It’s picnic season, which means backyard BBQs, cocktail parties and lots of appetizers and dips. But what exactly are you serving? It may be called veggie dip, but is it really veggie-based? Below are some popular dips and a few tips to clean them up.
Spinach dip (made with mayonnaise, sour cream and Knorr’s vegetable soup mix). The spinach is a powerhouse, but sadly, it is drowning in fat and sodium from mayonnaise, sour cream and salty soup mix. You can lighten it up easily by subbing plain Greek, non-fat yogurt for sour cream and light mayonnaise for regular. Use just half a packet of Knorr’s soup mix to reduce the sodium content.
Artichoke dip– Artichokes provide awesome pre-biotics in your diet, which help feed healthy pro-biotic bacteria in the gut. Unfortunately, the dip is typically laden with cream cheese, mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Would you even realize a vegetable was in there? Lighten it up with Greek yogurt cream cheese (found at Kroger), light mayonnaise and 1/3 less cheese in the recipe. I doubt you’d notice a taste change.
Zucchini bread– most quick breads are fairly high in sugar and calories. Just because a vegetable has been shredded into the batter, does not make it health food. The same goes for carrot cake, which is one of the richest desserts on the planet!
Broccoli, Ramen Noodle Slaw– while this looks like it should be healthy, it really is not. Broccoli slaw is very nutritious and a good source of vitamin C and fiber. But when paired with Ramen noodles, butter, slivered almonds, canola oil and sugar, it should not be featured as health food. Ramen noodles are high in sodium and saturated fat (even without the seasoning packet). When you add the seasoning, the sodium content goes through the roof.
If you really want to keep things simple (and healthy), purchase some ready-made, yogurt based dips from Sabra or other brands. You won’t even miss that blob of mayonnaise.
Just about everyone I know has been touched by cancer. Whether it was a parent, a cousin, a neighbor, a co-worker, a child or themselves, it seems to single no one out. News of cancer hit my family this week and it got me thinking. Why? While many are cancers can be hereditary, (breast, ovarian, colon), several, if not all, have some lifestyle component, which means prevention. Below are some tips to beat the big C.
1. Maintain a healthy weight. This doesn’t mean you have to reduce down to your unrealistic high school fighting weight, but being overweight or obese does increase risk for cancer, especially breast, prostate and colon. Lose weight gradually- give up soda and evening snacks, drink more water, reduce big portions. Get up and move. Every pound makes a difference.
2. Eat more fruits & vegetables. If it’s one thing we can all use more of, it’s plants. Dark, green leafy vegetables are full of cancer-fighting phytochemicals and anti-oxidants, and they’re so easy to incorporate into your meals. Add a pile of spinach to your eggs, add broccoli, tomatoes and peppers in your salad. Throw some kale in your smoothie. Just eat more daily.
3. Less alcohol, more green tea. It’s funny how most of us would find it shameful to drink 3 (12 oz.) sodas in one night, but have no issues with drinking 3-6 beers at a time. While I’m not advocating soda intake by any means, it is clear that our society encourages and celebrates alcohol without considering the consequences. Did you know that just one drink a day for women has been found to boost breast cancer risk by 11%? Excessive alcohol intake has been implicated in stomach, pancreas and other gastrointestinal cancers. Green tea on the other hand, has been linked with reduction in several types of cancers including lung, brain and breast. Aim for 3 or more cups of green tea per day. It may also aid in weight management- another boon!
4. Exercise. If there’s one thing that will keep you alive and kicking longer in this world, it’s movement. Regular physical activity helps manage weight, which aids in cancer reduction. Regular exercise has been found to reduce risk for colon cancer as well as breast cancer recurrence in women. Walk, ride a bike, swim or enjoy some other activity at least 30 minutes a day.
5. Eat less animal foods– especially red meat and full fat dairy. Do you really need another study linking bacon and beef with cancer? You don’t have to go vegan, but reducing processed, cured meat and red meat certainly won’t hurt. While you’re at it, go easy on full fat milk, cheese, butter and ice cream. Saturated fat not only ups your cancer risk, but is not so great for your arteries or brain in the long run, either. Just remember, #moreplantslesscow.
A Taste of Honey
I’m a little late with this, but in honor of Earth Day, I want to celebrate the humble honey bee! My web designer extraordinaire, Julie Bolton, also happens to be a bee keeper and owner of beedorable.com and blog julie-bolton.com. Below is “everything you wanted to know about local honey” and then some!
How did you get into the honey bee business?
When I was growing up I was terrified of bees and bugs in general, so it’s ironic that I ended up becoming a beekeeper! But as an adult, I became interested in gardening and learned about beneficial pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The more I learned about honeybees, the more I was captivated by beekeeping. When I moved out to the country I realized my opportunity to start as a hobbyist and sought out a Beekeeping for Beginners class through the Greene County Beekeeper’s Association. Once I began beekeeping I was hooked (and a little bit scared at first to be honest!)! I find the honeybee one of the most fascinating creatures, and love observing and learning more about them.
What is the difference between local honey and honey bought at the grocery store?
Local honey will have particles of pollen, propolis* and trace minerals from the area in which you live. (*Propolis is a sticky resinous mixture that bees gather from tree sap- may also have beneficial anti-oxidants and flavonoids). If eaten regularly, this pollen can help you build up an immunity to seasonal allergies. Also, local honey is more pure as opposed to store bought honey which is often a mixture of honeys bought in bulk from many different sources, so you don’t really know where it’s coming from. Some countries use illegal antibiotics that are banned in the US and EU, and some honey isn’t honey at all but a mixture of artificial sweeteners, chemicals, artificial flavors, and contain traces of heavy metals and banned substances, such as chloramphenicol.
“The current labeling for the approved chloramphenicol products bears a specific warning statement that the drug is not to be used in animals raised for food production. “ http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm074681.htm
Although honey from China has been banned in several countries including the US, the import of Chinese honey continues. China is the largest producer of honey despite the fact that bees are now non-existent in many areas of China and their fruit and other plants are being hand-pollinated by humans. So where is all that honey coming from?
Buying local from a reputable beekeeper is the only way to know that what you’re getting is actually pure honey. You are also helping out a small, local business and supporting local agriculture when buying honey at a farm market. It’s also really fun to try different honey from different areas and taste the variety in real honey.
The Honey Trail: In Pursuit of Liquid Gold and Vanishing Bees is a fascinating book about the plight of the honeybee and how honey is a widely un-regulated food.
What are the nutrition & health benefits of local honey?
*Let me start by saying that I have read some articles that make outrageous claims about honey, including that it can prevent AND cure cancer! So bee smart and don’t believe all the claims that honey will cure every known disease. However, there have been some fascinating studies on honey that have proven some minor health benefits, such as the 2010 study by the NIH that proved a dose of honey was actually more effective in treating cough in children than dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine. *SOURCE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20618098
Biggest benefit: Reduction in seasonal allergy symptoms- but you have to take honey DAILY over a long period of time to build up the immune system, just as you do allergy shots or medications.
Honey contains phytonutrients found mostly in raw honey (not processed honey). Phytonutrients provide anti-inflammatory and antiseptic benefits. Manuka Honey from New Zealand is the powerhouse of healing honeys. Manuka is the local name for the tea tree, and as you may know, tea tree oil is very beneficial as a natural antiseptic. I suffered from leaky gut in 2011 and was so ill I could barely eat anything without an allergic type of reaction. Part of my treatment regimen included Manuka honey, a daily teaspoon to aid in the healing of my ulcerative condition. It is very expensive, about $40-50 for a small jar! But it was worth it to me to relieve my upset tummy and start me on the path to natural healing.
There are some risks to honey that everyone should be aware of: Raw honey is particularly dangerous for babies, so you should never feed raw honey to babies less than a year old. They cannot process some of the bacterias in honey that pass through an adult unnoticed or that may be beneficial to us.
What are some tips for buying honey?
Most honey you buy in the store is over-processed, heated and clarified. Avoid this honey because most of the nutrients have been stripped away, it contains no pollen, and it’s just a bunch of sugar, so you’re not even getting the natural benefits of local honey! Or worse yet, it is not even that– it may be as I mentioned before, a type of flavored, colored corn syrup with harmful chemicals added.
Look for a local honey- I have seen some local honey for sale at Kroger in the Organic/Natural foods section, such as White Mountain Honey from Xenia OH. I have met these beekeepers and they’re wonderful! I partner with Honey Run Farm in Williamsport, OH for my honey and hive products. I met Jayne Barnes at a conference and she was delightful, and she writes a great blog! She and her husband (and four children) have 400 working hives on their farm just north of my place on the way to Columbus. They are hard-working and industrious, and I love knowing who is harvesting my honey! I also only buy “hive products” from local beeks because I know the products will be pure. Hive products are anything made from beeswax, such as lip balms, salves, lotions and candles.
Most labels will say “pure” honey, “raw” honey, or “natural” honey”, that’s what to look for. I don’t really believe there’s any “organic” honey- that would mean that the Beekeeper knows every single pollen and nectar source visited by the honeybee is organic, untreated, and non-fertilized….how many beekeepers can guarantee that? Not too many, I think!
Raw unfiltered honey is unprocessed, unfiltered, thicker and creamier. It contains a lot more of the “hive products”- pollen, bits of wax, propolis, sometimes even a bit of broken bee’s wing! It’s delicious spread on toast. Manuka honey is usually sold in a raw unfiltered state and is rich and fragrant.
How long should honey last?
Longer than most people’s first marriage, hahaha! Honey can last for a long time, but over time it can crystallize. You can render it fluid and pure again by placing the honey jar in a pan of hot, not boiling water. DO NOT put honey in the microwave! It gets heated too fast, damages the delicate floral compounds, and can create unseen pockets of super-heated honey- essentially a bubble that can burst open and burn or splatter everywhere. DO NOT REFRIGERATE HONEY!
Do you have a favorite recipe using honey
Sooooo many! When my daughter was little girl, we had a favorite cookbook, the ABC’s of cooking I think it was called, and there was a Honeybee cookie recipe that we loved to bake, so that’s nostalgic. Baking with honey is a bit tricky since it add moisture to the chemistry, so a little experimentation may be needed. I love Honey-soy sauces for fish and chicken, but again, you have to find a good balance so the honey doesn’t over-power the flavors, but enough that you capture the delicate nuances of honey. The only thing I have not developed a taste for is Mead, a type of honey wine. It is a very sweet drink, and I just don’t like sweet drinks very much. I am posting honey recipes every Saturday on my Blog, julie-bolton.com, so if you would like to contribute to that I would LOVE to have you!
I had the opportunity this morning to talk about nutrition during breast cancer treatment of Fox 19 today, but honestly, these tips can (and should) be used to keep your body healthy all the time. Thank you to Trader Joes in Kenwood for sponsoring my food for this segment. You are the best! http://www.fox19.com/clip/12373200/think-pink-immunity-boosting-foods?autostart=true
Maintaining a strong immune system is essential to preventing cancer and surviving treatment. Much of your immunity and lymph tissue resides in your gut tissue, so keeping a healthy gut is vital. Follow the tips below for best health!
1. Start your day with whole grains. Foods high in fiber help create heathy bacteria in your gut and maintain bowel regularity. Choose bran cereal, whole wheat toast or steel cut oatmeal. Enjoy whole wheat pasta, brown rice, farro, quinoa, barley and bulgur at other meals.
2. Include lean protein. Protein malnutrition can weaken your immune system. Enjoy eggs at breakfast, natural peanut butter on your toast or cottage cheese. Include lean protein throughout the day such as fish, hard boiled eggs, chicken, lean beef, nuts, seeds or soy products like tofu, edamame and soy nuts.
3. Add vitamin C rich vegetables to your plate. Vitamin C protects cells from damage and studies suggest obtaining vitamin C from food, not pills. Good sources include asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, greens, peppers, berries, citrus fruit and tomatoes. Include fruits and vegetables with lots of color.
4. Get a little nutty. Nuts may be high in fat, but are a great source of zinc and magnesium, nutrients that can become depleted during cancer treatment. Add them to oatmeal, yogurt, salads, trail mix or eat them solo.
5. Include beans and peas. These are good sources of protein, fiber, iron and folate, which keep your immune system strong. Add them to soups, salads, casseroles or dips.
6. Choose high iron foods. Anemia can be common during cancer treatment. Include lean meat, fish, eggs or poultry in your diet or iron-fortified foods such as cereal and grains such as quinoa and farro. Including a food high in vitamin C (like peppers and tomatoes) improves iron absorption in beans and grains.
7. Drink up. Dehydration may worsen nausea, fatigue and other side effects of cancer treatment. It can also drop your blood pressure too low. Drink at least 2 liters of PLAIN water daily (equivalent to 8 cups).
8. Include fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha tea, sauerkraut, miso and kimchi. These provide probiotics to feed your good gut bacteria, which fights illness and infection.
9. Choose organic meat and dairy. Organic milk, meat and eggs won’t contain antibiotics or additional hormones, which can hinder immunity. Organic produce will be lower in pesticides than traditional fruits and vegetables, but it’s more important to eat a more plant-based diet than to be concerned with organic.
10. Eat what sounds good to you. Nausea and anorexia (lack of appetite) can hinder intake and impact nutritional status during treatment. Choose nutrient-dense foods whenever possible, but if cake sounds good- eat it.
Many people want to know, “when should I eat- before or after I exercise?” My answer? It depends on your goal. If your goal is weight loss and your workout is under 60 minutes, studies show you’ll use more fat for fuel if you work out on an empty stomach. If you plan on doing heavy/aerobic exercise for over 60 minutes, it is best to eat something that is digested quickly and includes protein as well as carbohydrate to keep your muscles fueled. If you need to eat something to prevent low blood sugar or are really hungry in the morning, keep your snack small and within 150-200 calories if weight loss is your goal.
Easily digested carbohydrates are best prior to exercise to provide energy, without gastrointestinal distress such as gas and bloating. Avoid high fiber and high fat foods before working out (NO rice and beans or burgers/fries)! Below are a few examples of simple snacks to have before your workout:
Yogurt with a banana
Apple and peanut butter
Low fat cheese and saltines (avoid whole wheat crackers)
Animal crackers and yogurt
Turkey roll up on a tortilla
English muffin with peanut butter
Trail mix with nuts, Cheerios/Chex cereal and dried fruit
After your workout, it is best to eat something within 20-30 minutes of your workout to replace glycogen stores. Studies show including BOTH carbohydrate & protein improves glycogen stores in a ratio of 4 carb grams to 1 gram protein. Also- remember to consume at least 2-3 cups of water before, during and after a workout to stay hydrated. Below are some meal ideas after your workout:
Black beans and rice (or quinoa), fruit
Chicken & vegetables over brown rice or whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat spaghetti and meatballs, salad
Triscuit crackers, 1 light cheese stick and fruit
Salad with chicken or fish and a side of potatoes, crackers or bread
Tuna or turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread and fruit
High fiber cereal, milk or yogurt & fruit
Scrambled eggs, toast with jelly and fruit
One final thought- one of the best post-recovery foods is not a food at all. It’s chocolate milk! A convenient balance of simple carbs and protein helps refuel muscles.
For more information on carbohydrates and endurance, check out: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151215094542.htm
As a dietitian, I joke that “diet” is a “four-letter word”! I make my living teaching others to eat less, eat differently or sacrifice their favorite foods for the sake of their health or waistlines…and then go about resuming my moderate food and alcohol consumption in private. But this year, I found myself on the other side of the fence — as the patient.
I have had rheumatoid arthritis for over 20 years. With the exception of my pregnancy when I couldn’t take drugs to control the disease and pain, I’ve been pretty lucky. If you didn’t know me, you’d never pick up that I have a chronic, incurable autoimmune disease that raises my risk for heart disease, disability and side effects from years of medication.
I normally blame the weather when I have an RA flare. For those of you that don’t know what a flare is, it’s when your disease decides to angrily act up and make your life a living hell. My flares normally last a day or so. But this winter (particularly over the holidays), my RA was at its worst for weeks. Then it hit me: Didn’t I read something about leaky gut and autoimmune diseases? Could it be that something in my diet could be making this worse?
In general, I try to follow an anti-inflammatory eating plan of “more plants, less cow, plenty of healthy fats.” But had I ever tried a gluten-free diet for leaky gut? Nope. And yet, I should have…many times. I discovered years ago that I have a condition called “food-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis.” This is a type of allergy that occurs when an offending food triggers an anaphylactic reaction only when the person exercises within 2 to 4 hours after eating. In my case, this food is wheat. I know this because if I eat a bagel and go for a walk, I get hives. At my wedding nearly 15 years ago, I did the chicken dance with my German husband after a large Italian meal of pasta and bread and boom – I got hives. Over the years, I’d gotten tested for wheat allergy and even celiac disease, but both were negative. These results reinforced my opinion that I, a dietitian, need not follow a gluten-free diet.
Then this year’s holidays hit. Like many people, my diet gets unhealthier over the holidays: I had more bread, pasta and beer than usual when I would hang out with friends and family. After weeks of immobile hands and sore feet, I decided it was time to do something drastic. It was time to try gluten-free.
Like any other change, be it smoking cessation or, in my case, giving up gluten, I picked a stop date. I waited until the last New Year’s party was over so I wouldn’t be tempted by bruschetta, crackers and cookies. I started meal-planning for myself like I would for a client. I picked up gluten-free pasta, gluten-free crackers and tried a variety of gluten-free breads. I read labels and sought out friends who’d been gluten-free for support. To my surprise, it was easier than I thought. Years ago, during my internship, the RDs would freak if they had a celiac patient. One good thing about going gluten-free today is there is such a wide variety of products available now.
After about 10 days, I noticed a significant difference in how I felt. I realized I wasn’t using nearly as much medication as I had been over Christmas. My hands were no longer “hot mitts” in the morning. One other bonus was that I no longer needed to wait to exercise after eating my favorite breakfast of peanut butter toast.
While I realize gluten-free is not for everyone, (and I admit that I still eat pizza here and there), this experiment has taught me to be less snarky about food trends that seem like fads. It’s taught me to be more empathetic for those trying to make permanent changes for their health. And most of all, it’s given me confidence in my own ability to stick with a diet that affects my health and quality of life in such a dramatic way. Plus, now I’ve got plenty of gluten-free resources and recipes to share with clients!