Need one more reason to enjoy a cup of joe every day? Sip on this! Researchers from the University of Nottingham have found that “brown fat”, our body’s fat-fighting defense may be stimulated by drinking a cup of coffee. Brown fat may be key to fighting obesity and diabetes. 1
The study published in the journal Scientific Reports, is one of the newest to be done on humans to find ways that could have a direct impact on how brown fat functions, a vital part of our bodies that plays an important role in how fast we burn calories into energy. 1
Brown fat, technically brown adipose tissue (BAT), is one of the two types of fat found in humans and other mammals. It was first only associated with babies and hibernating mammals, but was discovered in recent years that adults possess brown fat, too. The main function of brown fat is to create body heat by burning calories compared to white fat, which stores excess calories. Those with a lower BMI (body mass index) tend to have higher amounts of brown fat. 1
According to Professor Michael Symonds from the University of Nottingham who co-directed the research, brown fat interacts differently than other fat in our bodies and makes heat by burning fat and sugar, often as a response to cold. Blood sugar control and improved lipid levels are observed through its activity. Additional calories burned aid with weight reduction. Until now, no one has discovered an acceptable method to stimulate BAT activity in humans. 1
Symond’s study is the first in humans to find that a simple cup of coffee can have a direct impact on how brown fat functions. As obesity is a major health concern in society and diabetes is a growing epidemic, brown fat could be a potential ally in fighting both. 1
The study initiated in a series of stem cells to evaluate if caffeine would stimulate brown fat. Once the correct dose was found, they continued on to human subjects to see if the results were the same. 1
A thermal imaging technique was used by the team to follow the body’s reserves of brown fat. The technique is non-invasive and helps the team find brown fat and evaluate its ability to produce heat. 1
Based on previous research, Symonds notes that brown fat is primarily located in the neck region, so they were able to image a person right after drinking coffee to check if brown fat got hotter. Given the positive results, the team now needs to evaluate if caffeine or another active ingredient in coffee is impacting the activation of brown fat. Caffeine supplements are being tested to see if the effect is the same. 1
Once they have pinpointed the responsible component, it could likely be utilized as part of a weight management or blood sugar control program to help reduce the risk of diabetes. 1
Some takeaway messages for dietitians: coffee is not a magic bullet. While the study is promising, calorie control and regular exercise still remain the gold standards for weight management and diabetes prevention. While black coffee is calorie-free, coffee with cream, sugar or other add-ins (syrup, whipped cream, chocolate shavings, liquor), may contain quite a few calories and could pack on pounds. Coffee with skim milk or plant-based milks will provide calcium in addition to caffeine. Remember that caffeine is a drug and it affects people differently. When abused, it may increase anxiety, heart rate, nervousness and risk for insomnia. According to the FDA, four to five cups of coffee per day (roughly 400 mg caffeine per day) is deemed safe for most. 2
If you’re looking for that adorable mug, you can pick one up here: https://soundbitesnutrition.com/product/deja-brew-11-oz-mug/
- Ksenija Velickovic, Declan Wayne, Hilda Anaid Lugo Leija, Ian Bloor, David E. Morris, James Law, Helen Budge, Harold Sacks, Michael E. Symonds, Virginie Sottile. Caffeine exposure induces browning features in adipose tissue in vitro and in vivo. Scientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 1038/s41598-019-45540-1
Contrary to the name of this side dish, there’s really just 2 ingredients. My daughter recently asked me to purchase “everything bagel spice” so she could make an appetizer she saw on Pinterest. I’m always trying to encourage her to try new food, so of course I obliged. Not to mention, it used a bell pepper, so even better.
If you’re a tater hater, don’t be. Potatoes may be high in carbohydrates, but so is a chocolate chip cookie, yet people justify eating that while forgoing unprocessed, real food. A medium baked potato has about 100 calories and a decent amount of vitamin C. It’s a ridiculously versatile food and can be topped with veggies (like broccoli or spinach), salsa, chili or some simple shredded cheese.
This recipe uses russet potatoes, but red or Golden Yukon potatoes could be used, too. I used non-stick spray to coat the fries before baking, but a brush of canola, corn or olive oil works, too. If you’re in need of a simple side for your burger, sandwich or other meal, give this a try! The fries are a wee spicy from the black pepper with a hint of garlic. The spice could be used in rice dishes, too.
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into French fry strips
Everything bagel spice
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the cut potatoes on the baking sheet and spread them out. Spray the fries again with non-stick spray.
- Sprinkle the fries with everything bagel spice then bake for 10 minutes. Toss the fries and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until they’re golden brown
Makes 6-8 servings.
Despite disliking fresh tomatoes as a kid, I seek them out now. I’ve mentioned before that my gardening skills leave much to be desired, but I’m excited to share that a few tomatoes in this recipe were mine! Deer be damned.
I love finding road side markets, farmer’s markets or small grocery stores that carry local produce. The ones in this picture came from my back deck and a small farmer’s market in Paris Ky. My family and I needed a COVID break and took a few days off in the “country” of Paris. There was not much to do there, but we managed to have a great time.
You’ll love the savory taste and simplicity of this recipe, which is why I included it in my gout cookbook. It can be used for salads or as a marinated for fish, chicken or pork. I used a few varieties of tomatoes, but any ripe ones you have on hand are perfect.
Cookbook available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0857KD9Y3/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
4 medium heirloom or other tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Juice of 1 lime or 1/4 cup bottle lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Clean, peel and cut tomatoes and place in a medium bowl.
- Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper.
- Dress the tomatoes with lime dressing and toss before serving.
Makes 4 servings
Sometimes the best meals I’ve eaten were the ones that weren’t planned at all. I’m known to cook too much in my house. I think it’s a trait I inherited from my mother who had to cook for 7 people. Even after my older siblings became adults and were long gone from the house, my mom cooked as if she had an army to feed.
The beauty of leftovers is having something already cooked that can be “repurposed” into another meal. An easy one is chicken. With the weather being iffy in Cincinnati and pop up showers being the norm lately, grilling time might be limited (unless you don’t mind grilling during a thunderstorm).
When we grill chicken, we grill A LOT. That way, I have chicken ready to go for a few meals. If you’re not into grilling (or cooking at all for that matter), a rotissorie chicken is a great option. These are pre-seasoned and reasonably priced. They can be eaten “as is” and paired with potatoes, rice or noodles or shredded up and used in salads or tacos. The sky’s the limit here!
This past week I used grilled chicken that was seasoned with steak seasoning (why not?) that was sliced and added to leftover egg noodles. I added some steamed broccoli and a dash of Parmesan cheese and boom- dinner, DONE!
If you have extra food and don’t think you’ll eat it right away, freeze it! It’s worth investing in some glass Pyrex or other glass containers to freeze leftovers. I have frozen rice, pasta, farro, quinoa, soup, chili, you name it. On days when we’re out of ‘thyme’, I can grab something out of the freezer and repurpose it into a different meal.
Here are 5 quick meal ideas:
- Chicken tacos. Keep whole wheat or corn tortillas and salsa on hand. I also love shredded cheese on tacos.
- Chicken pot pie. Buy a pre-made pie crust (or make your own) and keep mixed vegetables in your freezer. Make a simple ‘gravy’ with broth, butter and flour to create the filling.
- BBQ chicken sandwiches. Shred up chicken and combine it with your favorite BBQ sauce. Serve over whole wheat buns with cole slaw.
- Indian one pot. Buy a jar of Indian simmer sauce and add chopped chicken, a can of kidney or garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes and frozen green beans. Serve over rice or couscous.
- Chicken vegetable soup. Combine leftover chicken cut into cubes with 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth and a bag of frozen miraproix (chopped onions, celery and carrots). Simmer ingredients for 20 minutes, then add 1 cup uncooked rice or noodles and simmer another 8 to 10 minutes until starch is cooked.
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I am embarrassed to admit it. I’ve never made a homemade pie with the exception of pizza. But, that’s not dessert. Pie is one of those desserts that seems daunting. You have to get the crust just right to fit into the fluted pan and if you mix the dough too much, it’s tough and not flaky. What if the filling flows over the pan and you’re left with a gooey mess in your oven? I have pie anxiety.
I kept seeing beautiful pictures of galettes on Instagram and Pinterest during the pandemic and thought, “how hard can it be”? It turns out, it’s really not that hard.
My husband is the pie guy in the family. A scientist by trade, he likes to measure every ingredient down to the tiniest tincture before he puts anything in the oven. He’s turned out everything from apple to pumpkin mince pie over the years with ease, while I just watched in awe and eat.
I tend to “wing” most of my meals. A pinch of oregano here, a dollop of mustard there. This is the way my mother cooked- no recipes required. But, being in a food field where people want to know calorie, carb and fat counts, I’ve learned the art of recipe writing and following. And obviously, to write a cookbook, you have to write the recipes! https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Gout-Cookbook-Anti-Inflammatory-Recipes/dp/1646114469
The beauty of the galette is that it’s a little of both. While the ingredients for the crust should be fairly exact, the execution of the dough is not. As you’ll see- it’s perfectly imperfect. Now that’s my kind of pie!
You can use just about anything in a galette, but since it’s summer and peach season, I had to make peach. I bought the peaches at https://www.countryfreshfarmmarket.com/ where you can find just about any fruit, herb, delightful cheese, beer or wine. Their produce is amazing and it’s important to me to support a local store. Below is the recipe for this delightful summer treat. I found the recipe for the dough (AKA Pate Brisee) in the Martha Stewart Pies & Tarts cookbook https://www.marthastewart.com/1502266/pie-recipes
The recipe below will make 1 galette.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white sugar
1 stick cold butter, cut into small chunks
1/4-1/2 cups water
3 ripe peaches, cleaned and sliced
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter using a pastry cutter (or fork) until the mixture is a course meal with pieces of butter remaining.
- Add water slowly over the mixture and continue to blend until it begins to hold together. If the dough is too dry, add a tsp. or so of water until a soft ball forms.
- Wrap the ball of dough loosely in plastic wrap and press into a disc shape.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour before using.
- Place the peaches, cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl and toss.
- Once ready to make the galette, turn your oven to 400 degrees.
- Roll the dough out on a floured surface into the shape of a rough circle. It will be roughly 8-9 inches.
- Place the dough onto a baking sheet or greased baking pan prior to adding the fruit.
- Evenly distribute the prepped peaches onto the dough, then fold over the edges about an inch in.
- Bake the galette for 25-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the peaches are bubbly.
Makes 6 slices.
I won’t lie. Becoming a dietitian is not an easy path. It starts with a passion for food, health and people. You need to learn and understand anatomy, physiology and chemistry. In order to receive appropriate training, you have to apply for and be accepted into a competitive dietetic internship or practice program, which is typically unpaid. Then you have to sit for a national exam to become registered, and maintain 75 hours of continued education every 5 years. There are multiple hoops to jump through. It is expensive, time-consuming and difficult.
Because of this competitive start, dietitians are often competitive with each other. You’re vying for the same job (like you would with other professions) or you’re trying to make a name for yourself. Your goal is to obtain more clients, work with brands, make a better wage, etc.
After being in the field for nearly 30 years and a small business owner for over 12, I’ve realized that collaborating with other dietitians is much more meaningful and fun than competing. Every dietitian has a little different spin on how they cook, teach, present, write, etc. We all have unique talents and honestly, can’t do everything. Just like there are specialties in medicine or nursing, the same applies for nutrition. There is no “one size fits all” approach and we each do things in our own unique ways.
For example,if I receive a call to work with a child with food allergies, I try to find a dietitian that works in this area. Or if I am asked to present on a topic that I have zero experience or interest in, I’ll likely forward it to a more knowledgeable colleague. The same holds true for how other dietitians treat me. We network with each other and refer clients when things are out of our lane. It’s part of being ethical and acting with integrity. It’s OK to say no to work that doesn’t fit, and you should.
This week, I am collaborating with another dietitian whom I’ve admired for years. She is a great writer and well known in the nutrition community. Her passion and practice is “plant-powered” nutrition and she is known for her plant prowess.
Rather than seeing her as my adversary, I see her as an ally. We met a few years ago at a nutrition conference in Texas and have connected online through social media over the years. She has written a few cookbooks and agreed to do a giveaway with me this week. I am happy to collaborate with her in this way.
So if you’re on Instagram, follow the two of us for a chance to win her Plant-powered for life book, market tote and my Don’t despear food pun tee. You’ve got nothing to lose by entering and you’ll likely pick up some great plant powered nutrition tips to boot! Here’s the book: https://www.amazon.com/Plant-Powered-Life-Recipes-Achieve-Goals_Starting/dp/1615191879