Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

Now that are bellies have been filled with Thanksgiving favorites (and leftovers) and our trunks are full of Black Friday and Cyber Monday gifts, it’s time to think of those less fortunate. Giving Tuesday (AKA Give Back Tuesday) began in 2012. It was started as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. I find it ironic that it’s dubbed “post Thanksgiving” since many shopping deals begin ON Thanksgiving. I prefer to celebrate the holiday with family and not shopping, but I digress.

There are many ways of giving back today. Some people may choose to donate to a charity that means something to them like the Alzheimer’s Association and Diabetes Association. If you can’t afford to donate to charities, there are multiple ways to support those in need. Here are just a few:

  1. Go through your closets and donate coats you no longer wear to Salvation Army, Goodwill or St. Vincent De Paul. You can find locations easily here:
  2. Find a drop box location for used clothing.
  3. Donate peanut butter, canned goods or toiletries to a local food pantry of the Free Store Food Bank.
  4. Give away extra produce that you aren’t going to eat or will spoil to 
  5. Find a mini People’s Pantry Cincy Pantry and fill it with feminine products that others can’t afford.

Whatever you decide to give back, donate with dignity. Just because someone cannot afford what you have does not mean they should receive items that are lesser than. A coat, dress or shoes with holes in them is not a desirable item to anyone. Expired or opened food is not safe to give away. Think of what you’d like to be provided if you were in need. Keep it simple. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Gobbler’s Tips

Gobbler’s Tips

Get ready for turkey, stuffing and pie! People traditionally see this as a time for family, friends and food, which is exactly what it’s for. If you’re worried about the big splurge, don’t be. In the grand scheme of things, it is one day. AND, you don’t have to stuff yourself just because seconds of pecan pie are offered. Here are a few tips for a more comfortable holiday:

  1. Do eat throughout the day before dinner. If you show up ravenous, you’re more likely to a. get drunk too fast on mulled cider or wine or b. overeat. Eat lighter fare before you show up such as veggies and hummus, fruit and yogurt or a bowl of steel cut oats w/chopped nuts.
  2. Drink plenty of water. Our urge to drink declines in colder months, so we’re more likely to be dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, crankiness and overeating. Aim for 16 oz. of water (about the size of a plastic bottle) with each meal and more if you’re exercising.
  3. Move it. Don’t view exercise as punishment or “work” in order to pig out. See it as taking time for yourself, improving your fitness, lifting your mood, building strength. Start a holiday tradition of a family walk or hike. Do some yoga. Exercise is not just for “burning calories”, though this certainly won’t hurt during the holidays.
  4. Be a food snob. I know exactly what store bought pumpkin pie tastes like, so I skip it. You can have nuts or cheese cubes as appetizers at any party you attend any other time of the year. Splurge on the foods you’ll really enjoy and pass on the rest.
  5. Don’t waste food. Turkey, ham and dessert freeze well. Cranberry jello mold? Not so much, but you can mix it into Greek yogurt for breakfast! Turn mashed potatoes into potato soup. Make sweet potato bread from leftover casserole.
  6. Give back. If you’ve got too many cans or boxes of things you won’t use, donate them to a local food pantry or People’s Pantry Cincy. Toiletries from your travel hotels also welcome! Locations can be found at 
Less means more!

Less means more!

Several studies have shown that being overweight or obese is linked with risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Even a 5-10% reduction in weight can prevent the development and aid in the control of hypertension and diabetes as well as lowering blood cholesterol. 1 Beyond trimming your weight and waistline, there’s an even more important benefit to reducing calorie intake.  New research out of Duke University in Durham suggests that biological aging can be stalled with calorie restriction.  Biological aging, according to the study author Daniel Belsky, is “the gradual and progressive deterioration of systems in the body that occurs with advancing chronological age”.  Belsky believes if biological aging can be slowed, it may help to prevent or delay chronic age-related illnesses and disabilities.2

The scientists at Duke University in Durham evaluated a total of 220 subjects over 2 years-145 who reduced calorie intake by 12% compared with 75 controls who did not limit calorie intake. The average biological age of both groups was close to 38 years.  Readings that included total cholesterol, blood pressure and hemoglobin levels were used to calculate biological age.2

In the calorie-restricted group, biological age increased by an average of .11 years each year compared to .71 years in the control group, over a two year follow up. This was statistically significant according to the researchers.  Previous studies have shown that calorie restriction slows aging in worms, flies and mice.  This was the first human study to test if calorie restriction can reduce measured biological aging in a randomized control study.  The authors believe this study can serve as a model for developing and testing treatment designed to copy the effects of calorie restriction to delay or prevent debilitating diseases.2

In 2014, the Obesity Society put out an official statement to raise awareness of the availability and consumption of energy-dense food contributing to weight gain and obesity.  Foods high in energy include high sugar foods like soda, ice cream and high calorie desserts as well as fried foods, large servings of meat and full fat cheese.  A diet containing foods rich in nutrients such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources and low-fat dairy products can help support weight management efforts.  The Obesity Society urges companies to test and market products that are lower in calories that will help consumers with weight management. The position paper can be found at: 3


1.    Klein, Samuel. Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic Function and Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with ObesityCell Metabolism, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.02.005

2.    Belsky, Dan W., Huffman, Kim, Pieper, Carl, Shalev, Idan, Kraus, William. Change in the Rate of Biological Aging in Response to Caloric Restriction: CALERIE Biobank Analysis.  J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci glx096. Published:22 May 2017

3.     Shu Wen Ng, Barry M. Popkin. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation PledgeAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2014; 47 (4): 520 DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.05.030

Anti-inflammatory diet explained

Anti-inflammatory diet explained

When most people hear the word “inflammation”, they likely think of pain, redness and swelling with conditions such as arthritis or infection that you can readily observe in the person that is suffering. However, chronic inflammation on the inside of tissues may be invisible, but may be deadly as it’s linked with heart disease, dementia, diabetes and cancer. 1

In a recent study of over 68,200 men and women aged 45 to 83 years that were monitored for 16 years, subjects that ate an anti-inflammatory diet had an 18% lower risk of dying from any cause (including cardiovascular disease and cancer) compared to subjects who did not follow the diet as closely. Participants who smoked but ate an anti-inflammatory diet still reaped some of the benefits in comparison to smokers that did not follow the diet. 2

An anti-inflammatory diet is similar to a Mediterranean diet, which is plant-based and includes foods that help to prevent or reduce cellular inflammation. Fruit, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals as well as healthy fats like canola oil and nuts are considered anti-inflammatory. Moderate consumption of low-fat cheese, beer and wine are also considered part of an anti-inflammatory diet as well. Processed and unprocessed red meat, organ meat, chips and soda are considered pro-inflammatory. These foods should be limited in our diets as much as possible. 1,2

The main author of the study, associate professor Dr. Joanna Kaluza at Poland’s Warsaw University of Life Sciences notes, “Our dose-response analysis showed that even partial adherence to the anti-inflammatory diet may provide a health benefit,”. 2

Here are simple tips to help follow an anti-inflammatory diet:

  1. Switch from soda to decaffeinated tea or water
  2. Snack on almonds or other nuts in place of chips, candy or cookies
  3. Swap white breads and cereals with 100% whole grain bread, steel cut oats, shredded wheat and other high fiber grains like farro, quinoa or bulgur
  4. Include fruits and vegetables at meals. Choose a variety of seasonal, colorful produce daily like kale, broccoli, berries, apples, melon and spinach.
  5. Add a few servings of fish, beans or lentils in place of red meat or fried meats
  6. Switch from full fat to low-fat dairy products
  7. Drink beer or wine in moderation- 1 drink/day for women, 2 drinks/day for men or less
  8. Use liquid oil such as corn, canola or olive oil in place of butter, lard or shortening


  2. Kaluza, N. Håkansson, H. R. Harris, N. Orsini, K. Michaëlsson, A. Wolk. Influence of anti-inflammatory diet and smoking on mortality and survival in men and women: two prospective cohort studiesJournal of Internal Medicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/joim.12823
It’s almost fall!

It’s almost fall!

I don’t know what it is about fall. It could be the drop in temperature, the beautiful leaves changing or the fact that I love Halloween, but I’m never disappointed to see summer go and fall roll in. I’m also a fan of fall produce.

Despite the availability of produce we have throughout the year, I’ve always been a seasonal eater. Strawberries in January? No thank you. Apples in autumn? Yes please! Eating seasonally throughout the year is not only tastier, but also great for your health and budget. Seasonal produce provides more nutrients since it’s picked fresh at it’s peak of ripeness. It’s also less expensive since there’s a bigger abundance of crops that won’t have to be shipped from foreign places to make it to your plate. Here’s what’s in season (in Ohio)


  1. Apples. from Braeburn to Honey Crisp, you’ll never get tired of apples this season. If you’re looking for apples with a crisp texture, go for Gala, Fuji, Pink lady or honey crisp. Want something tart? Granny Smith or  Macintosh fits the bill. Both are great for pies, but can also be added to salads, oatmeal or made into fresh applesauce with a little cinnamon and honey.
  2. Brussels sprouts. Cabbage’s stinky cousin should not be discounted. Brussels sprouts are quite tasty when roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper or shaved and added to a fresh salad. If you’re feeling naughty, toss them with some chopped bacon for a real treat.
  3. Pears. have you ever tried a Comice pear? It’s a short, squatty fruit with a floral smell that’s in season from September through December. Also known as Christmas pears. They’re sweet, juicy and delicious. Try them if you see them in your favorite market.
  4. Squash. it’s not just zucchini anymore! There are plenty of varieties of squash to choose from. Spaghetti squash and “zoodles” are popular for those limiting carbs in their diet, or acorn or delicata squash can be sliced and roasted for an interesting side dish. Squash is an excellent source of beta-carotene as well as potassium.
  5. Spinach and other greens. If your memory of spinach is the slimy stuff Popeye used to eat, erase it right now. Spinach is super versatile and can be sauteed and added to an omelet or used fresh in a salad. I like to chop it and add it to grain salads or in pasta with other veggies. If you’re not a kale fan, try massaging it before using it. This wilts the green to soften the course texture and sweetens it a bit. It’s excellent in a salad with other greens, dried cherries and a small dose of blue cheese crumbles. You’re welcome.
Let’s get spicy!

Let’s get spicy!

Is your pantry loaded with random herbs and spices that you’ve never tried? Perhaps you just need to pair them with food to make the magic happen. If possible, store herbs in a cool, dry place (meaning, not above your stove). Most dried herbs lose their potency in about 6 months, so buy in small quantities if possible.

When using dried herbs, you’ll want to add them at the beginning of a dish to enhance the flavor. For example, add oregano or basil when sauteing garlic and onions when making soup. Fresh herbs such as cilantro or basil are best used at the end of cooking as a garnish. If you cook them into your soup or pasta, you’ll lose their delightful flavor. For things like salad or salsa, add herbs into the dish like any other ingredient.

Below is an alphabetic list of spices to try in your next chicken, fish or other dish. Variety is the spice of life!

Allspice: Use in meats, fish, poultry, soups, stews, and desserts.

Anise: Use in breads, snacks, soups, stews, vegetables, meats, and poultry.

Annatto Seeds: Use in vegetables, meats, poultry, and rice.

Bay Leaf: Use in soups, stews, meats, poultry, seafood, and sauces.

Basil: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, fish, and meats. Use fresh basil in pasta, salads or pizza.

Cayenne Pepper: Use in meats, poultry, stews, and sauces.

Celery Seed: Use in fish, salads, dressings, and vegetables.

Chili Powder / Chile Pequeño: Use in meats, poultry, vegetable, fish and stews.

Cilantro: Use in meats, sauces, stews, and rice. Use fresh cilantro in salsa and salads.

Cinnamon: Use in grains, potatoes, breads, and snacks. Great on apples, pears or in oatmeal.

Clove: Use in soups, salads, and vegetables.

Cumin: Use in meats, poultry or potatoes. Also great in soup or Mexican food.

Curry Powder: Use in meats, shellfish, and vegetables.

Dill Weed and Dill Seed: Use in fish, soups, salads, and vegetables.

Garlic: Use in soups, stews, salads, vegetables, meats, pasta, poultry, seafood, and sauces.

Garlic Powder: Use in meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, salads, soups, and stews.

Ginger: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, and meats. Also great in oatmeal or on potatoes.

Lemongrass: Use in soups, stews, meats, poultry, seafood, and sauces.

·Marjoram: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, beef, fish, and poultry.

Nutmeg: Use in vegetables and meats. Also great in baked goods or pasta.

Onion Powder/Green Onion: Use in meats, poultry, seafood, soups, and salads.

Oregano: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, meats, and poultry. Great as a pizza topper.

Paprika: Use in meats, fish, poultry, soup, stew and vegetables.

Parsley: Use in salads, vegetables, fish, and meats.

Rosemary: Use in salads, vegetables, potatoes, rice, fish, and meats.

Saffron: Use in breads, snacks, soups, stews, poultry, seafood, sauces, and rice.

Sage: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, meats, stuffing and poultry.

Tamarind: Use in soups, poultry, sauces, stir fries and rice.

Thyme: Use in salads, pasta, vegetables, fish, and poultry.

Vinegar: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, meats, and poultry.

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