Thoughts of a Dietitian

Let’s Talk About Fiber

On Monday, I am teaching a class to 2nd and 3rd graders about whole grains and fiber. So all week I’ve been planning activities and worksheets to try to make it something enjoyable for the kids. Somewhat ironically, today I woke up to an article from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics about getting more fiber, so it seems almost full circle that today you and I are going to talk about… fiber!

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest. As a result, it helps you feel fuller longer (my main message to the kiddos!) which can aid with weight loss. Additionally, fiber can help lower cholesterol and improve your bowels. All good things, right?

When you think of high fiber foods, you should think of things like whole grains (hearty bread with nuts and seeds, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa), nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Our goal is to eat around 20g- 30g of fiber per day. One important thing to note is that you want to increase your fiber intake SLOWLY; if you start eating too much at once, your stomach will not be happy with you. Work on choosing one fiber rich food per meal and snack and you’ll be well on your way to reaping the benefits of fiber.

Looking for ideas on how to increase fiber intake? Check out this article from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Make Your Goals S.M.A.R.T

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Every week we set goals for ourselves that this is “our week.” Usually my goals include things like finishing a bunch of assignments early, making time to go running, or stressing less. I have to be honest that most weeks, I don’t accomplish any of those things. And maybe there’s a reason why.

In school, we learn a lot about teaching our clients S.M.A.R.T Goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Sensitive. So go back to the list above. How many of those things do you tell yourself on a regular basis? Are you like me and it doesn’t feel like your accomplishing them? What can you do now to make your goal S.M.A.R.T? An example would be “This week (by next Saturday) I will go for two thirty minute runs.” Its specific, I have a date stamp on there, and it’s something I know I can do.

I want everyone to work on making a S.M.A.R.T goal for this week. Is there anything you can take from this list above to make it a healthy-focused goal? If you’re still feeling a little stuck here’s a few ideas on how to get started.

Eat better? Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. Write out your plan for the week. Are you including a good balance of protein, healthy fat, and whole grains? Fruit or veggie at every meal?

Wake Up Earlier? Have you tried setting your alarm clock away from your bed so you have to wake up and get it? Keep a glass of water by your bed and take a sip when you first wake up. Find a 60-second stretching routine to start your day with. Most people are most productive in the morning so this is a great habit to pick up.

Experience Life? This automatically makes me think of the term mindful. It’s all about being present and enjoying what’s in front of you. Try getting a new bracelet or charm that you will have with you at all times. Make it your mindful item. Whenever you see or feel it make you to consciously stop what you are doing and look around.

Let me know what other goals you need help with and have a fabulous weekend!

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Is this healthy for me?

There are a few questions us dietitians (or soon-to-be dietitians) are very used to hearing. To name a few: What are the best foods for me to eat? Will eating X make me fat? Is this healthy for me? I  remember coming across this article in the NY Times this summer, and, well, I think it’s worth talking about!

To give you the general gist, they surveyed dietitians and the general public and asked them to rate how healthy they believed certain foods are. Items included in this survey included soy, frozen yogurt, pop corn, orange juice, and granola bars plus many more.

If you get a chance to look at this article, you’ll see how much the public’s opinion differs from the experts! Were there any foods that you thought were healthy but experts felt differently? If so, it’s probably not your fault. Advertisers are very good at tricking us into thinking foods are healthy when they are secretly just filled with junk. It can be hard to determine what foods belong in a healthy diet.

So what’s the bottom line? Most dietitians agree that any foods can be included in a healthy diet as long as they are in healthy amounts. I happen to really like froyo. Froyo is lower in calories than most ice cream, but it still contains a ton of sugar. So the point is I can enjoy my froyo as long as its in moderation and I’m eating evenly from all the food groups. Always remember moderation and balance and you’re already halfway to a healthy diet.

Recipes

The 5 P’s of Spaghetti Squash

Everyone knows we should eat more vegetables on a regular basis. But I get it, after a while eating steamed broccoli and green beans day after day gets boring. So why not try adding this yellow veggie (better known as spaghetti squash) to your repertoire!

Spaghetti squash is a winter squash that can provide a lower calorie, and higher nutrient, alternative to pasta. This vegetable is named rightfully so because once it’s cooked it because stringy like spaghetti. I’ll be honest: it takes a little muscle to prepare but once its open all you need to do is throw it in the oven to roast. Once it’s done you can add any sort of sauce you would to pasta- marinara sauce, meat sauce, Alfredo sauce, olive oil and herbs or fresh pesto.

So if you’ve never given spaghetti squash a try, here’s how to do it in 5 easy steps!

  1. Purchase: Spaghetti Squash is located near the potatoes and onions. Look for one that’s a bright happy yellow color!
  2. Preheat to 375o
  3. Prepare: Use your muscles to slice the squash in half. Scoop out the inside seeds and throw away.
  4. Pan: There’s some debate if you cook the squash face up or face down. Lately, I’ve been doing it face up and pouring some water into the center. Once the squash starts to brown, you can place some tin foil over top to prevent it from burning.
  5. Play: After roasting the squash for about 45 minutes (or until tender) scoop the stringy goodness into a bowl. Now play, play, play with all the different sauce possibilities to top your delicious veggie!

Happy Eating!

Recipes

Must Try Fall Dessert

Anyone else feel this pumpkin spice craze is starting unnecessarily early this year? For me, September is apple time and then by October I can jump on the pumpkin ship. Sticking with my gut, I decided to try out a new apple dessert- but with a twist: I added some pears as well!

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Did you know there are over 3,000 varieties of pears?! For this recipe I used pears growing on the pear tree at my parent’s house! If you’re like me and aren’t ready for pumpkin flavored everything yet give this recipe below a try!

Almond Pear Bars 

Ingredients:

CRUST:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (toasted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

FILLING:

  • 4 cups diced apples and pears (about 2 pounds total)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

TOPPING:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds (toasted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF. Grease a square pan (I used 8×8) and line with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all ingredients for the crust by hand. Press the dough into the pan as evenly as possible. Bake for 15 minutes.

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  1. While crust is baking, put diced fruit into sauce pan. Cover half the fruit with water and boil for 5 minutes. Your goal is to get the fruit ALMOST translucent, but do not overcook and turn your fruit into mush.
  2. While the fruit is simmering, prepare the topping. Mix all the ingredients for the topping by hand.
  3. Drain the fruit well. Toss cinnamon and sugar over the cooked fruit. Prior to adding the fruit to the crust, drain a second time. Do not pour any of the liquid onto the crust.
  4. Pour fruit mixture on top of crust. Sprinkle topping mixture on top of fruit. Bake for an addition 25 minutes until golden brown.

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The end result? Well liked by everyone! Its a good mix between a crisp-pie-bar-crumble. The dessert cut into nice squares but still retained the crumble topping! Give it a try the next time you need a fall flavored dessert!

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#motivationalmonday

Happy Labor Day, Friends!

I hope everyone has had a great weekend so far and indulged on lots of end-of-the-summer goodies! For me this weekend was a great chance to recharge and reenergize myself before classes start tomorrow.

This weekend, I had a great talk with my brother. So this week’s #mondaymotivation is brought to you by him!

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What’s the worst that can happen? As someone who constantly worries over EVERYTHING this is a huge challenge for me. If anyone else out there has anxiety you can probably relate- so this is something I am really trying to work on these days. When you start worrying, I need to consciously put my worry into perspective. Chances are whatever you are fearing will only last a few hours, so in reality why are we wasting time worrying about it.

Are you a worrier? How can you push yourself out of your comfort zone and into greatness? This week join me in challenging yourself to put your worries into perspective and enjoy a worry free (or worry reduced) life!

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Finding Inspiration in Taylor Swift

What does it take to become a registered dietitian? What even is a registered dietitian? Let me explain!

A registered dietitian (RD) is an expert on nutrition who is licensed to provide education and nutrition therapy to clients. This is different from a nutritionist, whom is not licensed and may or may not have gone to school for nutrition. In order to call yourself a RD you must complete a bachelors in nutrition, complete a 1200-hour supervised practicum, and pass the registered dietitian exam. Simple enough right?

Currently I am completing my masters degree AND my 1200-hour (unpaid) internship and basically saying ‘I am busy’ is a huge understatement. Whenever people ask me how school is my sarcastic self always responds “Yeah, I love working 20 hours a week for free and drowning in school work.” Some days are definitely easier than others, but I guess that’s life. I love what I am studying and wouldn’t change it for the world (but maybe could I change the workload?!?) I will be done in December and eligible to take my exam the beginning of next year. So while it feels like that day is never going to come, please join me on my last 104 day journey as a student.

My parting thoughts on this, maybe Taylor Swift was right when she said “It’s miserable and magical at the same time.” Which is pretty convenient for this song to be my motto for the last 104 days of school because it’s also my last 104 days as a 22 year old.