Back to School Pot Roast


I awoke this morning to faint celebratory screams of delight from parents around the neighborhood. Today for many, is the first day back to school. Although some kiddos out there may lack some of their parent’s enthusiasm, there is something wonderful about  new backpacks, freshly sharpened pencils, and a bright outlook on fresh beginnings.

Fresh beginnings. While many have this outlook on New Year’s, I think back to school is the perfect time to revamp your resolutions or even make new ones. You’re adjusting to a different schedule and having to getting reoriented and reorganized. Perfect time to start some healthy habits I’d say!

Not sure where to start? Start with family dinner. If you have kids, you might get a bit dizzy when you flash back to past hectic schedules and those demanding ravenous mouths who will wreak havoc until they are appeased. I can’t say all nights will be smooth sailing and your cup of tea, BUT you can help yourself out with some easy and nutritious meals you can plop at the table with and unwind. One such recipe is pot roast in the crock pot. By setting aside about 15-20 minutes in the morning you can prep it all, throw it in the pot, turn it on low and let the rest take care of itself. Best of all, when you come home, all you have to worry about is keeping its heavenly aroma from making you drool everywhere until you can get it on a plate.

This is how I prepare roast at home, and it is a hit every time. No bouillon cubes, no store-bought seasoning packets with questionable ingredients. If you’re wondering what type of roast to get, know that sirloin beef roasts  or round roasts are among the leanest. I actually used a shoulder roast the other night because it was in our freezer, and it has a little higher fat content. I really like this to see how they all compare. You can use beef broth or red wine in this recipe to really get the juices flowing. I used beef broth the other night, but looking back on my week, I probably should have gone for the wine….

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Frantically thrown together with a toddler hanging on my leg. As long as it all makes it in the pot, it tastes amazing 8 hours later!

 

Back to School Pot Roast (slow cooker recipe)                                                     Serves about 6
Prep time: ~20 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2.5 -3 lb beef roast (I used a shoulder roast, but can use loin or round cuts if trying to go leaner)
1 14.5 oz can low sodium beef broth or 1 cup of red wine
10-12 Carrots, peeled
Golden or red potatoes ( about a 1.5 lb bag)
1 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, lightly sprinkle roast with salt and pepper on each side.
  2. Brown each side of roast in pan, transfer to crock pot. Return pan to heat.
  3. Carefully pour beef broth or red wine into pan, gently scraping the bottom with a spatula to mix all that beefy goodness left behind. Heat for about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour pan mixture into crock pot, over browned roast.
  5. Layer carrots, onions, potatoes, and garlic over the top.
  6. Add thyme, bay leaves, and a little more salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Cover crock pot and cook on low for about 8-10 hours.
  8. Let that amazing smell hit your face when you walk in the door and enjoy!

Turn the TV off, put on some music, and enjoy this meal over some good ol’ family conversation. There’s usually lots to talk about in the first days of back to school!:) Let me know how it turns out for you.

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Plotting his next move…

Until next time!

Why I hate Dr. Oz and a list of actual credible web sites for health information


For today’s post, I’m going to go on a bit of a rant. Bear with me. The media Is. Full. Of. Garbage. You are well aware of this already, I know. What gets to me, as many health professionals can relate, is that the web, TV, radio, and some popular books/magazines are FULL of bogus health advice driven by ignorance, marketing schemes, personal opinions, and a lack of scientific data that misguides the public, who are only looking for answers. I, myself, will often do internet searches on a health topic on a site that I think is legit then have to do a double take at what I’m reading and question their sources (if they even have any).

Let me beat up on Dr. Oz. Ask any dietitian, we are not fond of Dr. Oz. Dr. Oz is not a dietitian. He is a doctor, yes. A cardiac surgeon. So of course, he knows EVERYTHING about nutrition and weight loss, right? Dr. Oz makes a fortune using these formulaic, flowery sales pitches. He picks a cool sounding ingredient, then sells it as a miracle cure for this and that, without any scientific backing, or evidence-based guidelines supporting it. Health professionals are angry. Consumers are angry. He actually got in trouble not too long ago for these claims and total disregard for evidence-based medicine and nutrition. He scares me.

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Don’t turn to Dr. Oz for nutrition advice. My husband made a good point the other day on the topic, remarking, “Would you go to a podiatrist to operate on your brain?” Well, I would hope not. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told, “but Dr. Oz said….” then I have to do damage control (no, I don’t slap them in the face, but I may or may not be batman in my spare time). It is not fair to you, and it is definitely not fair to dietitians, doctors, and other health professionals who work so hard in getting credible information to the public.  YOUR primary care physician (who knows your medical history) or a registered dietitian (RD) is your best bet, I promise. We RD’s require at least a bachelors of science degree in dietetics, followed by an extensive, supervised post-graduate internship, followed by a huge registration exam, then obtaining national registration by the Commission of Dietetics, and obtaining licensure by the state as well.

Unfortunately, it’s true, evidence-based nutrition recommendations don’t sound as exciting. Eating your fruits and vegetables, varying your diet with whole foods, and exercising probably wouldn’t make a very popular TV show (I at least try to make this blog entertaining…). This is what science supports however, and does not support these quick fixes or miracles in a bottle that cost $$$.  The American Association of Nutrition and Dietetics advocates a healthy overall diet pattern, and to not focus on any single ingredient for health or to prevent disease. This is why I hate fad diets, which tend to eliminate certain food groups and don’t focus on variety. Nutritional deficiencies, weight regain after they’re over, and health complications are too often the result.

Dr. Oz is just one of the many culprits out there. Internet searches for health/nutrition info are not much better. I notice a lot of misinformation is often right at the top of the search, and more legit sites are at the bottom, if at all. There is a lot of unnecessary fear mongering in finding nutrition info as well, which ties me back to my post on that.

 Two major things to remember. First, any fad diet that advocates an elimination of a food group is not backed by science and could have detrimental consequences to your health. Second, always check with your health care provider before introducing any dietary supplement. Just because it is advertised as “natural,” doesn’t always mean it’s safe for you, especially if you have medical conditions or are on other medications that could potentially interact.

Ok. Rant over. The good news is there are ethical, legitimate health and nutrition resources out there for you. You just have to be careful. Even websites written by doctors can sometimes be part of a marketing scheme and not backed by sound science. Save yourself from poor dietary advice by only going to trusted sources that use nothing but scientific evidence-based guidelines to support their claims. Websites that end in .edu, .org, or .gov are more likely to be better sources. Or, you can always come see me!:) Here are a few to check out.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics www.eatright.org

American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org

Office of Dietary Supplements – by NIH https://ods.od.nih.gov/ (this is a great site to check if you are thinking of taking a supplement..)

National Institutes of Health (NIH) https://www.nih.gov/health-information

Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/nutrition.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/index.html

The Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle

The American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/GettingHealthy_UCM_001078_SubHomePage.jsp

Health.gov – contains 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

Choose My Plate – USDA http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Until next time! Check out http://www.food4success.com for more information on how to make an appointment to come see me or for my class schedule!

Lemon Rosemary Chicken


And just like that, it’s August. Where did July go? Where did June go? Every year seems to go by faster and faster. I look at my baby who I’m still in disbelief is 2 and I try to freeze the image of his little face in my mind before he grows up a second more. All this makes me realize we need to stop and smell the roses (or maybe some lemon rosemary chicken) once in a while. Enjoying delicious, nourishing food is such a gift, and we all deserve it once in awhile, no matter how busy you are. Lemon rosemary chicken is a way to indulge without a big hassle.

 I’ve had friends tell me they don’t like to mess with whole chickens, but boy they sure are economical, and with this recipe, pretty easy to cook. While I like cooking with chicken breasts for many of my recipes, they often cost $8-$10 a package. A whole freakin’ chicken I can get actually cheaper for $6-$7, plus you have dark and white meat. You also have way more leftover possibilities as well, stretching your dollar even more. I think the toughest part for me cooking a whole chicken is ironically just remembering to take it out to thaw in enough time. 

If raw chicken makes you squeamish, check out my post on kitchen sanitation. There’s a few tips there on how to prevent the spread of salmonella or other unpleasant germs. If you are new to cooking whole chicken, make sure to remove the giblets while prepping, The good news here is some brands already have the giblets removed, saving you the trouble. I’m all about one pot/pan meals, so this is another easy clean-up recipe. I throw peeled carrots and golden potatoes in with mine to soak up the amazing flavors from the chicken and it’s wholesome, nutrient packed broth

So slow down, relax, and munch on this amazing chicken. It’s a guiltless way to be nice to yourself.

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Fresh rosemary clipped from the garden, and lemon = smells heaven

 

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, with giblets removed.

4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
1-2 lemons halves (1 for inside of chicken, 1 optional for garnish)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Potatoes, chopped (golden, red, or peeled russets all work well)
Carrots, peeled (I used about 8)
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil (I use extra virgin)
Poultry seasoning
Sea Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Pull out a large roasting pan.
  2. Prepare chicken by seasoning cavity with salt and pepper, place in pan.
  3. Warn the chicken by exclaiming, “pardon me,” then stuff rosemary, one lemon half, and garlic into its cavity.
  4. Arrange peeled carrots and chopped potatoes around chicken, as many as you desire.
  5. Drizzle entire thing with olive oil, make sure chicken is coated well (I give mine a little massage…hey, it’s the least I could do at after what I just did to it)
  6. Sprinkle poultry seasoning over chicken, carrots and potatoes until lightly coated. Season with salt and black pepper to your preference.
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  7. Cover with chicken with lid and throw in the oven. Roast for 1 1/2 hours. If you want to it to come out truly juicy, baste chicken with drippings about every half hour. Chicken is done when internal temp reads 165 degrees or higher.
  8. Let chicken rest just for a few minutes then carve and enjoy. Garnish with leftover lemon if you wish. Make sure you spoon up some of that nourishing broth all over it!

Let me know how it works out for you!

Remember, if you are in need of nutritional counseling, this dietitian is here to help! Check out http://www.food4success.com for more info on my services. Want to learn how to properly portion carbs? Join us Thursday, August 18th at 6:30pm for my class, Carb Counting Made Easy, held at the office. Contact me for more info!

Until next time!

Homemade Power Bars


This summer heat is awful. Right now my temperature gauge reads 102 outside, and says it “feels like” 110. That’s not a typo. 110 degrees!! Anything we can do with the tot outside is pretty much first thing in the morning, or around 7-8pm in the evening before he passes out. Blah, I’m ready for Fall.

The heat unfortunately forces my sluggish, sweaty self to put on my thinking cap and get creative with things to do in one of God’s greatest creations – AC. Museums, malls (if Matthew will allow it), whatever. When we play at home, I try to keep things interesting, including the snacks we have in the afternoon. A friend of mine brought some of these delicious granola bars she had made and shared the recipe with me. I made them myself last week, and did a little bit of tweaking to make it work with what I had on hand. These nutrient-packed bars made for a delicious, energy packed snack, giving our sluggish selves just the energy boost we needed, while satisfying our sweet tooths (teeth?). So, I’m calling them Power Bars, or to humor my 2 year old, Super Power Bars (hey, they are packed with fiber, omega 3 from the flax seed, and protein that any super hero would need to do their super hero thang).

Want to know one more perk of these easy bars? They are no bake! Just refrigerate for at least an hour, then cut them up and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. They are perfect for snacks, throwing in school lunches (that’s coming up ya know..), or a wholesome source of nutrition on the go.

Allergy Alert: These bars contain peanuts and tree nuts

Homemade Power Bars (adapted from Super Healthy Kids.com’s recipe)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup oats, dry
1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped cashews (depending on how cashew-y you like it)
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1/3 cup ground flax seed (make sure you get ground..)
1/2 cup chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup peanut butter, melted in the microwave
1/2 cup honey

Directions:
1) Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper. You can also use a 9 x 13 pan for thinner bars. Make sure you leave excess paper on the sides so you can easily lift it up from the pan once you pack your mixture in. Set aside.

2) Combine oats, finely chopped nuts, ground flax seed, chocolate chips, and sea salt in a large bowl.
3) Melt peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl, I put mine in for about 1 minute and that did the trick.
4) Add honey to peanut butter and mix well.
5) Pour honey/peanut butter mixture into large bowl with rest of ingredients, stirring into completely mixed.
6) Pack mixture into the parchment-paper lined pan and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour. 20160720_143626
7) When chilled, lift parchment paper from pan with mixture, slice into bars, and store in an airtight container. You can store at room temp for up to 10 days, or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (I personally enjoy them cold…especially in this face-melting heat).

If you have a few minutes one day, give them a try! Just a few minutes will set you up with a nutritious treat for anytime hunger sets in during the week.  Let me know how they work for you!

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Check out http://www.food4success.com for a list of my services as a registered dietitian, and check out my class schedule if you live in the area!

Until next time!

‘Mazing Meatloaf


What comes to your mind when you hear someone talk about meatloaf? For a long time the image of a frazzled looking cafeteria lady plopping a loaf of molded meat on my tray kept popping up in my weird mind. So I steered clear of it for the longest time, until I made the Better Homes and Gardens recipe one day that I was feeling brave. I felt so silly afterwards, it was delicious! Such a shame it has such an unappealing name and stigma (to me anyways..).

Since meatloaf is a big hit in my family, I have experimented with it over the years. I’ve made it like my grandma would make it, I’ve tried different recipes, and I’ve tried to figure out how to make it healthier. Taking a little from here, a little from there, I came up with something both my family is pleased with taste-wise and I am pleased with nutritionally. And no, it’s not turkey loaf. While I have nothing against turkey, my family prefers their loaf of meat in the form of beef.

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Meatloaf pans are especially great for draining off the extra fat!

So if you like beef meatloaf too, and are looking for a way to make it a little healthier, try this out. I skipped traditional breadcrumbs because unfortunately the ones in the store have a pretty scary ingredient list. Panko crumbs do much better. Beef still can be part of a healthy diet if you choose lean and eat it in moderation. It’s great for preventing iron-deficiency anemia that is common in women of childbearing years and children, and of course, it is an excellent source of protein. It also has zucchini snuck in there, great for trying to sneak more vegetables into your loved ones. Last, I cut down the sugar in the sauce found in many recipe books. It was still enjoyable and a sweet compliment. 

‘Mazing Meatloaf                                                                                                Serves about 6

Ingredients:

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Can’t have meatloaf without some homemade mashed potatoes. Just remember, 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes = 1 serving

1/2 cup onion, diced
2/3 cup Panko Japanese bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup zucchini, grated and chopped in small pieces
1 egg, beaten
2 lbs lean ground beef (I used 96% lean) 

Sauce (optional) :
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried mustard

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Take off your rings and mush it all up with your hands, until it is mixed well.
3) Pat meat mixture into a greased loaf pan (I used cooking spray).
4) Wash your hands well and make sure you get your rings back on.
5) Bake in preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours. In the meantime
, combine ingredients for sauce in a small bowl, mix well.
6) Remove from oven, drain off excess grease.
7) Pour sauce over top if desired, then bake an additional 10 minutes
8) Check internal temperature with a cooking thermometer, should be 165 degrees or higher when it is truly done.

Enjoy and let me know how it turns out for you! Also, check out www.food4success.com for more information on my nutritional counseling and education services if you live in the area!

Eat Your Vegetables Soup


 

I know what you’re thinking. “She’s blogging about soup when it’s 100000 degrees outside??” Yeahhh…I am. I love soup though, and while it is much more cozy in the Fall/Winter, I crave it all the same. Plus, when I made it yesterday and my 2 year old inhaled 2 whole bowls of it, I thought it might be worth sharing.  AND if that’s not enough, it is loaded with vegetables, so if you are looking for a tasty way to sneak extra vegetables into somebody, this is a good way to go about it.

So, as I sit here eating a bowl of this leftover soup (makes for good leftovers), here is the recipe to try at home. It has no artificial ingredients, and is reduced sodium compared to many versions if you use no added salt canned products, and low sodium broth. You can also get creative with herbs and spices if you feel like it needs more of a kick, like cumin or chili powder. Because I served this as a main dish, I added leftover cooked, chopped up chicken as a source of protein.

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Eat Your Vegetables Soup                                                                                   Serves about 8 

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 teaspoons minced garlic
4 14.5 oz cans of low sodium chicken broth (can sub with vegetable broth too)
2 14.5 oz cans of no salt added diced tomatoes (undrained)
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 1/2-3 cups potatoes, chopped (I used baby golden so I didn’t have to peel them..)
1 14.5 oz can no salt added green beans
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: Chopped cooked chicken, as much as you’d like
Optional: 1 teaspoon cumin or chili powder, for spice

Directions:
1) Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery, and carrot for about 3 minutes
2) Add minced garlic, sauté a couple minutes more
3) Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, (cumin or chili powder if desired) and chopped potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, but as always, go easy on the salt.
4) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer covered for about 30 minutes.
5) Add green beans, peas, corn, and if desired, cooked chicken. Cook until all heated through.

Like any recipe that has fresh vegetables, chopping them up the night before and throwing them in a ziplock bag in the fridge is a great time saver for that dinner time rush. Or if you are in a pinch, frozen mixed vegetables can work as well. Let me know how it works out for you!

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Happily eating his second bowl…

This Thursday, July 14 at 6:30pm I will be holding another Carbohydrate Counting Made Easy class at the office. If you are confused on what proper carb portioning should look like, have diabetes, or want to prevent diabetes, this is a great class for you! Check out www.food4success.com for more info.

 

Until next time!

Screw It, We’re Eating Out!


Hello! I am sorry I haven’t been able to post for a couple weeks now. Life gets hard sometimes. Very hard. During those times I feel even more extremely blessed to have such supportive and caring people in my life. I also am thankful I have writing as a creative outlet, if you will. While this blog is not popular by any means, I do enjoy doing it and sharing information that could possibly be helpful to someone else. If you don’t have a creative outlet, you need one. It makes such a difference in coping and stress management.

We are not perfect. As a dietitian, I never expect perfection. My own diet is definitely not perfect. Without trying to sound too cheesy, it’s the journey that really counts, and that means making the best choices for your health the majority of the time and having an overall healthy attitude towards life. Things happen, and when a curveball is thrown at you, you shouldn’t be guilted into maintaining perfect perfection in every aspect of your life, including with everything you put in your mouth.

During times like these, I am definitely not in the mood to cook. So screw it, we eat out, or pick something up. Even though perfect nutrition isn’t what I want to think about at the time, I do still want something half-way decent for my family and myself. There are ways to make eating out a little better for you.

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Yes, he is eating ice cream…

I originally made these tips for those with diabetes, but these really apply to all of us.

  1. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. If you are unsure how big a restaurant’s portion sizes are, or what’s in something, it is never wrong to ask.
  2. Look up menus in advance so you have a better idea of healthy choices you can make before you get there.
  3. Take advantage of restaurants that allow you to call-ahead or make reservations to avoid an unpredictable wait time. Really helpful with a toddler, or if you have diabetes.
  4. If making a reservation, this is a good time to ask if they can accommodate special requests.
  5. Try to eat the same portion of a food you would eat at home. Restaurant plates are usually always bigger. It’s OK to share the rest with someone or take it home with you.
  6. Ask for sauces, dressings, gravies, etc. on the side so you have control on how much you’d like to add.
  7. Aim for unbreaded meats. The breading in restaurants can add more carbohydrates than you may realize.
  8. Get creative with ordering. Maybe order a side of fruit for an appetizer or a dessert rather than the higher carb options listed. Combine soup and a salad if the dinner entrées are not in your diet plan.
  9. Ask about substitutions. Many places will allow a salad in place of fries, or will let you double an order of vegetables.
  10. If you get a baked potato, order it plain and add any butter (and maybe non-starchy vegetables from the salad bar) yourself.
  11. If you are going out for pizza, skip the deep dish and go for thin or reg crust loaded with vegetables, or maybe get a side salad.
  12. Order unsweet tea or water instead of a soda.
  13. If you choose to have an alcoholic drink, choose options that aren’t mixed with a high sugar mixer (margaritas, daiquiris)
  14. If you have a good experience at a restaurant, make sure to let them know. Restaurants are always trying to boost their business by providing what customers want.
  15. If you find a place that serves vegetables on their kids menu, make a point to shower praise to the waiter or manager. Most restaurants offer adults sides other than fries, and it should be the same for kids too. Hard for them to expand their palates it if they are never offered any variety.

So maybe a meal out isn’t always perfect, but there is always a little wiggle room to make it a little better.

For those of you wondering, Matthew’s 2 year old party went great! It was fun watching little tots splish-splash outside, and the rain held off perfectly until we had lunch. If you are looking for a ridiculously easy but healthy party snack idea – watermelon on a stick. It’s cold like a popsicle, easy to eat for kids and for adults who don’t want sticky hands, and its about as natural as you can get. Thanks, Pinterest!

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Leftovers, too busy with a wet, slippery toddler to get pictures of them at the party

 

One last thing. As some of you know already, I have a private practice, Food 4 Success, LLC where I offering nutritional counseling and education for all sorts of things. Check out www.food4success.com for more information, or to get more details on my next Carbohydrate Counting class on July 14. It is full of must-know information for those with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or wanting to learn proper carbohydrate portioning for weight loss/weight maintenance.

Until next time!