Most of the time, we think homemade means hours and hours of difficult prep and cooking. On the good days, though, I can create a homemade meal in what feels like minutes.
I literally make myself stop and apply the knowledge that I do have regarding food and the kitchen. Sometimes I lean on what I learned from my mother in the kitchen, and other times I rely on Google. Whoever you are, there's a base of what you know to prepare. Take that knowledge and commit to applying it the best you can. You might be surprised by the results.
Example: Chicken and Rice Soup
I haven been wanting to use up some of the things in my freezer. Specifically, leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. I kept thinking that homemade chicken noodle soup sounded good. The best thing I did to accomplish such a delicious meal was to bucket and break up the steps.
Step 1/Day 1: Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator (I did this over the weekend).
Step 2/Day 2: Dice carrots and celery, sauté with seasonings. Shred chicken.
Step 3/Day 2: Properly store each of the major ingredients.
Step 4/Day 2 or 3: When I'm ready, I dump in the stock, the rice (I didn't have egg noodles so found an alternative recipe) and already cooked carrots/celery/chicken.
I have to do some of the cooking steps ahead of time so that I can quickly assemble later (in 15 minutes or less). Why? I have two kids under the age of 5. There's not a ton of joy in boiling water on a hot stove while being ran over by a 1-year-old in a walker, while playing Legos with a 4-year-old. Basically, I don't want to have to assemble all ingredients, dice, chop, sauté, and boil all at one time. I want to dump it all in a pot and let it cook on its own.
Here are some things I routinely do to cut down dinner cooking time:
Believe it or not, break rooms gets their fair share of attention when it comes to nutrition counseling. Many clients master their nutrition at home only to find that their workplace becomes a downfall. The break room becomes a dumping ground for unhealthy treats people don't want to keep at home or there's a vending machine that keeps sugary beverages at the perfect temperature. The types of work situations vary, but all-in-all, most of my clients feel as if the break room is not helping their efforts to be healthy. This is especially true around the holidays. This year, you can help make a positive change by thinking about non-dessert treats that our friends and co-workers can enjoy. For all of the other goodies that will be trickling in, here are a few tips to help you avoid break room blues.
Elimination diets seem to be one of the biggest current nutrition trends. Examples of elimination diets include gluten-free, dairy-free and no sugar diets. Restricting foods items, however, proves challenging and oftentimes less beneficial than intended outcomes.
The January 2017 issue of Pediatric News noted that, "removing gluten from a child's diet would improve that child's healthy only if that child has been confirmed to have an actual condition (i.e., the child has Celiac disease)." The point here is that gluten is not always at fault for the symptoms that associate with Celiac disease, which means other causes should be explored to truly make a positive difference in health outcomes. Other things that cause symptoms similar to those from Celiac disease include:
It's best to eat a variety of healthy, nutrient dense foods in moderation. It is also important to identify actual allergies and intolerances.
Food allergies cause actual immune system reactions.
Food intolerances are usually digestive in nature and are less severe.
Your physician can help you confirm or rule out any actual disease or allergy diagnosis. Once allergies are ruled out, then possible intolerances can be addressed. A registered dietitian can help you manage your conditions with individualized plans that coincide with your physician's findings and recommendations.
1. Food allergy vs. food intolerance. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/expert-answers/food-allergy/FAQ-20058538?p=1
2. Food allergy. https://medlineplus.gov/foodallergy.html
3. Haelle, Tara. Pediatric News. Clinical Rounds. January 2017. Restrict gluten if necessary, but confirm condition first. Expert Analysis from AAP 16.
Author: Kari Johnson
Have you ever wondered how to navigate the nutrition label on your food items? Here is an easy way to highlight the important parts of a nutrition label. It will also help you determine if your portion size exceeds your daily needs in calories, fats, sodium, and sugar.
1. Start with Serving Size: Look for both the serving size and the number of servings in the package. Then you can compare if you eat only 1 serving, less, or more. If you eat 2 servings then you would double all nutrients (calories, fats, sodium, sugar, ect..).
2. Check calories per serving: It’s beneficial to cut back on calories if you are watching your weight.
3. Fats: Aim for 5% or less in saturated fats, little to no trans fats, and low total fats.
4. Sodium: Limit sodium intake. Overall intake is 2,400 mg per day
5. Fiber and Sugar: Fiber is beneficial for the body with no limit needed on packages. Added sugars, listed below total sugars, should be limited. High sugar intake can make it difficult to meet nutrient needs within your calorie requirement.
6. Protein: Eating moderate portions of protein foods such as lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, beans and peas, peanut butter, seeds and soy products.
7. % Daily Value: This is listed for a person consuming 2,000 calories a day. Estimated calorie amount varies per person.
1. Sodium in Your Diet: Use the Nutrition Facts Label and Reduce Your Intake. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2015. https://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm315393.htm
2. Understanding Food Nutrition Labels. American Heart Association. 2015. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HeartSmartShopping/Reading-Food-Nutrition-Labels_UCM_300132_Article.jsp#.WfYTYohryUk
3. Wolfram T. The basics of the Nutrition Facts Label. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/nutrition-facts-and-food-labels/the-basics-of-the-nutrition-facts-panel
1. JAND. "Have a food-safe holiday season". (2017). USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion Center. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2017.08.123.
The turmeric plant is native in tropical South Asia and has been used for many centuries. The yellow pigment of turmeric is called curcumin and is the beneficial part of the turmeric root to help fight inflammation in your body.
What is inflammation?
Caution: Consumption should be in moderation, 1g per day and toxic amounts can cause stomach ulcers.
Use: With its fragrant aroma and bitter/peppery taste, it is great in many food dishes.
Golden Chicken Marinade Recipe
Marinade 1.5-2 pounds of chicken breasts in half of the golden marinade for 2 hours or longer in the refrigerator. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes. Serve over zucchini noodles and reserved sauce.
Healthy and delicious!
Authors: Kari Johnson & Cheyenne Richards
Have you ever wondered how much ranch is too much? The recommended serving size is 2 tablespoons; however, each brand varies in calories, fat, and sugar content. The tables below compare some ranch favorites found at your local grocery store.
How do different brands/labels rank?
#1 Homemade (Recipe below)
#2 OPA Greek Yogurt Ranch
#3 Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Ranch
#4 Hidden Valley Light Ranch
#5 Hidden Valley Simply Ranch
#6 Hidden Valley Original Ranch
#7 Ken’s Steak House Ranch
#8 Marzetti Classic Ranch
The benefits of using non-fat Greek Yogurt with live cultures as your dressing base:
Author: Kari Johnson
Slow cookers are a great way to cook meals in an easy, budget friendly way with limited mess. Who doesn’t love just cleaning one pot after meal time? With its ease of operation, there are several common mistakes made when using a slow cooker. Here are some tips to break these habits to make cooking with your slow cooker a success.
1. Overfilling or underfilling your slow cooker.
Guest Author: Kari Johnson
Eating a healthy, whole diet can reduce your risk of developing some forms of cancer, and also help in the prevention of other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Studies have shown the relationship between diet and certain cancers; bowel, stomach, mouth, esophageal, and breast cancer.
Making healthy choices for your health means:
1. Eating an increased variety of fruits and vegetables, rich in fiber, that can reduce the risk of certain cancers by 25 to 40 percent.
2. Reducing intake of processed and red meats.
5. Limiting Alcohol consumption.
A healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grains, and water can help reduce the risk of many disease such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
I love parts of the Whole 30 diet.
Eating foods with very few ingredients ✓
Consuming ingredients that you can pronounce ✓
Healthy gut ✓
Given these great parts, I (and many other RDs I know) still rarely recommend the Whole 30 diet to clients. It’s simply too unrealistic for most people. For example, there’s oftentimes a conversation like the one below.
Following this type of conversation, are a few days of diet misery and then some rationale to quit.
Bottom line, diet choices affect many things. Some of the majors factors include:
Instead of suddenly diving into a popular trend diet, work with a dietitian on a plan that is tailored to you. This will ensure that it’s realistic. In addition, it adds a level of accountability because you helped create the plan. There is also ample research that shows how elimination diets (no dairy, no wheat, etc.) can actually have detrimental effects for people who don’t really have food allergies or intolerances. All in all, take the positives from this diet trend (e.g., think about how you can add more vegetables) and add it to your own tailored program.
Dietetic interns are valuable resources as they bring new and fresh information from various settings (e.g., hospitals, universities, etc.) to private practices like Nutrition Rites. We're lucky enough to have Kari Johnson join our team.
Kari is currently a Dietitian Nutritionist student at Eastern Michigan University online while residing in Beaufort, South Carolina. Before entering into school, Kari was a SC chef with a purpose of incorporating local, fresh produce and products into each dish she served. Kari has worked with MUSC’s Heart Healthy camp for children, volunteered at long term care facilities, and is currently working with a local school to incorporate nutrition programs for elementary age students. Nutrition has truly changed Kari’s life and she is excited to share the positive results a healthy diet can make on one’s life. When Kari is not working on school, she enjoys spending time with her family, camping, backpacking, woodworking, and traveling the world.
Specific to Nutrition Rites, Kari is spending her October coming to Charleston to shadow consultations, create blog and newsletter content, work on marketing plans, research new foods, etc.
Historically, diets that nixed dairy were a result of allergy and/or lactose intolerance. More recently, non-dairy trends seem to be by-products of consumer demands for more plant-based items (e.g., soy and almond milks) for various reasons (e.g., following a Paleo diet). In general, when I ask someone why they're cutting dairy from their diets, they answer one of two ways: (1) I heard it's good to cut dairy or (2) I want to decrease inflammation.
It's true that dairy can cause inflammation, but typically this is in someone who actually has an allergy or intolerance. Dairy has many nutrients (e.g., Calcium, protein, Vitamin D, probiotics) and has been shown to lessen the factors of metabolic syndrome. That's not to say that I would recommend people consume nothing but dairy. The recommended amount is 2-3 low-fat servings each day (e.g., 1 Cup of Milk or 1oz cheese). I typically leverage dairy for its protein content. I add feta to a salad or have a slice of provolone with an apple for a snack. However, in the spirit of understanding, I went 10 days without dairy.
Here were the highlights:
My dad also participated throughout the 10 day period. Being very different, anatomically, we still shared many of the same findings. Bottom line, he and I will both continue to consume dairy. We'll simply be more mindful and consider even healthier replacements when it's convenient. Overdoing dairy has its own outcomes (e.g., constipation, weight gain, etc.) that neither one of us wants.
Basic rules of dairy:
I've had it on my list to write something about Amazon buying out Whole Foods for over $13 billion. After doing a little reading myself, here are a few thoughts...
Forbes contributor Bruno Aziza discusses the many facets of Amazon using Whole Foods' brick-and-mortar presence to collect additional data that can predict profitable sales trends. All this time, I thought that Whole Foods was kind of like Apple in that it gave us what we didn't know we wanted. I didn't know what I was missing out on until I had a smart phone. Similarly, I didn't know kale was the new spinach until Whole Foods starting marketing it like nobody's business.
A New York Times article highlights Whole Foods' competition as Safeway, Costco and Walmart. Tricky, indeed, for Whole Foods and Amazon alike. I enjoy those times I get produce from Costco. I get more of the same (organic) product for less. On the flip side, I usually err on the side of shopping at Whole Foods for the convenience. Since the stores aren't huge, I can in short order find everything food-related that I need without walking two miles. I think Amazon knows this. They've been dabbling in the grocery market for some time now as it's clear people will pay for grocery delivery (or pick-up or shopping). They want to fix a problem that all of us busy working professionals and stay-at-home moms with screaming toddlers have.
Joshua Rothman paints a fairly dire picture of an Amazon lifestyle takeover in his New Yorker article, "What Amazon's Purchase of Whole Foods Really Means." All in all, I'm not too worried. People are still people. We need human interaction, and there are several trends over the last few years that prove how we'll continue to use public places to socialize (even with food and drink). I've been a part of a mom meal prep group. After cooking 24 meals in one day to later swap with other moms, I'd be down for grocery delivery of the ingredients. How about urban and community garden trends? They're out there and thriving. Chains like Royal Blue Grocer and Caviar and Bananas keep us in both coffee and specialty foods.
How To: Clean a Garbage Disposal
Eating prior to exercise...
One new study highlights the possible benefits of exercising without eating beforehand. In general, the findings show that fat tissue responds first to any food consumed prior to exercise, and then to the exercise itself. The conclusion suggests that greater weight loss benefits would be obtained if exercising on an empty stomach. However, this should not be a catch-all conclusion. Much research shows that eating before actually helps exercise performance. All in all, one must consider their own health status along with their personal goals before deciding whether a fasted or fed state works best for them. In summary, ask a dietitian!
A simple, but favorite April recipe: Grilled asparagus (compliments of Serious Eats)
Why: Asparagus is in season, which means it’s usually of higher quality and cheaper than during off-season. Bonus: It’s the perfect time to light your grill!
What's in season: Asparagus, Beets, Green Onions, Mixed Leafy Greens, Parsley, Radishes, Strawberries
Q of the month: What is the best time to eat dinner?
A: It depends. There is no one steadfast rule that says eating dinner earlier to later directly affects your health (or weight). Instead, there are a myriad of factors to consider regarding meal times. For example, you might need to eat at least two hours before you go to bed to avoid heartburn. You could be a person who wakes up at 5am and has breakfast at 6am so you have your dinner at 5pm. You may have a metabolism that runs more efficiently with longer periods of post-dinner fasting. Basically, each person is different and will need to run a series of small experiments to determine the optimal times to eat. One general rule we can all apply, however, is the prevention of mindless eating. Oftentimes, late night snacking is less about hunger and more about boredom, procrastination or tiredness.
Diet 411: Ketogenic diet
Ketogenic diets have been developed and leveraged to treat epilepsy in children…that’s right – epilepsy. Following a diet that calls for 3 to 4g of fat for every 1g of carbohydrate and protein can produce ketones that supply energy to your brain in the absence of enough carbohydrates. If an adult begins this diet, they may experience digestive distress, urges to binge on carbs, fatigue and poor exercise performance. Longer-term side effects can include kidney stones, high cholesterol, dehydration and constipation. Overall, ketogenic diets should be prescribed by a physician, and closely monitored by a team of healthcare providers that includes a dietitian.
Cheyenne is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in the Charleston, SC area.