Tag: registered dietitian

Food Allergy vs. Intolerance: Do you Know the Difference?

It seems like everyone has a food sensitivity these days. However, there is an increase in individuals who are self-diagnosing their food allergies and intolerances, or even worse, using a food sensitivity as an excuse to restrict important foods from their diet.

Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under 18. However, an expert-led survey found that almost 50 million people THINK they have one. This number was after the survey’s strict criteria for labeling a food allergy as well as its exclusion of food intolerance symptoms from the study.

In order to determine whether someone truly has an issue with food it is important to first understand the distinction between a food sensitivity/intolerance and an allergy.
  • A food sensitivity (or intolerance) = a symptomatic response to a food that is usually caused by a digestive issue, such as not producing enough of a certain enzyme to properly break down a food. This can lead to symptoms such as: bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or gas, but is NOT an immune response. (i.e IBS or lactose intolerance)
  • A food allergy = an adverse immune response to a dietary protein within a food. Basically, the body thinks it is being harmed from the particular food and causes a range of symptoms from mild (rash or itch) to more severe, life-threatening reactions such as difficulty breathing/anaphylaxis. (i.e Celiac Disease or nut allergy)
The major difference is that with a food sensitivity/intolerance you may be able to eat small amounts of the problematic food without trouble or mild symptoms, whereas with a food allergy you may be at a risk of a life-threatening reaction.
If you suspect you have a problem with a particular food(s), it is best to see an allergist or gastroenterologist. Never self-diagnose or remove key foods from the diet without consulting a Registered Dietitian first.

Are you a Cereal Pro?

Cereal still remains one of the most popular breakfast (or snack) options across all age groups. In fact it is estimated that 50% of Americans eat cereal for breakfast daily.

After milk and carbonated beverages, breakfast cereal is the third most popular item sold in grocery stores. With hundreds of options to choose from, it can sometimes be overwhelming to select the right variety for your health goals.
Here are some helpful pointers to assist you the next time you hit the cereal aisle:
  1. Read the food label! The food label provides you with all the pertinent nutrient and ingredient information needed to determine whether a product is in fact healthy.
  2. Choose whole grain options. To know if a product is made with whole grains check the package for a) the words “100% whole grain” or b) the ingredient list to see if the first one listed is: whole wheat flour, stone wheat, durum wheat, or wheat flour. If you see “enriched white flour” the product is a refined (less healthy) grain.
  3. Go for the fiber. Select a cereal that provides 3 grams or more of fiber per serving.
  4. Be careful of the sugar. The cereal industry in the U.S. uses over 882 million pounds of sugar per year in its production! Aside from weight gain, added sugar contributes to many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. To check for grams of added sugar, look under “total sugar” on the food label. For example, the label will read 30 grams of total sugar, 20 grams of added sugar. That means 20/30 grams of sugar were added by the food company. Don’t be fooled by the bright packaging or your favorite cereal mascots. The sugar is everywhere!
Healthier cereal options provide important key nutrients such as fiber and B vitamins. However, like any food, it is very important to watch portion sizes. Typically, 1 serving of dry cereal = 1 cup.
Now you are ready to take on the cereal aisle like a pro! Which cereal do you like to eat?

Food Spotlight: Artichokes

Not only do artichokes make such beautiful centerpieces with their unique texture and flower-shape, but they also provide several health benefits.
History: Artichokes are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. They originate from the Mediterranean and Northern African regions and have been harvested since the 5th century BC. It takes 6 months for the buds to be ready to eat, however they can be harvested as many as 30 times a season, with their peak season being in both the Spring and Fall.
Nutrition Profile: Artichokes are high in fiber and are loaded with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium. In fact, a medium artichoke contains almost 7 grams of fiber, which is a whopping 23-28% of the reference daily intake (RDI). They are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, which is particularly important with both corona virus and flu season upon us. Additionally, artichokes have been shown to: reduce both unhealthy (LDL) and total cholesterol, increase good (HDL) cholesterol, lower blood pressure for those with pre-existing elevated levels, and improve digestive issues such as bloating flatulence, and constipation.
How to Eat: Artichokes can be eaten both warm or cold. The heart, which is fully edible, is a culinary delicacy and is known for its smooth and nutlike flavor. The smaller heads, or buds, are usually the most tender and are typically served as a warm vegetable with a sauce or as a cold salad or appetizer. They can be steamed whole, cooked in a microwave, baked, roasted, grilled, or sautéed.
Additional Tips: Artichokes are typically served with butter, cream, or mayo-based sauces. Because these options are high in saturated fat, be mindful of portion sizes. For healthier options, prepare a sauce with: nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt or tahini with lemon, garlic, and salt.

Try 1 New Recipe Each Week

Since Covid 19 hit, almost everyone I have spoken to both personally and professionally have all told me the same thing, “I am cooking more than I ever have!”
With both limited restaurant options available as well as at-home working and schooling, we have been able to connect more with our kitchens than we previously had time or resources for. While I am so happy to see so many people put their chef hats on and learn new skills, the Catch 22 is that many of us are getting cooking burn-out.
One way to combat the cooking exhaustion is to make it a goal to find and try 1 new recipe a week. Thankfully, we have countless options available at our fingertips. These include: internet sites, Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube. Not to mention, all of the paperback cookbooks and books that are available online.
By far, my favorite website for finding new recipes is: Epicurious. This website allows you to build recipes around a single ingredient, which is perfect for those who are wanting to try a new food but have no clue where to begin. You can filter by type of cuisine, dietary considerations, and type of cooking method. I also like the recipe comparison feature and the recipe rating system.
Another one of my favorites is Yummly. Some of the features require you to pay, however there are plenty of free recipes to choose from. The recipes are easy to read and follow and you can actually purchase all of the ingredients for a particular recipe directly from the website via Walmart, Ralph’s/Kroger, and Instacart. That to me is the coolest part!
America’s Test Kitchen is another great resource as are the Cooking Light and Eating Well websites. With the last two options be careful to review the recipe entirely as I have caught some that are listed as “Healthy” but were in fact not.
Whichever resource you choose, adding variety to your recipe library will help you “spice” things up (pun intended) in the kitchen and beat the cooking boredom.
Comment below with some other cookbooks, sites, or apps that you use to find new recipes.

Oven-Baked Latkes

Tonight marks the start of the 8-day Chanukah celebration.
Oil is heavily emphasized in traditional Chanukah foods. Latkes, or potato pancakes, being the most notable staple of the Jewish holiday. Like many traditional Chanukah foods, latkes are prepared by frying the potato mixture in cups and cups of oil.
While latkes are a delicious dish, they are not the healthiest food one can consume. One way to keep the tradition alive without compromising a healthy diet is to oven bake the mixture instead of frying it. Baking methods are helpful for cutting down on fat while also preserving the crispness, flavor, and taste of the latkes.
For a healthy spin on this traditionally oil-heavy dish try this delicious recipe for Oven-Baked Latkes:
Servings: 18
Total Time: 40 Minutes
Ingredients:
2 pounds russet potatoes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled (about the size of a baseball)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup vegetable oil
Equipment: 2 heavy non-stick baking sheets
Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and set racks in the center of the oven.
2. Peel the potatoes. Add them to a food processor with the peeled onion until coarsely grated.
3. Remove the mixture from the processor and squeeze out the excess moisture using paper towels and your hands. Repeat until the liquid is mostly drained.
4. Transfer the potato and onion mixture to a large bowl and mix in the eggs, salt, oil, baking powder, and flour.
5. Spray the non-stick baking sheets with olive oil spray.
6. Roll the mixture into small 1/4 cup balls, space them out on the greased pan, and flatten each with a spatula. They should resemble pancakes.
7. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used.
8. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the bottoms are crisp and golden. Flip the latkes using tongs and bake for another 10-15 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown all over.
9. Top with sour cream, apple sauce, or any of your other favorite toppings.oil

Changing your Perspective

“Changing your perspective changes your experience.”
Close your eyes and imagine yourself flying over the city of Paris at night. Imagine seeing the city below, its shape, the lights, and making out a glimpse of the famous landmarks that seem so teeny in such a large landscape. Now imagine being on the ground and standing directly under the structure of the Eiffel Tower. You break your neck just to take in the entirety of its glory and quickly realize just how small you are standing beneath it. In both of these scenarios, the sights offer different perspectives, yet the city remains the same. Each view is equally amazing as the other, yet they yield different experiences.
Life very much parallels this sentiment. Challenges, hardships, anxiety, relationships, jobs, personal life, etc. can look very different depending on what angle we view them from. We can choose to always look at our lives from one single lens, or we can practice seeing the same exact things from a different view. Perhaps there is in fact a flicker of positivity when we look at a hardship from the outside in. Maybe a relationship that seems perfect actually is not when we step out of it for a bit. Maybe eating that piece of cake over the weekend seemed devastating to your health goals in the moment, but actually was worth the joy you experienced with every bite.
No matter what it is that you are going through, this week challenge yourself to look at scenarios with a new perspective. You may be surprised by the different feelings you experience as a result of changing your perception.

Food Spotlight: Quinoa

History: Quinoa originates from South America, specifically Peru, Bolivia and Chile. It is often considered to be in the grain category, however it is actually a seed.

Nutrition Profile: Quinoa is not only packed with fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, but it also contains high amounts of protein and is gluten-free. It is one of the few plant foods that has all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein and a great protein source for vegans and vegetarians. Quinoa has twice the amount of fiber compared to other whole grains and is a much healthier alternative to white rice. Fiber helps lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and promotes both heart and gut health. Quinoa can be found in different colors and varieties, however they all offer the same health benefits.

Cooking Instructions: Quinoa can be prepared over the stove top or in a rice cooker. Use the ratio of 2 cups of liquid per 1 cup of dry quinoa. One cup typically cooks in about 20 minutes and yields about three cups cooked.

 Additional Tips: Quinoa has a bitterness to it, which is mainly due to its outer coating. One way to get rid of this is to rinse it in a mesh strainer under cold water prior to cooking. In order to add some additional flavor, you can replace the water or add low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth as the main liquid. Additionally, you can try adding other spices, garlic, or salt and pepper to it.

Food Spotlight: Cranberries

Cranberries are often known for being made into sauces and juices, but in reality fresh cranberries are extremely tart and are nowhere close to the sugary levels you may be familiar with.  
 
History: Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to the swamps of northeastern North America. Native Americans used them as a staple beginning in the 1550s. By the 1620, the Pilgrims learned from the Native Americans how to use cranberries in their cooking. They are now one of the many symbols of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.  
 
Nutrition Profile: Cranberries are low in calories and are packed with fiber, Vitamin C, and tons of antioxidants. With both corona virus and flu season upon us, cranberries are great to incorporate into your diet to help support your immune system. If you are prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs), 100% cranberry juice can help reduce your risk and serve as a natural way to reduce severity of symptoms. Additionally, cranberries have been shown to prevent stomach cancer and ulcers, reduce unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol, increase good (HDL) cholesterol, and promote heart health.   
 
Additional Tips: When drinking juice, only drink 100% Cranberry Juice and do not have >8 fl oz. All other cranberry juice products are simply cocktails, blends, or only contain 10% juice. The rest is plain old sugar! Cranberry products contain high amounts of oxalates, so for those prone to kidney stones, be mindful of portion sizes.
 
Healthy Recipe Ideas: Add sliced raw cranberries to a spinach salad. mix them with vanilla yogurt, use them to top sirloin steak, salmon, or chicken, and use them as a dessert topping for angel food cake with cool whip.