Tag Archives: health

White Hot Veggies

15 Oct

We certainly all know how important vegetables are in the diet (our parents have only been drilling it into our heads since we were kids). I’m no exception, I push them for my kids and clients as well. Vegetables, all kinds and colors, are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.  (Just as a refresher, phytochemicals have protective or disease preventative properties and  antioxidants fight the pesky free radicals floating around in our bodies that contribute to numerous ailments and diseases).

Though colors like  green, red, and orange are often highlighted, the white vegetables have become the step-child. Studies show that we may be missing out.  Increasing the intake of white vegetables helps increase the intake of key nutrients (often lacking) in the diet like potassium, magnesium, and fiber….and it doesn’t stop there. Studies are finding that the white’s may help reduce the “bad” cholesterol promoting heart health and cancer protection.

Below are some of the more popular white vegetables I give the thumbs up to:

Cauliflower packs a punch with fiber, vitamins C & K, and glucosinates. May help boost immune system and lower inflammation levels protecting against cancer. I roast cauliflower at home and shave parmesan cheese just before serving. Big hit!

White Mushrooms may have multiple medicinal qualities by aiding in autoimmune disorders and improving immune defense. Their star nutrients are riboflavin, niacin, copper, vitamin D, and selenium. I make a mushroom soup with sautéed onions and shallots with vegetable stock. You would be surprised at how rich and creamy it is…without any of the cream!

White Potatoes have a bad reputation thanks to all the low carb diets. But in fact, they aid in cancer prevention and autoimmune  protection thanks to fiber (in the skin), riboflavin, niacin, selenium (an antioxidant), and vitamin D. Instead of forgoing potatoes, why not try eating one smaller than the size of a football.

Turnips, the less popular vegetable, have vitamin C (an antioxidant), fiber, and glucosinates. You can bake, steam, sauté, or mash them.

White Corn is my personal favorite. I love to grill it — brings out the sweet and smokey flavors. Aside from how great they taste, they contain a powerhouse combination of thiamine, folate, and vitamin B6. Corn may protect against heart disease and exhibits anti- inflammatory properties.

So, as a big Miami Heat fan (during basketball playoffs for the non-sports enthusiasts), go WHITE HOT…with your vegetables!

Java Buzz

9 Mar

pantherHow about some morning coffee talk?  Scores of studies have investigated the health benefits of coffee and while none truly promote picking up the java habit (if you haven’t already), some certainly give java drinkers a reason to perk up. I’m a coffee

drinker- just one cup in the morning but it’s non-negotiable. Since it’s something I do religiously, I thought

I’d do a little research and blog about it.

One promising area of research is focused on coffee’s effect on type two-diabetes. Coffee seems to slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the intestines slowing the progression and maybe even preventing the onset of diabetes.

The relationship between cancer and coffee is another important area of research. While there may be a negative effect on some cancers (leukemia and stomach) there seems to be a potential protective effect on liver, colon, and rectal cancer. Its been suggested that the rapid transit of coffee and fast passage of stool aids in eliminating carcinogens from food as well as bile acids.

Like green and black tea, coffee has its share of antioxidants that show promise towards protection against certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. (Antioxidants are components in food that protect cells from damage caused by oxidation). One study found that coffee may be the leading source of antioxidants in the American diet.  Not because it’s the best source of antioxidants, but because we’re drinking so much of it.

Nutritionally speaking, a coffee cup label would look like a bunch of zeros. No fat, calories (too little to mention), cholesterol, sodium, or carbohydrates. There are trace minerals in coffee, for example, potassium, magnesium, manganese, thiamin, and niacin, all essential in varying amounts.

Coffee today is a mere shadow of what we were once filling in our travel mugs. The specialty drinks we now call coffee are loaded with extras like excess sugar, cream (including whipped) and any of the plethora of syrups at your request. Often closing in at 500-700 calories (not to mention the saturated fat) per drink and negating any possible health benefits. Dieters beware.

Coffee has almost as many terms attached to it as eggs do. Fair trade-certified coffee ensures environment sustainability and that the farmers were paid fairly benefiting their community and local environment. Organic coffee is grown with out pesticide, herbicides or any other chemicals.  Shade grown coffee is grown under existing trees protecting the environment and uses little to no chemicals.

Before you set your coffee machine on a 24-hour auto drip remember that caffeine is not advised for pregnant women and caffeine may exacerbate the effect of certain medications. Check with your doctor.

Americans love affair with coffee may turn out to be beneficial, but it’s definitely not a health tonic, despite health claims. Feel free to enjoy your morning buzz, in moderation of course.

Meatless Mondays

24 Jan

The Meatless Monday movement is here. Forcing us to take stock in the notion that we may really be what we eat.

The Health benefits are numerous: reduce cancer risk, reduce heart disease, fight diabetes, curb the obesity epidemic, live longer, and improve overall health.

The environments benefits are staggering: Reduce carbon foot print - it’s estimated that the meat industry generates one fifth of the man-made green house emissions accelerating climate change. Minimize water usage - an estimated 1800-2500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound. Reduce fossil fuel dependence - it takes about 54 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein from beef compared to 2 calories of fossil fuel from 1 calorie of protein from soy.

Los Angeles became the largest city to embrace the movement. If the spiritual home of the hamburger (In & Out Burger) and the health conscious fanatics can do it- we can all do it. No excuses.

Most of us end up cooking the same old reliables week after week. Performance anxiety prevents us from thinking outside the box to even give meatless Monday a try.  And NO, Meatless Mondays does not mean rice cakes and carrots.

And while we’re on the topic, not every meal needs to be laden with animal protein. Beans, tofu, quinoa offer lots of protein with out  the saturated fat. Plus most Americans consume double, even triple amount of their daily protein requirements (because our portions are too large).

A dietary overhall isn’t necessary- we’tre talking one day a week. Chefs generally don’t work Mondays, so eating out is sub-par, fish never arrives at the market on Mondays, so who wants to purchase days old fish, and you have most likely come off the weekend pushing the calorie-alcohol-splurge envelope.

Below are some of my house hold favs to get you started:

- Zucchini and garbanzo bean fritters along with a salad

- Roasted seasonal veggies with quinoa

- Tofu and asparagus stir fry

- Whole wheat pizza (you can even buy the dough at Whole Foods – all you have to do is roll it out)  topped with a little cheese and roasted or grilled veggies. Accompany with salad.

- Bean and corn whole wheat burrito with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and small portions of cheese.

*For recipes check out my recipe tab


Cocktails and All Things Liquid Part 2

8 May

How many calories in some of the most popular alcoholic drinks?

Gin or vodka and tonic =126

Dark rum and coke =142

Medium glass of white wine (175ml) =130

Medium glass of red wine (175ml) =120

Bottle of wine (white) =555

Bottle of wine (red) =510

5% Lager (pint) =240-50

Cider (pint) =180-250

Stout (pint) =210

Bitter/Ale =180-230

Liqueur (50ml) =100 -170

Brandy (50ml) =110

Whiskey (25ml) =55

Mixed drink (Ready to drink) (275ml bottle) =160-228

There’s nothing wrong with adding a little alcohol to the diet. The trick is realizing that liquid calories count and add up…fast. Some pints of beer have as many calores as a slice of pizza. Cut back a few calories during the day to make room for a drink or two.

Organic v. Conventional Part 2

8 Mar

Avoid the Dirty Dozen

I try to buy organic produce whenever possible.     I realize that organic produce often costs more than conventional.    However, there are 12 fruits and vegetables you should always try to buy organic according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). (The EWG is a non- profit organization specializing in environmental research and advocacy. Most of their funding is from private organizations dedicated to protecting public health and environment). The fruits and vegetables noted below appear to retain the highest pesticide residue.   Cut your exposure to pesticides by purchasing the organic variety for the following:

Fruits: apples, cherries, imported grapes (due to high levels of toxic residue), nectarines, peaches, pears, and strawberries. It ought to be noted that imported grapes may be in the top twelve but domestic grapes ranked in the top 25.

Vegetables: celery, lettuce, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, and spinach.

Photo Source: EWG’s 2011 Shopper’s Guide

Clean 15

On the flip side there is also a Clean 15. 15 foods that show little to no pesticide residue and are on the ok list for consuming non organic. (Notice the thick skin on most of the foods listed, potentially protecting residue consumption).

Fruits: pineapple, mango, kiwi,cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit

Veggies: onion, avocado, sweet corn, sweet pea, asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, sweet potato, mushrooms

As a dietitian I have to mention that eating non organic fruits and veggies (if cost sets you running) out weights the benefits of not.


Organic vs Conventional Part 1

29 Feb

“Are organic foods better than conventional?” A common question I am asked frequently in practice. The question is not as easy as it once was to answer. Organic, local, homegrown…all play a role in what the optimal choice really is.


Here’s what I suggest:

Shop local farmers’ markets.  


The more local your food, the less processing it generally goes through to get to your table.    When you shop at farmers markets, you support your local farmers—and help ensure that family farms will be around for your children and grandchildren.

Get in the habit of eating seasonally.    Strawberries grown locally and harvested at peak season taste better—and generally cost less—than the same fruit grown a half continent or hemisphere away and shipped by train or air freight.

Buying local food is also better for the planet.    Less packaging.   Smaller carbon footprint to transport it from the farm to your table.    Did you know that most American food travels an average of 1,300 miles from farm to plate?    (Think about how much fossil fuels that takes.)

Make sure your farmers market really is a farmers market.    Some so called “farmers markets” sell the same industrially farmed, out-of-state produce you’d find at the supermarket.    This is not a real farmers market.

Take the time to meet and talk with your local farmers.    You’ll be amazed how much you learn about food and healthy eating.

And of course, don’t forget to bring your own reusable shopping bag.




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