Dark Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Research shows that drinking tart cherry juice can aid in muscle recovery. Cherries are known for their anti-inflammatory properties which prevent muscle damage. A little cocoa powder gives this delicious smoothie a touch of chocolate behind every sip. If you want to increase the protein content, try adding chocolate protein powder instead of the cocoa powder.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
Serves 1



1/4 cup low-fat greek yogurt
1/2 cup tart cherry juice
1/4 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup frozen cherries or frozen mixed berries
2 tsp cocoa powder



Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!


Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 160 | Total Fat: 1g | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 10g | Fiber: 3g

With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

 Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables. They are mild in flavor, and rich in vitamin C and fiber. Roasting green beans gives them a “meatier” texture. This simple preparation yields a delicious side that can be paired with any main dish.

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans
Serves 1



1 handful of green beans, ends removed (about 5 oz)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste
2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Wash and cut off ends of green beans. Spread on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix the beans with your hands to evenly distribute the seasoning and oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Afterwards, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


Nutritional Facts:

Calories: 120 | Total Fat: 6g | Carbohydrate: 10g | Protein: 4g | Fiber: 7g

With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Chicken is an excellent source of protein. Skinless chicken breast is low in saturated fat and contains 30 grams of protein in just 4 ounces of cooked meat.

Marinating chicken makes the meat more tender and flavorful. It is a good idea to pound the chicken breast until it is less than one-inch thick so the marinade can soak through.

This lemon pepper marinate gives chicken a light and vibrant flavor. You can prepare several servings to facilitate quick meals during the week.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
Serves 2



2 chicken breasts 6 oz. each
1 lemon
1 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1 inch thick. Use a meat tenderizer if you have one. If not, place the chicken on a cutting board, cover it with wax paper and pound it with a hammer.

In a plastic bag mix the juice of 1 lemon, paprika, garlic, black pepper, and olive oil. Shake to mix, then add the chicken and seal the bag. Let it marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes to overnight in the refrigerator.


When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the chicken on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with brown rice and vegetables.


With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Fruit Custard Oatmeal

Custard oatmeal

Recently, I’ve revised my morning breakfast routine.  Here is my upgraded oatmeal recipe.  The secret ingredient?  An egg, cooked in with the oatmeal, adds a protein boost and creates a custard-like consistency.  Delicious!


  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit, chopped (such as: apples, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, or mango)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk or soymilk
  • Dash of cinnamon


  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Microwave until the egg is cooked and the oatmeal is the desired consistency, usually 4-5 minutes on high.

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition information:

Calories: 440, Total fat: 13 g, Saturated fat: 2.5 g, Cholesterol: 210 mg, Sodium: 135 mg, Carbohydrates: 67 g, Fiber: 12 g, Protein: 18 g


Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming (Book Review)

childs-weightEvery parent and dietitian should read Ellyn Satter’s Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.  Ellyn Satter is a registered dietitian and family therapist, and is considered to be the leading expert on feeding and raising healthy kids.

In the book, Satter refutes the idea that parents must force their children to eat less and exercise more to lose weight.  In the long run, this technique backfires, as children become preoccupied with food and turned off to physical activity.  Rather, Ellyn coaches parents to feed well, parent well, and allow children to grow up to get the bodies that are right for them.

For a summary of the books main points, read on, or click here for a PDF summary from Satter herself.

Feed well.

Feeding embodies your entire relationship with your child.  Feeding your child is nurturing your child, and it should be about providing, not restricting.  Restricting hurts both emotionally and physically, and in the long run it will make your child fatter, not thinner.

To feed well, start by having regular family meals.  Family meals are more important than most people realize.  Not only do family meals teach kids how to eat well, they also provide kids with reliable social and emotional support.  Children who have regular family meals do better in school, have better mental health, and display better social skills.  Make family meals rewarding for everyone by following these tips:

  • Prepare and serve food that you enjoy.  It doesn’t all have to be healthy.  Find a balance.
  • Put 4-5 foods on the table and let everyone pick and choose what they want.
  • Teach and expect your children to behave nicely.
  • Understand enough about children’s normal eating behavior to feel successful with feeding.
  • Follow Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility (below).

Follow Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility.

Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility states that:

  • Parents are responsible for the what, when and where of feeding.
  • Children are responsible for the how much and whether of eating.

In other words, if parents do a good job with feeding, they can relax and trust their child to do a good job with eating.

Parent’s feeding jobs:

  • Choose and prepare the food.
  • Provide regular meals and snacks.
  • Make eating times pleasant.
  • Show children what they have to learn about food and mealtime behavior.
  • Do not let children graze for food or beverages between meal and snack times.
  • Let children grow up to get the bodies that are right for them.

Children’s Eating Jobs:

  • Children will eat (although sometimes erratically, this is normal).
  • They will eat the amount they need.
  • They will eat an increasing variety of food.
  • They will grow predictabily.
  • They will learn to behave well at the table.
  • Gradually, during school age and teen years, your child will learn to manage the what, when and where of feeding for himself.  Slowly dole out responsibilities as they demonstrate responsibility to handle them.

Parent well: physical activity.

Ellyn Satter also promotes a division of responsibility with physical activity:

  • The parent is responsible for providing structure, safety and opportunities to move.
  • The child is responsible for deciding how much and whether to move.

In other words, if parents will provide fun and safe opportunities for physical activity, the child will take care of the rest.  Children are naturally inclined to move and find joy in active play.

Parents jobs:

  • Provide safe places for activity that the child enjoys.
  • Find fun and rewarding family activities.
  • Provide opportunities to experiment with group activities such as sports.
  • Set limits on TV but not on reading, writing, artwork or other sedentary activities.
  • Remove the TV and computer from the child’s bedroom.
  • Make children responsible for dealing with their own boredom.

Children’s jobs:

  • Children will be active.  Each child is more or less active depending on natural inclinations.
  • Each child is more or less skilled, graceful, energetic or aggressive, depending on natural inclinations.
  • Children’s physical capabilities will grow and develop.
  • Children will experiment with activities that are in concert with their growth and development.
  • Children with find activities that are right for them.

Know how to read your child’s growth chart.

Children grow predictably, usually along a similar path on a growth chart.  According to Satter, it doesn’t matter if the child is at the 5th percentile or the 95th percentile, as long as he/she is tracking along the growth chart.  There is only an issue if a child’s weight is accelerating or decelerating, and rapidly crossing growth chart lines.  (Slow and gradual change across the percentiles is typically normal.)

If a child’s weight is rapidly accelerating or decelerating, Ellyn asks, “What is undermining this child’s natural ability to grow in a way that is right for him/her?”

Usually, Ellyn finds that the cause is restrained feeding, poor feeding practices or stress.  Forcing food, restricting food, or allowing children to graze all day can all cause weight issues.  The solution?  Follow the division of responsibility, and the growth pattern will begin to track appropriately.

Allow children to grow up to get the bodies that are right for them.

Satter recommends that you let go of any agenda that you (or your child’s doctor) may have regarding your child’s size or shape.  Feed well, parent well and help your children to feel good about themselves at any size.

Questions?  Comments?  Let me know what you think.

“What’s Cooking” Sunday? Salmon burgers.

I like to take time on Sundays to prepare my meals for the week.  Read on to see what’s cooking this week.

Salmon Burgers

Canned salmon is a convenient and healthy way to eat fish.  I tried this recipe today from the back of a can of premium wild Bumble Bee salmon.  It turned out pretty tasty.  Rather than pan-fry the patties, I prefer to grill them on my indoor electric  grill.  They are a little less crumbly if you freeze the patties, and then defrost them for 1 minute in the microwave before grilling.

I enjoyed these burgers with a salad and 100-calorie whole wheat bun.

salmon burger

How to Snack at the Office

Top-12-Best-Healthy-SnacksSnacking can help you stay energized and prevent overeating at your next meal.  But chips, candy and soda contain “empty calories,” meaning short-lasting energy and virtually no nutritional value.  Here are some healthy snack ideas to fuel your workday.

Fruits and vegetables: Hands down, the healthiest snack choice you can make is fresh fruits or vegetables. Try keeping a fruit bowl at your desk, or bringing fresh vegetable sticks to munch on.  If you are trying to lose weight, consider limiting snacks to only fresh fruits and vegetables to cut calories.

Dried fruit is less nutritious than fresh fruit, but a much healthier snack than candy.  The fiber in dried fruit helps to slow the absorption of sugar, making you less likely to have an energy spike and crash compared to eating candy.  Stay away from fruit juice, which has lots of sugar but no fiber.

Nuts: People often fear nuts because of their high calorie content, but a recent study published in the Obesity journal found that people who eat nuts at least two times per week were 31% less likely to gain weight than were participants who never or almost never ate nuts.  Grab a small handful of nuts for a mid-afternoon snack, or spread 2 Tablespoons of nut butter on apple slices or celery sticks.  Choose nuts or nut butters without added oil, sugar or salt.

Light microwave popcorn: Did you know that popcorn is considered a whole grain?  Whole grains are more nutritious than refined grains (such as white rice and white bread), because fewer nutrients are stripped away during manufacturing.   Three cups of light popcorn contain only 100 calories, making popcorn a light, yet voluminous snack.  Microwave popcorn packets fit conveniently into your desk drawer.  Just don’t overcook it in the microwave, unless you really want to tick off your coworkers!

A hard-boiled egg: Eggs have gotten a bad reputation in the past for their cholesterol content, but more recent research suggests that the amount of cholesterol consumed from food is not linked to heart disease.  Plus, eggs are an excellent source of important nutrients, including high-quality protein, selenium and choline.  Studies have found that people with a high choline intake have lower levels of inflammation.  This is a good thing, because chronic inflammation has been linked to a number of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

Most health groups in the US suggest that up to one egg yolk a day and unlimited egg whites will not increase the risk of heart disease, even for people who are watching their cholesterol.  Hard-boiled eggs and other protein-rich foods should not be kept at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

Your food choices have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing.  The time spent preparing healthy snacks for work will pay off with improved energy and health.

This article was originally written for Comstock’s Magazine, the premier monthly business publication in California’s Capital Region.