healthy

Chickpea Bolognese

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Ok, so this may not be a typical meal that you would create on a weeknight...

BUT IT SHOULD BE!!!

It is quick, filling, tasty, high fiber, rich in vegetables, EASY, and affordable!

This is a fun twist on an Italian classic that is normally high in cholesterol and saturated fat!!! This will have your entire family reconsidering a MEATLESS MONDAY!!!!

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ChickpeaBol
ChickpeaBol

Honey Dijon Pretzel Crusted Chicken

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Honey Dijon Pretzel Crusted Chicken

Recipe Inspired By: Halfbaked Harvest

Ingredients:

Honey Dijon Mustard Pretzel Crusted Chicken

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (butterflied) or chicken cutlets
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 1/4 cups crushed pretzel crisp
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed

Honey Dijon Mustard Dressing

  • ½ cup Dijon Mustard
  • ½ cup Honey
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 2 teaspoon Pepper

Strawberry Avocado Basil Salsa

  • 2 cups fresh Strawberries, diced
  • 1 Avocado, pitted + diced
  • 1 small Jalapeno, seeded+ chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime

Preparations:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your baking sheet by lining with foil and spraying with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine the honey, mustard, egg whites and seasoned salt, whisk well. Toss the chicken in the honey mustard wash and set aside. The longer you can allow it to marinate the better. In a shallow bowl, combine the crushed pretzels and walnuts.
  • Remove one piece of chicken at a time from the mustard wash. Place chicken in the pretzels crumbs and then use your fingers to press the pretzels mixture onto the chicken.  Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken.  Bake in the oven for about 20-28 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  • While the chicken cooks combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Whisk well and adjust seasoning to taste.
  • For salsa, combine the strawberries, avocado, jalapeno, basil and lime juice in a bowl. Gently toss and season with salt if desired. Store in the fridge.
  • Serve chicken warm with a drizzle of honey Dijon mustard dressing and garnished with strawberry salsa!

JALAPEÑO & BLACK BEAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH BOATS

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JALAPEÑO & BLACK BEAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH BOATS

(Makes 4 Meals)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Spaghetti Squash
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 Yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 5 cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chiles
  • 2 cans Black Beans 
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sea Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 ounces Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • Sliced Jalapeño (optional, garnish) 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F and line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds in the center and discard. Brush sides with EVOO + Sea Salt + Pepper. Place the squash halves face-down on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the light brown spots begin to appear on the skin of the squash. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While the squash is cooking, pour the 2 cans of roasted tomatoes and green chiles (including the liquid) into a blender and add in the ground cumin and salt. Blend until smooth and set aside.

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onion until the onion is tender. Add in the garlic and spinach, and stir until the spinach is wilted. Add black beans and stir.

Use a fork to scrape the cooked spaghetti squash flesh into pot and pour the enchilada sauce over the top. Stir well until everything is heated through, season to taste, and then divide the spaghetti squash mixture between the shells of the spaghetti squash arranged cut-side-up on a baking sheet.

Top each serving with crumbled goat cheese, and place in over to heat through for 5-6 minutes. Serve Warm!!

Recipe Inspired by Detoxinista

6 Tips for Grocery Shopping with PCOS

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Shopper

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) causes elevated insulin levels in the blood, resulting in difficulty maintaining a healthy weight due to the tendency of the body to store fat.  Did you know that if you lose 5-10% of your current body weight, you can help significantly reduce symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?  Don't start crash dieting to improve symptoms, but start shopping smarter!

Grocery shopping, in general, can be a big pain but if you are grocery shopping with PCOS, things can get a bit trickier. I am here with some tips to make things simpler.

  1. Fuel Up Before Shopping! This is a rule for everyone to live by: don’t shop when you are hungry. Those donut holes look a bit more tempting when you haven’t eaten lunch yet (public bulletin: there is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a donut hole).
  2. Fortify Your Cart with Calcium & Vitamin D!  Calcium is an important mineral for women with PCOS since it is known to promote egg development and menstrual cycles. Almost more important than calcium, Vitamin D is key for calcium absorption, egg maturation, and insulin resistance. Some foods high in calcium and/or Vitamin D include: milk, eggs, salmon, tuna, cheese, and fortified cereals.
  3. Find The Farmer's Market.  Produce & meats pack the most nutrition when purchased local because the food items do not lose nutrition in the transportation of the food items to the grocery stores and on the grocery store shelves.  Check out your local farmer's market and research local farms near your home that sale grass-fed, hormone free meats!  Since its winter, what are the best items to look for to help fight PCOS? Kale and Turnip Greens!!!  Kale is great for any diet, but can be extremely beneficial for women with PCOS. Turnip Greens are low in oxalic acid so there won’t be any calcium absorption inhibition. Other vegetables high in calcium: broccoli, collard greens, arugula, and okra. One key tip: take advantage of all these beneficial greens and make some beautiful salads.
  4. Fight Oxidative Stress!! Eat a Variety of Colored Vegetables To Fight Oxidative Stress. Brightly colored vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants which fights oxidative stress. Women with PCOS have been found to have a higher rate of oxidative stress which leads to physiological stress.
  5. Fire Up The Grill!! Purchase Organic, Grass-Fed Meats. Grass-fed meat tends to be leaner and contain less hormones than standard meat. The livestock is also protected from genetically modified grains and pesticides which can negatively affect hormone balance and PCOS.  Lean protein sources also help maintain steady energy levels and curb cravings.  Some protein foods, like wild-caught fish, can get a bit pricey but some cheaper options include: beans, turkey, pastured eggs, organic yogurt, and  nuts/seeds. When deciding on which proteins to choose- it is better to choose protein with little to no saturated fats (items listed above, with exception of egg yolks, are great options)
  6. Figure Out Plan Ahead of Time!  There are many websites that compile a shopping list that you can print out and bring to the store and check off items you need to purchase. This makes things much simpler and prevents impulse purchases. I made one myself and I am attaching it here: Grocery List. My grocery list is based on what I usually purchase, there are modifications and write-ins that can be made to your liking! Try to make a weekly meal plan and only purchase what it planned for that week. With the shopping list printable comes a budgeting section. Prepare ahead and decide what you want to spend and try not to exceed that limit. If you find some huge deals and have leftover money, save it for a rainy day and after the end of the month see how much you saved!

Therese Bridges

5 Tips for Cuisine in College Campus Cafeterias

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Eating in the Cafeteria

Eating Utensils

I cannot stress enough how badly you need to take advantage of cafeterias on campus freshman year. There were a few on the Alabama campus and many of them would have fun deals certain nights of the week. My new freshman friends and I would get together on those nights and spend hours there thoroughly enjoying ourselves and getting to know each other. Our favorite was breakfast for dinner. The tricky part is when you have a student account, you do not know how much you are spending and can end up spending all your “dining dollars” within a month (may or may not be speaking from experience here).

  1. Take advantage of the fresh greens. Get a salad and fill your plate up with greens and a variety of nutrient dense salad toppings. Most school cafeterias have great salad bars similar to Ruby Tuesday's endless, create your own salad bar (aka the best type of food bar). Try to add some fresh vegetables like bell peppers or broccoli to your salad to achieve a high fiber dish. If you want to make a salad your whole meal, get some chicken from the home-cooking station, to add some filling protein on top. Get creative and add some colorful fruit like blueberries and strawberries for some potassium and vitamin C. And remember, you need carbohydrates to help fuel your active lifestyle so consider adding high fiber carbohydrates such as black beans, corn, or roasted sweet potatoes!
  2. Since most of you are living in dorms, walk to the cafeteria (not alone if late at night).  Most of my exercise freshman year was from walking around campus, to and from class. In this case the walk will be more enjoyable because it ends in a delicious meal rather than a boring class.
  3. If you have a sweet tooth, use cafeteria nights as a time to treat yourself! Unless times have changed, it does not cost extra to get a soft serve cone with your meal-- save your fro-yo money for a fun time out!
  4. Make it a game. Try out all the college cafeterias and find which ones best fit your palate. Many provide: Asian, pasta, pizza, home-cooking, and special breakfast nights! For the Asian station, fill your plate up with stir fry vegetables over a bed of rice and a side of chicken. This will provide the most bang for your buck with fiber rich grains, high protein in your chicken, and immune boosting vitamins and minerals in your stir fry veggies. If you are craving pizza, make it fun and add some other vegetable toppings to get creative with adding extra nutrients. And for those special breakfast nights, you have many options for whole grains and protein but as a delicious example: whole grain buttered toast and sausage links with a side of scrambled eggs and bowl of fresh fruit topped with a dollop of calcium rich yogurt! (or for my personal favorite breakfast treat, waffles topped with whipped cream... YUM).
  5. Don't waste your money elsewhere, if you already have money on a food account through the school, don't let it go to waste and eat sushi or delivery every night. I have used this word a few times but take advantage of this-- this money on a food account will not be coming back again!

Therese Bridges

Sweater Weather

Headshot Hello readers, my name is Therese Bridges and I will be Suzanne's intern for the next few weeks. I am currently in the middle of my dietetic internship and I will be aiding with her blog and social media. A little about myself: I am from Mobile, AL, recently graduated from the University of Alabama, and my day revolves around planning my meals. I am looking forward to my time with Suzanne and I hope you enjoy my posts!

Now onto the point.

Fall has always been my favorite season. Ever since I was a kid diving into a large pile of leaves in my front yard, I appreciated the weather and beauty of autumn. As I have grown older, my admiration has evolved to include football and food (I still enjoy a good pile of leaves, though).

Hot chocolate and fire pits are on the top of my sweater weather list. However, any one of my friends will tell you, I crave soup once the temperature drops to 70 degrees (I know this is dramatic and in fact, not cold). My favorite soup in the fall is butternut squash. Let me create an image: Sitting in front of the fire, curled up in a comfy sweater, eating butternut squash soup, and laughing with your friends.

To make this image possible, I am sharing a delectable recipe that you are sure to enjoy. My mother has made this soup for the family before and it is even delicious served cold. **I made this for my sick roommate and, not taking any "credit", she feels significantly better today.**

This soup could serve a large dinner party of 8 or last one person for a week of meals. I made it a bit spicier than advised by my mother but I find that it adds an extra kick.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Based on recipe in Williams-Sonoma Everyday Roasting Cookbook, with some personal tweaks

Pumpkin seeds inspired by Panera Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serves 8 to 10 people

Ingredients:

  • 1-  4 lb butternut squash, peeled & cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 or 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, line baking sheet with aluminum then brush with olive oil and arrange de-seeded butternut squash on pan. Roast squash for 13 to 15 minutes or until brown around the edges.

2. Once squash is done, set aside squash. Chop and arrange the onions on the same oiled up pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on onions and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over onions. Roast for 12 to 13 minutes then set aside.

3. In a stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add squash and onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook vegetables, stirring for 2 minutes then add chicken broth (enough to cover vegetables). Bring to a boil then place lid ajar and turn to low heat/simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Let soup cool, then working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor.

5. Return puree to stockpot, taste and adjust seasonings then reheat soup. Serve soup and garnish with nutmeg and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (available already made at most stores) on top of each bowl.

6. Enjoy! (preferably enjoying your favorite movie, sitting around a warm fire)

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10 Ways to Portion-Proof Your Environment

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    1. Plate Portions in Kitchen - You will be less likely to serve yourself additional portions if the food is in another room rather than at the table right in front of you.
    2. Portion From The Package - Don’t eat directly out of a package or container. Always portion it out first.
    3. Downsize The Dishes: Use smaller plates and bowls for your meals/snacks to help control your portion size.
    4. Dining Out for Two: Split an entrée with your dining partner or consider ordering an appetizer for your entrée.
    5. Downsize with a “Doggie Bag” - Portions at restaurants are often very large. Ask the waiter to put half of what you ordered into a ‘doggie bag’ before the food is brought to the table. You’ll be less tempted and you’ll get two meals for the price of one!
    6. Schedule Time for You - Schedule meals and snacks into your calendar so you don’t get so busy that you go hours without eating, which may put you at risk for overeating when you finally find time to eat.
    7. Avoid Desktop Dining - Store midday snacks in your workplace kitchen rather than directly in your office. This will reduce the likelihood of "desktop dining" when you aren’t really hungry.
    8. Snacks Stop Slumps - Always bring an afternoon snack with you to work to help refuel when that 4:00 p.m. slump hits. That way, you won’t be tempted by unhealthy options.
    9. Do Not Shop On An Empty Stomach- Food shopping while hungry is risky because we can make illogical, short-term choices trying to satisfy our urges. Shopping while full lets you use your head to make the right decisions.
    10. Individually Wrapped Foods- Single serving packs, rather than a big box, can give you a better “eye” for your portion size. If products do not come individually packaged, then make your own using plastic baggies. Mentally, it is harder to open up and finish several mini bags than to casually grab handful after handful from a big bag.

salat herz

3 Reasons to Start Eating Chickpeas!

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I love foods that are versatile!!!  This is probably the main reason I love chickpeas!! Chickpeas can be used in salads, soups, curries, chilis or stews.  I highly recommend that you consider roasting chickpeas as a tasty and inexpensive protein source!

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 In addition to their versatility, chickpeas also offer 3 health benefits you do not want to miss.

  1. Reduce Cholesterol Levels: Research has shown that including 3/4 cup of chickpeas in your diet can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) which in turn, lowers your risk of heart disease!  Research has also shown that individuals that consume chickpeas on a regular basis have better body fat regulation, lower LDL cholesterol levels, lower total cholesterol levels, and lower triglyceride levels.
  2. Control Hunger Cues: Due to their high fiber and high protein content, this powerful combination will stabilize your hunger cues.  My consuming 1/2 cup chickpeas in your daily intake you are more likely to eat an appropriate amount of calories for your body due to more accurate hunger/fullness cues.  The long-term benefit means your body will rest at a healthy body weight.
  3. Improved Digestive Support: Did you know that 2 cups of chickpeas will give you approximately 28 grams of fiber? That is 100% of the recommended daily value!  Consider chickpeas a staple on your grocery list if you want good colon health. 65-70% of the fiber found in chickpeas is insoluble fiber.  This means the fiber is not digested until it reaches the very end of your colon which promotes healthy bacteria growth and reduces your risk of colon cancer!

Today, I'm sharing the easy concept of roasting chickpeas so you can always have a tasty, nutrient dense, meatless protein option available for your main entrée or for a snack!

Roasted Chickpeas:

Ingredients:

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  • 2 - 15oz Cans of Low Sodium Chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Assorted Herbs and Spices of Your Choice (I like to use Dried Thyme, Oregano, Ground Cayenne Pepper, and Crushed Rosemary)
  • Garlic Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Cooking Spray

Directions:

Pre-Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.  Drain and rinse chickpeas.  Pat dry.  Once dry, toss chickpeas with EVOO, assorted spices and herbs of your choosing, garlic salt, and ground black pepper.  Toss chickpeas to make sure they are evenly coated with EVOO and herbs/spices.  Pour chickpeas onto baking sheet and spread out so that all chickpeas are in a single layer.  Roast at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  Stir chickpeas halfway through cooking process to cook evenly on all sides. Serve hot or cold.  This recipes makes 4-5 servings.

I like to serve roasted chickpeas on salads or over rice as a curry!  Roasted chickpeas are great to make hummus and delicious as a portable snack!!!  Be creative and enjoy this nutrient dense food!!!

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15 Commandments of Healthy Eating

Happy Monday NutriFocus Family!!! With Independence Day around the corner I am reminded of the importance of living in the FREEDOM that has been won for us at a high cost!!! Although we live in the land of the free, it is easy to find ourselves slaves to our daily routine!!!

ITS TIME TO TAKE BACK OUR FREEDOM!!!!

I'm challenging all NutriFocus Family to LIVE IN FREEDOM WITH FOOD!!! Post these 15 Commandments of Healthy Eating in a place that will readily remind you that you are free indeed and you have the CHOICE to treat your body well!!!

DITCH DIETING AND START LIVING!!!!

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Image From Blog on The Psychology Easel - http://taradeliberto.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-fifteen-commandments-of-healthy-intuitive-eating-stop-dieting-eating-disorders.html

Food & Friends - Food's Social Aspect (Part 1)

In America, food can be the central focus in the majority of social scenes.  For those who suffer from disordered eating or eating disorders, this can be paralyzing and increase the desire to isolate.  I am a dietitian who is passionate about removing rigid “food rules” and striving to help individuals learn how to enjoy food without limitations, but in moderation. With the holidays approaching, social eating will be on the rise.  With that being said, I wanted to share a few of my experiences dining out with my friends in a new miniseries I am calling “Food & Friends – Food’s Social Aspect.” This miniseries will be a chance for me to share a few personal experiences involving different foods I’ve recently tried, either directly and indirectly, related to a social setting in hopes to encourage you to stop allowing a diet mentality to dictate the type of relationships in your life!!  Perhaps you can also use the restaurant reviews as a way to decide where your next girls’ night out will be!

Memphis, Tennessee – October 29th – 31st

It is imperative that all women have good girlfriends.  They can be the very foundation on which we stand to survive life’s mishaps and celebrate life’s goodness.  I am very fortunate and have a few close knit friends that I consider part of my family!

During this particular weekend, a couple of my girlfriends and I planned to see “Wicked” at the Orpheum  in Memphis, TN to celebrate Halloween weekend in a new and different way!  Ms. Katrina (my BF’s mom) kicked off the weekend by giving us a “Wicked” happy which included an adorable witch mug filled with all our favorite candies!

Next, my friends and I met for a girls’ night out dinner at a fabulous restaurant called Bluefin. (www.bluefinmemphis.com) If you are ever in Memphis, you MUST put this on your to-do list.

We started off our wonderful meal with an appetizer of edamame!

April and I wanted to try sushi and an entrée so we decided to split sushi and a flatbread pizza cooked in a wood oven.

Christina is the meat eater of the group so she enjoyed a delectable steak with shoestring French fries.  Everyone left the table impressed with the service, in awe of the atmosphere, and more than satisfied by the quality of food!

We had a blast watching “Wicked” at the Orpheum!!  If you are looking to plan an entertaining evening, check out the schedule to see when “Wicked” will be near you!

And of course the night was not over until we had DESSERT!!  Dessert came from Dreamcakes Bakery (www.dreamcakes-bakery.com)  located in the Edgewood District of Homewood in Birmingham, AL. Dreamcakes' cupcakes are definitely the best in the southeast, if not the entire country! My personal cupcake favorite is the "Simply Strawberry" followed closely by "Pumpkin".  April's favorite cupcake is "Over the Moon" which is a flavor that can only be found at Dreamcakes Bakery, and my husband's favorite cupcake is the traditional white cake with white icing that  is called "Wedding Cake".  They have a cupcake for everyone along the spectrum!

The imaginative flavors and wonderful quality make the cupcakes more than dessert, they are an experience! Their slogan perfectly describes this establishment, "Cupcakes make people happy!".

Let me know if you've tried Bluefin or Dreamcakes Bakery in the past or if you do in the future! I would love to hear reviews from other members of the NutriFocus family!!

In closing, I leave you with the following quote, which I feel fully describes a "healthy" relationship with food  -

"Everything in moderation... including moderation." ~ Julia Childs

TALKING TRUTH ABOUT TRANS-FATS!

What are trans fats?! This is a question I hear quite frequently from clients, family members, and friends so I thought writing a blog about it would be a great way to make us all smart food consumers that will ultimately benefit our health! Trans-fats were invented in the 1950’s by grocery manufacturers.  Since trans-fats are more solid than oil, it allows food to stay fresh longer, have a longer shelve life because they are less likely to spoil, and have a less greasy feel.

Trans-fats are created by a process known as hydrogenation.  Hydrogenation is the process of infusing oil’s fat molecule with hydrogen atoms, which creates a denser molecule and raises its melting point, so that the oil becomes solid at room temperature.   Typically, they appear on food labels as “partially hydrogenated oil” usually with vegetable or palm oil.  Partially hydrogenated oil means that the hydrogenation process was stopped short of a full solid, creating a creamier, semi-soft consistency, much like margarine.

How do you know whether food contains trans-fat? Read the ingredient list located on the back of all food products!  Fortunately, in 2003, the Food and Drug Administration adopted regulations requiring all manufacturers to include trans-fat content on their packaging. This regulation has been mandatory for all food manufacturers since 2006. Look for the words "partially hydrogenated" vegetable oil, which is another term for trans-fat, or shortening. Although the content of trans-fats are listed on the nutrition label, it is important you read the ingredient list due to a loophole most food manufacturers revert to so they can label their foods with 0g of trans-fats.  If a serving of food has less than 0.5g of trans-fats, the label may state zero!  If you read a food label and you notice the terms "fully" or "completely" hydrogenated oil, then the product does not contain trans-fats because the process used to make fully or completely hydrogenated oil does not result in the same trans-fatty acids. Small amounts of trans-fat do occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, but it's the processed trans-fats that are linked to increased health risks.

Recently, trans-fats have stolen the spotlight and people want to know why! The negative health implications that are related to trans-fats are so staggering that it is imperative that all Americans know what is in their food.  Trans-fats have been found to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. If your LDL level is high over time, it can cause an accumulation of fatty deposits on your artery walls which is known as atherosclerosis.  The deposits are referred to as plaque and can reduce the blood flow through your arteries.  A blood clot may form if the plaque tears away from the artery which can block blood flow to the heart or brain.  If blow flow to the heart is stopped, a heart attack occurs and if blood flow to part of the brain occurs, a stroke occurs.

Other health implications related to high trans-fat intake includes, a weakened heart, increased risk for diabetes, an increased triglyceride level, an increase in Lp(a) lipoprotein, and an increase in inflammation, which plays a major role in the formation of fatty blockages in heart blood vessels.

What should consumers do?! There is good news! Trans-fats are appearing less on grocery store shelves and some restaurants are working hard to reduce/ban the use of trans-fats in their establishments. Although most restaurants are not required to list trans-fat content, there are some establishments taking the initiative to make their food healthier for their customers.  In October of 2008, Chick-Fil-A announced they were eliminating trans-fats from every menu item. Other chains, such as McDonald's and KFC, have dropped trans-fats from cooking oil and many other products.  Some cities, such as New York City, have banned restaurants from using trans-fat and California became the first state to ban restaurant chains from using trans-fats for cooking or frying in 2008.  According the Food and Drug Administration and American Heart Association, there is no question that all individuals should limit trans-fat intake.

In summary, BE A SMART SHOPPER! Read labels and buy products with the smallest amount of trans-fat. Begin shopping for healthy fat sources that contain monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fast (omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids).  A healthy diet contains 25%-35% of your total daily calories from fat. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive, peanut and canola oils, fish, flaxseed and flaxseed oils and is considered a healthier option than saturated fat. Nuts, fish and other foods containing unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to protect the heart from cardiovascular disease.  Omega-6 fatty acids can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol and can be found in vegetable oils, meat, eggs, and dairy products.

MORE NUTRITION, BETTER SLEEP!

An essential and much under rated component of a healthy lifestyle is SLEEP. With the fast pace of today’s society, it can be the first component removed from our daily routine.  Not getting enough sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness, but more importantly, it can result in more serious health problems and cause you to become irritable, anxious, difficulty concentrating, and difficult regulating moods.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that chronic sleep deprivation can negatively impact the overall quality of a person’s life. The CDC also reported that insomnia may contribute to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. It is recommended that the average person achieve 6-9 hours of sleep per night.  Without the right amount of sleep, your body can not be efficient at performing daily tasks that keep your healthy. The immune system becomes compromised, which increases your chances of catching a cold or the flu. Insomnia may also increase your heart rate and blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease.

Many Americans have difficulties with sleep. Studies now indicate a connection between sleep problems and depression. Research shows that more than 80% of those suffering from depression experience insomnia or some type of sleep disturbance.  The psychological symptoms of sleep deprivation include: mood swings, irritability, impatience, anxiety, depression, fatigue, decreased alertness, impaired memory, and impaired judgment.  To increase the amount of sleep you get each night, there are several behaviors/patterns you can incorporate into your daily routine to improve your sleep hygiene, including improving your nutrition.

Nutrition, exercise, and sleep can play a vital role in managing and preventing depression. So often people who feel stressed, fatigued, and mentally “down” are under-exercised, malnourished, and under-rested. Time spent investing in your physical health is a wise investment.  When you give your body the proper elements, it can run efficient and accurately, much like a car running on high grade fuel.

An important and vital relationship exists between nutrition and depression. Nutrition can be play a major role in the onset, severity, and duration of depression. Many of the same eating patterns that occur prior to a depressive state are the same eating patterns that occur during depressive state. Patterns may include skipping meals, poor or decreased appetite, and a desire for sweets. Extremely low carbohydrate diets also put individuals at the risk of feeling depressed because tryptophan and serotonin are the brain chemicals that promote a feeling of well-being, and are triggered by consuming carbohydrate rich foods.

Vitamin deficiencies can be more prevalent among depressed individuals.  Vitamin deficiencies linked to depression include vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate deficiency. Folic acid deficiency can cause personality change and depression. As we age Vitamin B12 may not be absorbed as easily and at just marginally low levels, a deficiency can contribute to depression and memory problems.

To improve your quality of sleep, I recommend trying the following behaviors that promote good sleep hygiene!

  • Decrease stimulus in your home at least 1 hour before going to bed
  • Use the bedroom for sleep only.
  • Avoid consuming a heavy meal right before bedtime. Recommend consuming a snack if you are hungry before bed. Avoid going to bed too full or too hungry. Avoid sleeping when you're hungry or right after you've had a big meal
  • Exercising regularly to improve your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and improve  quality of sleep.  Preferably exercise in the morning or early afternoon. Avoid exercising within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine after lunch, such as cola, coffee or tea
  • Avoid drinking alcohol within 6 hours of bedtime. Although alcohol is a depressant and may induce sleep at first, it can easily be disrupted.
  • Keeping a regular scheduled bedtime and waking time. Plan to allow for 8 hours of sleep per night
  • Avoid smoking a cigarette before bedtime
  • Creating a comfortable environment that is conducive to sleep by eliminating uncomfortable bedding, wearing loose clothing, keeping the bedroom temperature slightly cool, and eliminating any bothersome noise or light
  • Eat at least three meals a day, including breakfast.
  • Try to replace refined sugars with fruit and whole grain carbohydrates.
  • Stay Hydrated! Drink at least eight 8oz glasses per day
  • Incorporate plenty of leafy greens for folic acid
  • Eat bananas, avocado, chicken, greens, and whole grains for Vitamin B6

Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for the NutriFocus family that you have personally found helpful in improving your quality and quantity of sleep?! If so please share by leaving a comment below!

Buy or Deny?: NutriFocus RD's Product Review

Arnold’s Bread now has “Healthful 10-Grain” which is a great way to get nutty, hearty bread without losing site of nutrition.  After trying 2 loaves, my husband and I both agree this bread is a keeper. I would highly recommend this bread to any of my clients, family, or friends for multiple reasons:

  • Arnold’s did a great job keeping this bread within proper portion size.
  • Each slice is equivalent to 1 carbohydrate exchange, contains 10 whole grains, and has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
  • Each slice is packed with whole wheat goodness, including 4 grams of fiber per slice!
  • Every slice is hearty and adds great texture and taste to sandwiches which helps keeps lunchtime boredom at bay
  • Each slice is packed with 5g of protein to help sustain your energy levels
  • Freezable! Does not lose taste or texture when frozen!!

Other Recommendation(s):

Add a little  color by putting Pecan Pumpkin Butter on a toasted sliced of Arnold's Healthful 10-Grain bread! Great way to add flavor and comfort to your breakfast or a great escape to enjoy for a snack! I personally like Williams-Sonoma's Pecan Pumpkin Butter which can easily be found in all stores during this time of year!

Arnold’s Healthful 10-grain bread can be found at most local grocery stores. I personally purchase this bread at Publix. I have not been able to locate this bread at Target. If anyone else finds this bread at a different location leave a comment and let us know!

Great Back to School Snack Recipe

I thought NutriFocus Fans might like this recipe from Whole Foods at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/recipe.php?recipeId=253 Apple Sandwiches with Granola and Peanut Butter - 2 servings

Kids will love to help you make this healthy snack since it's fun to spread the nut butter and sprinkle the chocolate chips. No corer in the kitchen drawer? Slice the apples into rounds first then use a small cookie cutter to remove the core from the center of each slice. Wrap sandwiches tightly and tuck them into lunchboxes, if you like.

2 small apples, cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional) 3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips 3 tablespoons granola Directions

If you won’t be eating these tasty treats right away, start by brushing the apples slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

Spread one side of half of the apple slices with peanut or almond butter then sprinkle with chocolate chips and granola. Top with remaining apple slices, pressing down gently to make the sandwiches. Transfer to napkins or plates and serve.