The Candid RD Signs Off, But…..

I think this is the third time I’ve “officially quit the blog”.  I really enjoy blogging, but especially now that I have a baby on the way I’m realizing just how much time it takes up in my already busy life. As I let go of my blog,  I wanted to share how you can stay in touch with me by setting up an appointment for a dietary consultation and/or let me review your diet and make suggestions.  Here is what I offer;

  • One-on-One personal dietary consultations, in person: Meet with me for an hour and allow me to review your current diet, provide suggestions, and send you off with a list of goals and ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I specialize in weight loss, weight gain, weight maintenance, and low FODMAPs diets.
  • One-on-One personal dietary consultations, via phone: If you don’t live in Columbus I can still do a complete dietary consultation with you, just as described above.  We just chat on the phone instead of meeting in person.  Payments are made via PayPal.
  • Quick diet reviews: For $10 I will take a look at your current diet and send you three specific goals and suggestions, based on your current dietary needs and personal long-term or short-term goals.  Clients record three to four typical days of eating (including one weekend day) on My Fitness Pal or other similar program, and then I review and provide suggestions.  It’s a great way to jumpstart any new healthy lifestyle plan.
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Source: iStock Photos

Since starting this blog over five years ago, I’ve met a lot of wonderful foodies and dietitians.  I say “met”, although in truth I’ve actually only met four bloggers in person. But you know how it feels to read someone’s blog almost daily and truly feel like you know them.  Lauren Slayton is one of those bloggers. She is a dietitian who’s philosophies about nutrition and health remind me a lot of my own.  Yes, we’ve disagreed on things in the past (and neither of us seem to hold back our opinions in each other’s comment sections) but overall we’re on the same page.  Speaking of pages, she has a new book; The Little Book of Thin

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However you decide to go about achieving your weight loss and maintenance goals this year, and beyond, I want to reiterate the importance of not just reading a book or finding an online diet or weight loss program.  It’s really important to find real physical and emotional support. Whether it’s a friend who is going along on the journey with you, or a dietitian who will be there to support and guide you (I suggest both, but most importantly the latter).  If you want that dietitian to be me, please, get in touch!   And don’t forget, I’ll still be sharing my photos and recipes via Pinterest,  Facebook and Instagram , so I’ll see you there!

New Year, New Baby

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It’s official.  These two naked hotties are going to have a baby soon!!

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The cat is out of the bag.  I’m pregnant!  Our new addition will be here around August 20th, 2014. Remember the blog post I wrote a while ago, about fueling fertility?  I guess it worked (along with a little Clomid, yeah, that was probably what really did it).  For the longest time I thought I would be able to get pregnant in a heart beat, then after six months of not getting a period (after I stopped taking birth control) I started getting scared that my eating disorder, which I had my junior year of high school through college and even beyond, really screwed me up.  In truth, it probably did.  But the good news is that my healthy diet and lifestyle over the past 6-8 years, post disordered eating, really has been fueling my fertility.  While I needed a little help to get my ovulation normal (also the fault of the birth control I had been on since I was seventeen.  I had zits….what?!) it only took one ovulatory cycle and BAM, I got pregnant.  If you’re thinking that was fast, you’re correct.  My OBGYN told me the average women doesn’t get pregnant until cycle four of the Clomid.  I’d like to think our healthy diets and lifestyle played a roll in me getting pregnant so fast (quick and healthy sperm and eggs, I’m so proud). So maybe there truly is something to this eating healthy and being active for fertility.  Of course there is, and of course making sure your husband is on the same page is also important, because you know it’s not just what the women eats that matters, that’s just half the battle (that sperm has to be strong and powerful to make it to the egg!).  In addition to us both eating healthy and exercising regularly (for me it’s everyday for 45 minutes, for Nick it’s semi-regularly, for about 30 minutes 3 times a week. To be fair, his job is very active) we also did the following;

  • Ate Maca Powder (ok, I lied, I did not eat Maca Powder. I bought it in hopes of adding it to my smoothies, but I took one taste and almost threw up. No joke.  So what did I do with the thirty dollar bag of Maca? Put it, secretly, in Nick’s smoothies. Muahaha).  I bought Maca because the package said it was supposed to support female and male fertility.  It also said it provided “natural energy”.  I was completely fooled by a label.  When I actually got smart and looked it up on the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, I was informed that the only evidence that exists on the effectiveness of Maca is that it may enhance sexual desire in men (like they need that!).  haha. So sure, that could indirectly enhance fertility.  Good thing I didn’t like it because the research says nothing about enhancing fertility (or sexual desire) in women.  Lame, but hey, maybe it helped?
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Lear more about Maca Powder by clicking on the photo

  • Avoided BPA like the plague. If you look back at my fertility post you will see some information on BPA and how it used to be used for birth control. Scary.  We got rid of 95% of our plastic containers and switched to all glass.  We also make sure everythign we buy in plastic is BPA-free.  Of course we also reduced our consumption of canned goods (not that we really used many) and switched to either BPA-free cans or the cardboard boxes (such as with tomato products).
  • Drank alcohol only rarely.  Ok, this is another lie. We drank most nights, but only small amounts (For me one glass of wine, for Nick 2 beers at most, or a Vodka tonic.  The truth is my OBGYN suggested it.  Many women avoid alcohol when they are trying to get pregnant, but if you’re a regular drinker and you have control over your drinking, completely avoiding alcohol just makes the whole process more stressful.  As my OBGYN said, keep going on with life as normal. Have a drink, enjoy yourself, have sex, enjoy it. If you make a baby, that’s a bonus!  Best advice ever.
  • Ate veggies at every meal. Load up on antioxidants, via food, not supplements.  Healthy body = healthy eggs and sperm.  The only supplement I was taking on a regular basis was a B-complex to make sure I got plenty of folic acid (aim for 400 mcg when trying to conceive).  I was taking a prenatal for a while but I’m sort of thinking it was the reason my liver enzymes were high at one of my check-ups.  Prenatals are loaded with vitamin A and in my opinion should only be taken when you are pregnant.
  • Kept busy and didn’t focus too much on getting pregnant (very important!).  Like I said above, my OBGYN stressed the idea that the more we thought about getting pregnant, the harder it would be.  I would find myself looking up tips online and searching for online conversations about specific fertility topics, all the while just working myself up over something that should just happen naturally without stress involved.  I know it’s easier said than done, but it was very important to continue life as normal, keep busy, and keep my mind off of trying to get pregnant.

And in case you’re interested in whether I’ve been sticking to my healthy diet since I’ve been pregnant, I’ll be honest, it’s tough!  I’ve been nauseated all day for the past two weeks, and the only things that sound good to me include cheese, bread, eggs and soup (plus the occasional animal proteins such as pork and beef. Not chicken).  Check out my Instagram photos to see how different my diet has been.  I’m still incorporating fruits and veggies, but my ratio of protein to carbohydrate has definitely dropped.  And I never thought I would say this, but the three foods that I used to love more than anything; Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and dark chocolate, make me gag a little now.  This pregnancy thing is strange!  Oh, and my workouts…well..they are still happening, but with the all the fatigue and nausea they haven’t been quite the same.  I’ve been doing 20-30 minutes rather than 45-60 minutes.  I keep hearing and reading this fatigue and nausea will go away after the first trimester. I hope so, one more month to go!

So now, I’m pregnant, and this will be my second to last post.  No, I’m not quitting simply because I’m pregnant, it has more to do with the fact that my new job has me in front of a computer screen for most of the day, and when I get home or when the weekends come, the computer is the last place I want to be.  I also realize that I can continue sharing my favorite recipes and nutrition tips in ways that take up a little less time; via Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.   In addition to recipes I’ll also be posting updates on my pregnancy, such as tips on what to eat for each trimester and for different pregnancy symptoms, and ways to eat to develop a healthy baby who craves healthy foods.  And of course I’ll continue posting tips on my social media outlets after the baby is born, and hopefully be a great resource for all parents out there who are wondering how to feed their kids healthy foods that they actually enjoy (hint: it starts in the womb!).

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post which will be a last little recap of how you can stay healthy and keep the weight off this year!

Cod and Veggie Stew, Slow Cooker Style

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I buy fresh fish on occasion, but most often I’m a frozen fish kind of girl. I know, not as good.  But whenever I buy fish I typically don’t have a plan for it right away, so buying it frozen makes sense.  I buy my fish from either Trader Joe’s or Giant Eagle (I like Giant Eagle especially because they have a sound and respectable sustainable seafood policy).  The fish I buy most often is cod.  When I let the fish thaw it really has to be wrapped in a paper towel for some time to allow all the excess moisture to get soaked up, if not, it’s just gross.  One day I thought it would be a good idea to search for a slow cooker fish stew recipe, which would be the perfect vessel for frozen fish. I was right.

Cod and Veggie Stew, Slow Cooker Style
 
Author:
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 2 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion **
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced **
  • 1 10¾-ounce can (or box) cream of chicken or celery soup **
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen lima beans **
  • 1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth **
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning (such as Mrs. Dash) **
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen cod
  • 1 14-1/2 ounce can stewed tomatoes, undrained **
  • ½ cup skim milk **

Instructions
  1. In a slow cooker combine potatoes, onion, garlic, creamy of chicken or celery soup, corn lima beans, broth, wine, and lemon pepper seasoning.
  2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 31/2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; part dry with paper towels. Place fish on the mixture in the cooker. If using a low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Cover and cook for 1 more hour.
  4. Add undrained tomatoes and skim milk to cooker, stirring gently to break up the fish. Serve warm.

Notes
** If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, there are several modifications you can make to make this lower FODMAPs, but not free of them. First, omit the onion and garlic and add the flavor back with ~ 1 Tbsp. Tuscan or garlic olive oil. Next, look for a gluten free/wheat free condensed soup, and choose chicken rather than celery (even this will contain some off-limit seasonings, but you can’t avoid them, really). Look for a chicken broth that doesn’t contain garlic, onion, or celery (I like Valu Time Reduced Sodium, or I make my own, see recipe on my low FODMAPs page). The lemon pepper seasoning will have some off limits herbs/spices, so you can omit or just reduce the amount (replace with other spices like rosemary, thyme, basil, etc.). Purchase a stewed tomato that is not seasoned. If you are lactose intolerant use Lactaid.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th of recipe Calories: 335 Fat: 4.3 g Saturated fat: 1.1 g Carbohydrates: 44 g Sugar: 9.2 g Sodium: 432 mg Fiber: 7.6 g Protein: 26.7 g Cholesterol: 46 mg

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 350 calories, good source of iron (19% DV) and excellent source of vitamin C (52% DV), protein and fiber.

This stew was simple and tasted delicious with a hearty piece of whole grain bread, toasted, and dipped into the stew.  Nick and I were in heaven.

DSC_3630 The giant chunks of tomato and potato were just perfect (and in fact I might add more tomatoes the next time I make this). Nick, who “hates soup”, enjoyed every bite of this.

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I know what you’re thinking, “Lima beans?!”. But, they worked well in this soup, we enjoyed them.

DSC_3628 DSC_3630 What was the last delicious soup or stew you had??  Enjoy your day!

Santa’s North Pole Peppermint Smoothie

DSC_3613 Santa might pine for cookies when he enters your home to deliver gifts, but before his long journey he enjoys a nice peppermint smoothie for some protein, calcium, and fiber.  Didn’t you know? Yeah, this is what holds him over for his long journey on Christmas Eve.

Santa’s North Pole Peppermint Smoothie
 
Author:
Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 2 cups loosely packed frozen yogurt or vegan coconut ice cream
  • ¾ cup light coconut milk
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • Peppermint candies to garnish
  • More coconut milk to thin the smoothie, as desired

Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender, adding soy or almond milk if needed. Top with the peppermint garnish.

Notes
** This is a low FODMAPs recipe. If you are lactose intolerant you should be able to handle the frozen yogurt, as it only has about 8-10 grams of lactose. If you can’t handle that much, use a hemp or coconut yogurt.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 smoothie/shake Calories: 450 Fat: 21 g Saturated fat: 19 g Carbohydrates: 56 Sugar: 32 g Sodium: 97 mg Fiber: 5 g Protein: 7 g Cholesterol: 8 mg

Nutrition Highlights:  Good source of protein and iron, excellent source of fiber and vitamin C.

Although Santa needs the extra calories and fat so he can make it across the World in one night, you may prefer something a bit lighter . So, if you want this to be lower in calories and fat replace the higher fat light coconut milk with almond milk or soy milk.  It will still taste fantastic.

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And if you do’t have handmade peppermint snow (you don’t?!) just use crushed up candy canes. Easy!

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Have a very Merry Christmas!  I’ll be back on Thursday with a delicious slow cooker cod chowder.

My Top 10 Weight Loss and Management Foods/Products

With the new year approaching fast, I thought I would share with you my top ten favorite weight loss/management foods and products (notice, they are mainly foods, because as you know I’m not a fan of gimmicks and I truly believe weight loss happens best when you eat the right foods and stay active).  Without further ado, here they are, in no particular order;

1.  Greek Yogurt

Let’s see here; tons of protein, and a small amount of sugar, plus calcium? What’s not to love? I always recommend Greek yogurt over regular yogurt, to all of my clients.  Yes, the Greek varieties also contain live and active cultures, so have no fear.  And I do recommend the plain (gasp!) because it contains much less sugar than the flavored varieties.  Now, don’t eat it plain, please (gross), unless you are using it as a sour cream substitute (which works really well, by the way). Instead, jazz up your plain Greek yogurt with parfaits, or frozen blueberries, PB2, Stevia, whatever!

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2.  La Croix, or other sparkling beverage (calorie free, and free of artificial flavors/colors).

I think sparkling water is a trend that is here to stay.  I told you I asked for a Soda Stream for Christmas, right?  No sweet syrups needed, I just want the plain water with bubbles!  The bubbles actually make you feel full and the sting of carbonation is actually something that humans love (you don’t need the sugar, the carbonation should be stimulating enough!).

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3.  PB2

I’m addicted.  I’ll admit it. I go through this stuff like it’s not going to be manufactured anymore or something.  It’s sad, really.  You see, it only has 50 calories in 2 Tbsp, which is one-fourth the amount of actual peanut butter.  Now, I know what you’re thinking; it doesn’t taste like peanut butter.  True, it doesn’t.  But with PB2 I can add peanut butter flavor to things like smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt, without adding a ton of calories (I typically use it in it’s powder form, rather than adding water to it and making it a paste).

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4.  Chia Seeds

Ever since Dr. Oz talked about chia seeds on his show a few years ago, people just can’t seem to get enough. I think it’s one of the few things Dr. Oz got right (maybe because it’s actually a food, not a supplement?!).  Chia seeds are so versatile and can be used in many recipes (quick: type “chia seed recipes” into your browser or Pinterest and you will find out what I mean).  They form a gel when added to water, and also when ingested by you. Therefore they can help keep you full for a long time.  They also contain an excellent source of fiber, which helps with that satiety factor.  They are tasteless, so they are a great seed to just add to…whatever.

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5.  Beanitos

If you haven’t tried Beanitos yet, well, you’re missing out.  You see, there are so many “bean chips” on the shelves out there, that contain wheat or corn as the first ingredient, and then something like “bean powder” as the third or fourth ingredient.  In other words, they aren’t true bean chips.  Beanitos, on the other hand, have “whole beans” as the first ingredient, and therefore provide 4-6 grams of satiating protein and fiber per serving.  That’s amazing!  They basically taste like a crispy bean (although the tortilla chips really don’t taste like beans at all, they are such a secretly healthier treat!). Check out their website to learn more, and look for these chips in the chip aisle of your supermarket (I suggest trying them with nachos.  And don’t tell anyone they are made with beans. Muahaha)

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 6.  CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)

I rarely promote weight loss supplements (actually, I never do) but CLA is a fatty acid that, at least from research done so far, is safe.  It’s actually found naturally in foods such as grassfed beef.  Read below to see what studies have shown about it’s effectiveness.  This blurb is from the Natural Standards Database.  It’s very clear that more research is needed, but if I’m going to recommend something for weight loss, I would likely start with this (although Alli is another one I’ve recommended in the past).  I think many of the studies that have been done with CLA were not long-term.  I’m guessing more long-term studies would show a benefit, but who knows? Of course, talk to your doctor before considering any supplement (or drug, like Alli).

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 7.  Non-starchy Vegetables (especially zucchini and spaghetti squash)

Vegetables will always be considered a healthy food. Never will you read a research paper that claims “as it turns out, vegetables aren’t as good for us as we once thought!”.  Nope. I can guarantee you right now that will never happen.  It’s clear that vegetables play an important role not only in health, but also weight management.  Non-starchy vegetables are great because they have very few calories and carbohydrates, and can add a lot of volume to your plate (remember my post about volumetrics?).  Some examples of non-starchy vegetables include carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, spinach, kale, and one of my favorites; zucchini.  Check out my zucchini “noodle” recipe below (a great way to have “pasta” without all the carbs!).

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Click on the photo to get the recipe for zucchini “noodles” with oat-filled turkey meatballs.

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And of course you can always eat spaghetti squash for your “pasta”. Spaghetti squash is the only non-starchy winter squash.

 

8.  Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Similar to PB2, I can’t go a day without adding unsweetened cocoa powder to something.  You see, I’m a women with a major slight chocolate addiction.  It doesn’t help that I live with a man who also has this addiction (who knew men could love chocolate as much as women?!).  I add this to oatmeal, Greek yogurt, pancakes, whatever, just so I can get that chocolatey flavor without all the sugar and calories.  Of course I also eat the real stuff; my favorite is Lindt’s 70-90% dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate is a great choice because it’s lower in sugar than milk chocolate.  See, you can have your chocolate, and eat it too.

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9.  NuGo Slim Bars

The only bar I’ve ever known to have only 2-3 grams of sugar and zero artificial sweeteners (including zero bloat-inducing sugar alcohols!).  Have I mentioned that they also have an excellent source of fiber, protein and (in my opinion) they taste delicious?!  Having worked at a supermarket that sells these for a couple years, I’ll tell you the most popular flavor was the Raspberry Truffle. So, give them a try today!

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Read more about this product by clicking on the photo.

10.  Coffee

I could have said “caffeine”, but then I’d be promoting another drug/supplement for weight loss (the CLA and Alli were enough).  Instead I’ll say coffee, because as much as you read about the potential negative effects of caffeine, it’s very rare that you ever read about negative effects of coffee.  In fact, it’s more common to find research that supports coffee as a potent source of antioxidants, which it is.  It helps that coffee contains caffeine, which as I said can pose some health risks if you consume more than about 400 mg per day (the amount in about two tall Starbucks drinks) or if you consume your caffeine via supplements that are still not required to disclose caffeine amount (so annoying), but caffeine consumed in a safe amount (and via coffee or even teas like black and green) is healthy, in my opinion.  There is some research to support that caffeine can reduce your appetite, and speed up metabolism. I use caffeine (~65 mg) to help prepare me for my early morning workouts.  It truly helps!

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There you have it, my top ten list of weight loss and management products.  Now, what would you add to the list?

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Greek Spaghetti Squash Casserole

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Spaghetti is a starchy food. In other words, it contains a lot of carbohydrates per serving (about 42 grams, to be precise, and that’s in a serving according to the label, not a typical American serving, which is twice that amount).  Spaghetti squash on the other hand, is not starchy.  It’s one of the few winter squashes that is actually in the category of non-starchy vegetable, with only seven grams of carbohydrates in one cup.  Heck, eat two cups if you must, it’s only fifteen grams, still only one-third the amount found in one serving of spaghetti.  Not only does spaghetti squash have very few carbs, but it also has a lot of nutrients, per calorie, therefore making it a nutrient dense food (as most vegetables are, really).

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I try to take advantage of this time of year as much as possible, and purchase as many spaghetti squash as aI can.  I just can’t get enough!  We tried growing them in our garden this year, but failed miserably.  One day we will have spaghetti squash in our garden, you just wait.  Until then, I get it from the store and look for fun recipes to create, such as this casserole. It was so simple and delicious, I’ve made it several times since first discovering it.

Greek Spaghetti Squash Casserole
 
Author:
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped **
  • 1 clove garlic **
  • 1½ cups chopped tomatoes
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced green or black olives
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped basil

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheet.
  2. Place spaghetti squash with cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance (NOTE: You could also put both halves in a microwave for ~12 minutes, instead of using the oven). Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are warmed through.
  4. Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.

Notes
** If you are following a low FODMAPs diet omit the garlic and onion. Replace the flavor by using a Tuscan or garlic-infused olive oil, instead of plain, and add chopped chives instead of the onion.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th of casserole Calories: 130 Fat: 9.5 g Saturated fat: 3.6 g Carbohydrates: 9.1 g Sugar: 2.5 g Sodium: 271 mg Fiber: 1 g Protein: 3.7 g Cholesterol: 17 mg

Nutrition Highlights: Under 150 calories, good source of vitamin A (10% Daily Value), calcium (12% Daily Value), and vitamin C (15% Daily Value)

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If you’re thinking it’s not much like a casserole, you’re right.  It wasn’t even made in a casserole dish. But, the recipe was called a casserole, so … it’s a casserole.  It was actually much easier than a casserole, so that’s a plus.  Nick and I chowed down on this for a couple nights.  It tasted great jazzed up with some grilled chicken too (or topped with a dollop of Plain Greek yogurt. Yeah, I said it).  But no, these two extras weren’t necessary. This dish was divine.

DSC_3515 Stay tuned for Friday’s post, which will be a highlight of my Top Ten Weight Loss/Management Products and Foods.  Spaghetti squash might just be on that list.

Enjoy your day!

 

Pepperoni Bread for the Holidays

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Every year during the holidays I get requests for pepperoni bread. You see, I started making this bread about five years ago with my mom.  We would make about three loaves for Christmas and Christmas Eve.  It was so popular that we started getting requests from friends and family for us to make them their own personal loaves (mainly Nick, my dad, brother, and some cousins….note, mostly men.  But of course women love this too!).   Now we make anywhere from ten to twelve loaves during this time of the year.  I would quite honestly make more, if I had time, and arm strength (it’s a workout rolling out this dough, I tell you) but for now ten to twelve loaves do the trick.  It’s just a great food to have on hand to bring to holiday parties, give as gifts, or even set out on the table when random guests drop by.  Everyone likes a good pepperoni bread. Everyone!

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Pepperoni Bread for the Holidays
 
Serves: 10-12

Ingredients
  • 1 loaf of frozen bread dough (I buy the 4 packs from Kroger)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1-1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ~30 turkey pepperoni

Instructions
  1. Thaw the dough according to the directions on the package (make sure it doesn’t start to puff up. If this happens you have let it thaw for too long).
  2. Preheat your oven according to package baking directions.
  3. Spread out the thawed dough on a greased baking sheet and make it into a long rectangle. Get the dough as flat and large as possible (so it can roll easily).
  4. Top the dough evenly with olive oil, seasoning, cheese and pepperoni.
  5. Fold one side of the bread into the center of the rectangle, and then fold the other side on top of that. Use your fingers to pinch the dough so the seem is tightly closed (also make sure the ends of the bread are closed too). Flip the bread onto the seam before baking.
  6. Bake according to directions on the package (likely 25-30 minutes) until the tops are slightly browned. Take out of the oven and allow to cool. Cut into about 10-12 pieces, and enjoy with warm marinara sauce.

Notes
This is not a low FODMAPs recipe.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: ~100 Fat: 5 g Saturated fat: 2 g Carbohydrates: 4.6 g Sodium: 236 mg Protein: 5.1 g

 

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This is the dough when it’s flat and in a “rectangular” shape.  You see the rectangle?  Yeah, sort of. I mean, it’s dough.

After topping the dough similar to making a pizza, you fold one side into the center, and the flip the next side on top of that.  Some of the ingredients might start to poor out, but that’s ok, just stuff them back in.
I make 4-5 at a time.  The kitchen smells wonderful when these are baking.  Sometimes the cheese oozes out, and that’ok (I just eat it, because I can’t present someone with a pepperoni bread with cheese oozing out, I mean, that just wouldn’t be right….).
See how nice and golden brown these are?  Perfection.
I assure you these will be the hit of any holiday gathering.  You may even need to make two for any party you’re attending, because they go fast!  Happy holidays everyone.

Pumpkin Oat Chia… Smoothie?

DSC_3517 I like to think that people test their recipes before publishing them, but sometimes I wonder if that’s true.  I was searching for a pumpkin smoothie the other day and came across one that sounded unique; with oats, pumpkin, and chia seeds.  Three ingredients I love, of course.  I made the smoothie and while it was absolutely divine, it certainly wasn’t what I would consider a smoothie.  Hence the title of this blog post.  The recipe was called a smoothie, but I’m calling it a pudding, because that’s definitely what it was.  I ate this with a spoon.  You could try to drink it, but good luck (I much prefer eating my food anyway, don’t you? Rather than drinking it.  Just sayin’)…

Pumpkin Oat Chia Smoothie/Pudding
 
Author:
Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 1 cup cooked steel cut oats, cooled (this is about ½ cup dry)
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 7.5 ounces (or ½ of a standard sized can) pure canned pumpkin **
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 7 drops Stevia (or any other favorite non-nutrative sweetener)
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin spice

Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender or Magic Bullet.
  2. Serve cold, and enjoy with a spoon (or make into more of a smoothie by adding more almond milk and possibly some ice!)

Notes
** Pumpkin contains FODMAPs (specifically, polyols). If you would like to omit the pumpkin and use mashed banana or even sweet potato (~1 cup, mashed, of either) you could do that. I follow a low FODMAPs diet and could handle the small amount of pumpkin in this smoothie, so you may be able to as well (you could always just add less, if you’d like).

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 smoothie (half the recipe) Calories: 309 Fat: 9 g Saturated fat: 1.2 g Carbohydrates: 43.8 m Sugar: 5.7 g Sodium: 118 mg Fiber: 13 g Protein: 14.7 g

Nutrition Highlights: Excellent source of vitamin A (336% DV), calcium (47%), and iron (32%)

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If you’re looking for a breakfast or snack to hold you over for hours, literally, hours, this is it.  The chia and the oats swell up in your stomach and helps keep you feeling full, in a non-bloating way.  I still have no gotten sick of pumpkin. Have you?  I’m waiting for the time in January when all the canned (BPA-free lining, of course) pumpkin goes on sale.  I’ll be making pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin oats, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin stuffed shells, pumpkin parfaits, you name it, I’ll continue making it even as winter comes to an end and Spring start to approach. My goal is to turn into a pumpkin.

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Well I hope you had a great weekend.  I made ten loaves of my “famous” pepperoni bread over the weekend (it’s so good, I get more and more people requesting a loaf each year!).  I will post the recipe tomorrow.  If you’re looking for a gift to give out to friends, or something to bring to a holiday party, this bread will do the trick!

If you’re like us, here in Ohio, you were trying to stay warm and cozy this weekend.  It’s been the colder than normal around here, with more snow fall than we’ve had in December since about 1980, so they say.  It’s insane.  I think it’s supposed to warm up a bit this week, but I’m not holding my breath.  Either way, I hope everyone enjoys their week.  Hopefully a nice long break is right around the corner for you!  ”See you” tomorrow!.

This Holiday Season, Change Your Food Environment and Start Breaking Some Habits

Have you ever noticed that food is everywhere? Literally.  Every place you go there is food (they even make car seats with food trays now…really?! Is it necessary?).  Gas stations, Lowe’s, bookstores, without fail, you can find food. It’s as if we’re going to starve if we don’t have food in our faces at all times of the day (kids even have bags of dried fruit in their hands at the church I go to, because you know, they can’t go 30 minutes without eating).  I know we are already in the midst of the 2013 holiday season, but we’ve got a long way to go until it ends.  And if you’re like me and have a lot of family and friends with January birthdays, they really don’t end until February 14th, Valentine’s Day.  If you thought food was in your faces throughout the year, to the point of completel annoyance, it’s worse during the holidays.  During this time of the year we don’t just have food in our faces everywhere we go, but it’s almost always sweet, higher calorie food (you know, “Traditional” holiday grazing food).

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You may not be surprised to find whole pies in the office break room. It’s the holidays…why not?!

So what’s the deal with holiday weight gain? Is it true the average person gains 5 pounds?  Nope… according to the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans gain more like 1 pound during the winter and the holidays. Not bad, right?  It makes you wonder how the heck we can eat so much and only gain 1 pound, when it seems like gaining weight is so easy these days.  But of course if you gain a pound a year, that can add up fast (and, also keep in mind that’s the average, some people do gain more than 1 pound).  So how do you prevent this dreaded one pound from being added to your “next year’s to do list”?  Start changing your food environment, and breaking (or starting) some new habits.

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Click on the photo to be directed to this recipe for Sugar-Free Candied Nuts

I want to talk about the best seminar I went to while at FNCE (The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo). The speaker was Dr. Jim Painter, an energetic man with an obvious passion to educate and help Americans change their habits and lifetsyle.  Jim is a professor at Eastern Illinois University and I couldn’t help but think throughout his entire presentation that I wish I could have been in his class (I still consider asking if he tapes any of his lectures….) and how lucky his students were/are to be involved in some of the fascinating studies he highlighted in his presentation. Truly, fascinating.  Here are some highlights of his presentation;

1)  We all know that portion sizes have gone up, that much is clear, but did you know that the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe, written in 1949 to yield 100 cookies, now yields only 60?  Incredible.  No wonder we just can’t stop at one cookie when they are naturally “smaller” like Oreos, for example.  To us that’s just not a normal size.

2)  We eat more, much more, from bigger containers.  A study done by another brilliant man in the world of , Brian Wansink, who is the mastermind behind the book Mindless Eating (take the Mindless Eating quiz here!), did a study that showed people ate 45-50% more from an extra large popcorn container (why? Because Americans determine satiety not by when they are pleasantly full, but instead by when their plate or bowl is empty. Not good).

3)  Keeping candy on a co-workers desk, within reach, caused participants in a study to consume 3 times as many candies as they did when the candy was a mere 2 meters away. Remember, when that candy is within reach you are much more likely to mindlessly grab some throughout the day.

4)  Great thing to consider; Habits allow the brain an easy way out because they stop it from engaging in the hundreds of decisions we make daily.  Thus, it’s difficult to break a habit because it takes work.  Now consider; more than 40% of actions people perform everyday are considered habits rather than decisions (Neal, D., et.al).  When a behavior becomes automatic it is more likely to be repeated.  This can be good, as in the case of always grabbing the whole grain version of your favorite bread, or bad, as in the case of always grabbing the salt shaker before you even taste your food.

5)  While willpower is important, it can buckle under pressure.  We have a “willpower reserve” and if we use it too much it might get depleted.  Those who are continuously depriving themselves of foods/drinks or anything else that they really want, will eventually cave and binge, especially when fatigued, stressed, or put in a challenging situation.  This, my friends, it why most diets just don’t work.

If you’d like to read more check out this article from Food Navigator; Why Did Americans Get So Fat, So Fast?

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Sad, but at the rate our portions are expanding, this plate might one day look normal and acceptable!

So, what can you do?  I highly suggest starting small and trying the following;

1)  Use smaller plates, glasses, mugs, bowls, everything.  I use salad plates for dinner.  Think I’m crazy?  It works.  My husband is now used to a smaller plate too.  And when we eat dessert you better believe I serve the ice cream (our typical dessert) in our smallest bowl, rather than our oversized ice cream bowls (I’ll use those on special occasions, not every day).

2)  Keep healthy food within reach, not junk.  One of my favorite foods to keep on the counter is clementines.  They are like nature’s candy, after all.  Notice: I’m not saying eat fruit instead of an actual dessert.  I hate that advice.  Please, eat your dessert for dessert, but don’t eat dessert-like foods throughout the day, mindlessly. That’s what gets you in trouble.

3)  Stop for a moment in between bites and actually savor your food. Slow down, allow your brain to register that you are eating, and allow it to catch up with you as you continue eating.  This will help you eat to the point that you should; the point of satisfaction, not overly stuffed and uncomfortable.

4)  Most important, start being more conscious of your habits.  If you believe they are not helpful habits, work hard to change them.  Be fully aware that this will not happen over night, it takes time. Start with one habit at a time, and then move on to another.  One habit that I have worked on breaking is my tendency to come home from work and just start snacking.  I noticed it was an automatic behavior; walk in the door, put my things down, open the fridge and eat something (despite not really being hungry).  Now I am aware of this behavior and have found ways to change it; get home, put things away, and change my routine by first getting out of the kitchen and walking into the bedroom to get in more comfortable clothes.

5)  Remember all of these tips, especially when you’re out at holiday parties or other events throughout the year.  The rules still apply; use smaller plates, slow down and savor your foods and beverages, be mindful of what you are consuming (and be sure to enjoy it, not to think about it as “Bad”), place yourself away from the food table so you don’t mindlessly graze.

6)  Use your willpower as much as possible, but remember to allow yourself the occasional treat (or daily treat, for that matter) so as not set yourself up for failure (you don’t want to drain your willpower reserve!).  The holidays are a perfect time to indulge, but the key is not to indulge at every chance you get.  Sure, indulge on the holiday (Christmas, or other) and allow yourself a treat at the holiday work party and a couple others throughout the season.  What you don’t want to do is make the holiday season into one large indulge-fest, each and every day. This is where people get into trouble.

7)  Read the book “Taste What You’re Missing” (you can order it on my Amazon widget to the right).  And I really mean that. It’s fantastic and I can assure you it will help you, at least in part, eat less mindlessly.  Here are two quotes from the book;

 ”If you can’t recall the sensory input you experienced at your last three meals, you’re probably eating mindlessly”

“Food is everywhere. It is presented to us on golden platters at work, school, cultural events, social events, birthday parties, and more.  It is hard to go anywhere in the developed world without encountering delicious food.  What you should do is an integral gut check to determine if your wanting for food is physical or situational, and in lieu of those cupcakes, remember your last meal, how it smelled, looked, sounded, felt, and tasted.  And take a pass (unless, of course, you are truly physically hungry).”

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You will be faced with decisions like this on a daily basis. It’s ok to choose the cake every once in a while, but train your brian to make the apple (or healthier choice) a habitual choice! Have a bite of the cake, after you eat the apple, if you want.

Want more?  Read this article from Fooducate; 7 Tips for Making Portion Control Your Secret Weapon.  And stay tuned for next Friday’s post with my top 10 Weight Loss/Management foods and products.  Then, the following Friday I will post an update about “Added Sugars” (the secret to weight loss).

Orange-Date Pumpkin Muffins (Gluten Free)

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Many of you know I used to be a supermarket dietitian.  It was such an amazing experience, but I was ready to move on after three years, as I was offered the opportunity to start making a change in the lives of college students, my absolute favorite age group with whom to work.  I still sometimes miss being in the aisles, helping customers read and understand food labels, and also handing out delicious samples of new unique foods.  But it’s also fun now to be the customer and go into my old store to visit the dietitian.  Sure, it’s bitter sweet (that was once me, is she doing a better job?! Do my favorite customers and team members have the same special bond with her now??) but I knew I had to move on eventually.  One of my favorite things to do when I go in there is browse the new recipes.  We were always sent new recipes, each month, from the corporate office to handout to customers and to display on our table.  I always looked forward to the day we received the recipes in the mail because they were almost always fantastic.  About a month ago I grabbed this recipe for Orange-Date Pumpkin Muffins.  I was skeptical at first (orange, date, and pumpkin?!) but trust me when I say they were simply delicious (especially when pipping hot out of the oven!).

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True story, I made these muffins once with prunes.  You see, that’s all I had in the house and I didn’t want to go out and get dates. They were just as good with the prunes (or should I say, “dried plums”).  So, dates, prunes, whatever you have, they will work in this recipe.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Orange-Date Pumpkin Muffins (Gluten Free)
 
Author:
Serves: 12

Ingredients
  • 2 cups oat bran flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 large seedless orange, scrubbed and cut into 8 sections (peel left on)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • ⅔ cup canned, unseasoned pumpkin puree (look for one without BPA) **
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1.5 Tbsp. nonfat yogurt
  • ⅔ cup chopped pitted dates **
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts (or almonds)

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat 12 standard 21/2-inch muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Puree orange sections in a food processor. To the food processor add egg, egg white, pumpkin, sugar, maple syrup and yogurt; process until smooth. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and dates, and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan and top with the walnuts.
  4. Bake the muffins until the tops spring back when touched lightly; 15-18 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges and turn the muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

Notes
** Pumpkin and dates contain FODMAPs. The amount of pumpkin in this recipe is pretty small, so for most people it won’t cause any problems, but if you’d like to replace the pumpkin with a lower FODMAPs starchy vegetable, butternut squash (cooked well and pureed) would be a good choice. The dates can’t be replaced with anything low FODMAPs, as all dried fruits contains some type of FODMAP. Most people will be able to handle up to 2 dates at a time (likely less than you would get in one muffin).

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 muffin Calories: 175 Fat: 3 g Saturated fat: 1 g Carbohydrates: 36.8 g Sugar: 18 g Sodium: 219 mg Fiber: 3.8 g Protein: 4 g Cholesterol: 16 g

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 200 calories, good source of fiber and vitamin C (15% DV vitamin C), excellent source of vitamin A (44% DV).

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I would normally use walnuts, but I only had almonds on this particular day. Any nut would work as a topping (hmm..maybe not pistachios…).

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I often get asked what kind of butter or margarine I use.  I have a strong preference for Smart Balance products.  I just really love the way they taste, and I like that they are functional foods; ie: they add omega-3, or flax, or olive oil, or….you get it.  Now, I wouldn’t say it’s ever enough to really make a difference (because, it’s not), but I still like the idea that Nick and I are getting little extra omega-3 when we use their products.  I also like their light margarines, and their margarine/butter blend baking sticks.  And keep in mind all of their products are free of hydrogenated oils.

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I think you will love these muffins as much as we did.  Honestly, the margarine we smeared on top of these weren’t even necessary, they were so moist and flavorful already.

Stay tuned for Friday’s post, which will be all about how you can start changing your environment for weight loss and management success.  Enjoy your Thursday!