Category Archives: Nutrition Info

Ten Healthy Choices for Super Bowl Sunday

Delicious snacks for your Super Bowl party don’t  have to be unhealthy.  Try out these ten heart-healthy choices that are sure to please!

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Colorful fruit and vegetable trays are the perfect snack food for any Super Bowl party.  They are simple, versatile, and packed with nutrition.  For fruit trays, try sliced apples, oranges, grapes, pears, strawberries or bananas.  Carrots, celery, broccoli, snow peas, bell pepper strips, cauliflower, and cherry tomatoes make excellent vegetable platters.  Serve with any of the following heart-healthy dips:
    • Bean dip or hummus: Beans are rich in fiber and protein, making them a healthy and filling dip.  Try making a simple hummus by blending the following ingredients in a food processor until creamy: 2 cans chickpeas, juice from 1 lemon, 3 roasted red-peppers, 1 clove garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil.
    • Salsa: Salsa makes a great dip for vegetables.  It is low in calories, and high in lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes.  For a creamy salsa, try mixing in some plain, low fat yogurt.
    • Guacamole: Although higher in calories, guacamole is rich in heart-healthy fats.  Give your guacamole an additional nutrition boost by adding extra chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, bell pepper or cucumber.
    • Yogurt Fruit Dip: As a dip for your fruit tray, try mixing 1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt with 2 tablespoons of honey and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Nuts: Nuts are rich in magnesium, vitamin E, and heart-healthy fats.  Look for raw, unsalted or lightly salted varieties of your favorite nuts.  Serve alone, or make a trail mix with whole grain cereal and dried fruit.
  • Air-popped popcorn: Popcorn is a whole grain that only contains 30 calories per cup when it isn’t drenched in butter.  Try spritzing with nonstick spray, and sprinkling with oregano, black pepper, and parmesan cheese.
  • Chili: Warm up with a hearty chili that is packed with flavor and nutrition by adding extra beans, tomatoes, corn or onions to your recipe.  Try vegetarian, ground turkey, or a white chili with chicken as an alternative to beef.
  • Water and other alcohol-free drinks: For something fun, try spritzers made with sparkling water and a splash of 100% fruit juice.
  • Angel food cake:  Looking for a lighter dessert to serve?  Try angel food cake topped with fresh berries and fat-free whipped cream.

Q&A with the Dietitian: Low-Sodium Lunch and Snack Ideas

Healthy lunchI recently received the following question from a blog follower:

Q: My husband is on a low-sodium diet.  He is a schoolteacher, so I am trying to find low-sodium lunch and snack ideas to pack him when he goes back to school.   He used to eat sandwiches with deli lunchmeat, but these are very high in sodium.  Do you have any low-sodium lunch and snack ideas?

A: You are correct that deli lunchmeat is typically loaded with sodium.  It also frequently contains nitrates, a preservative that is linked to an increased cancer risk.  One tip I have heard from another dietitian for sandwiches is to cook up a whole turkey like it were Thanksgiving, and then carve it and freeze the cutlets for sandwiches.  One turkey should provide low- sodium lunchmeat for months!  I’m sure you could do this with other types of meat as well.

I am also a big fan of dinner leftovers for lunch if he has access to a microwave.  I pack a tupperware with the leftovers and keep it cool with an ice pack in my lunch box.  Usually, I cook 1-2 meals on Sunday and portion them out for the entire week.  I also cut up carrots, cucumbers and bell pepper and portion them out in tupperware containers for the week too.

Snack ideas include: fresh fruit, a handful of raw nuts, plain yogurt with fruit (and a little sweetener, artificial or Truvia if you want to avoid the sugar), low-sodium string cheese, peanut butter and celery, humus and vegetable sticks or low sodium Triscuts.

You also might check the labels of some canned tuna and see if you can find a brand that would fit the bill.  A peanut butter and low-sugar jelly sandwich can also be good for a quick meal or snack.

The best way to cut sodium in your diet is to eat more whole, unprocessed foods (like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fresh meat and milk/yogurt) and to eat fewer highly processed foods.

Do you have a nutrition question you would like to ask?  Post it here in the comments section and I may turn it into a blog post!

GO, SLOW and WHOA Foods for Families

Everyone is buzzing about the new food symbol MyPlate, but how do you know exactly which foods you should buy to fill your family’s plates? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s We Can ®! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) program offers a great tool for easy, healthy eating: GO, SLOW and WHOA foods!  That is:


1)   GO Foods:  Nutrient-dense foods to be eaten almost anytime, like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, low fat dairy and water.

2)   SLOW Foods:  Foods to be eaten less (only sometimes), like white bread, oil, frozen yogurt, 100% juice and dried fruit.

3)   WHOA Foods:  Calorie-dense foods that should only be eaten once in awhile, like French fries, doughnuts, cookies, butter, soda, and other foods with added fats and sugars.

Using this printable GO, SLOW, and WHOA chart as a guide can make shopping, cooking, and healthy eating a whole lot easier for your entire family.  Post it on the fridge, or bring it with you on weekly trips to the grocery store.  And here’s a version just for the kids: “U R What U Eat.”

For more tips and ideas to build a healthy family, visit the We Can! website.

We Can! Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition, We Can! and the We Can! logos are registered trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Participation by Nicole Geurin, RD does not imply endorsement by DHHS/ NIH/ NHLBI.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and Cookbook Give-Away

Did you know May is National Mediterranean Diet Month?  The Mediterranean Diet is not really a “diet” at all, but a way of living and eating that can promote a long and healthy life. To celebrate, I partnered with Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, to write this post and also to provide a give-away of their cookbook, The Oldways Table.  Read on to learn more about the Mediterranean diet and enter to win the cookbook!

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is based on the eating habits of those living around the Mediterranean Sea.  The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fresh, plant-based foods, including whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and olive oil. It also includes moderate amounts of fish and wine, but foods like red meat and sweets are saved for special occasions. The Mediterranean lifestyle also includes reasonable portion sizes and daily physical activity. Here is a depiction of the Mediterranean Food Pyramid:
What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?
Research has shown that people who follow the Mediterranean diet tend to have a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic diseases.  Those following the Mediterranean diet have a relatively low intake of saturated fats and added sugars, and a relatively high consumption of healthy unsaturated fat, fiber, and other essential nutrients.
Tips to go Mediterranean
The best way to “go Mediterranean” is to view the Mediterranean diet as more of a lifestyle change rather than a “diet.”
  1. Begin by incorporating fish into your meals at least twice a week.  
  2. Aim to try a few vegetarian meals rather than having the main focus of a meal be meat, such as steak.  
  3. Reduce the amount of processed foods you eat, and replace refined grains (like white bread and white rice) with whole grains (like whole wheat bread and brown rice).
  4. Include fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed whole grains at most meals.
For more information on the Mediterranean diet, including recipes, menus and tips, visit Oldways Med Resources.
Enter to Win the Cookbook!

To enter to win this cookbook, please do the following:
  1. Write a comment to this post and link to a Mediterranean-style recipe on the web.
  2. Share this post with others via a social networking site, like Twitter, Facebook, or your own blog.

I will randomly select a winner by June 1st, 2011, and will put you in contact with Oldways to receive your book.

Making Mealtime Fun

I wrote this post as a participant in the Eat, Play, Love blog carnival hosted by Meals Matter and Dairy Council of California to share ideas on positive and fun ways to teach children healthy eating habits. A list of other registered dietitians and moms who are participating in the carnival will be listed at the bottom of this post or can be found on Meals Matter.

As a dietitian with the KidShape program, I have learned the magic of making mealtimes fun in helping kids to eat healthier.  Here are some tips I’ve learned from KidShape families:

  • Eat meals together, as a family, as often as possible.
  • Make mealtimes pleasant.  Sit at the table, and thank the cook for preparing the meal.
  • Turn off the TV, so families can fully enjoy the food and the company.
  • Invite kids to help with the cooking.  This can be especially fun when preparing a kid-friendly meal, like homemade pizzas on whole wheat pita bread.
  • Be a good role model.  If kids see their parents enjoying nutritious foods, and contributing to a positive atmosphere at the dinner table, they will learn to do the same.
  • Take it slow.  Kids need to be exposed to food numerous times before they are willing to accept it.
What other tips have you found help make mealtimes fun?                                                      
Don’t stop here! Join the carnival and read other Eat, Play, Love blogs from dietitians and moms offering the best advice on raising healthy eaters. And if you don’t get enough today, for more positive, realistic and actionable advice from registered dietitian moms, register for the free, live webinar Eat, Play, Love: Raising Healthy Eaters on Wednesday, May 18.                                                                           

The Best-Kept Secret for Raising Healthy Eaters, Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD
Feeding is Love, Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN
5 Quick Ways to Prepare Veggies with Maximum Flavor, Dayle Hayes, MS, RD
The Art of Dinnertime, Elana Natker, MS, RD
Children Don’t Need a Short Order Cook, Christy Slaughter
Cut to the Point – My Foodie Rules, Glenda Gourley
Eat, Play, Love – A Challenge for Families, Alysa Bajenaru, RD
Eat, Play, Love ~ Raising Healthy Eaters, Kia Robertson
Get Kids Cooking, Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN
Kid-Friendly Kitchen Gear Gets Them Cooking, Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD
Kids that Can Cook Make Better Food Choices, Glenda Gourley
Making Mealtime Fun, Nicole Geurin, RD
My No Junk Food Journey – Want to Come Along? , Kristine Lockwood
My Recipe for Raising Healthy Eaters: Eat Like the French, Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD
Playing with Dough and the Edible Gift of Thyme, Robin Plotkin, RD, LD
Picky Eaters  Will Eat Vegetables, Theresa Grisanti, MA
Raising a Healthy Eater, Danielle Omar, MS, RD
Putting the Ease in Healthy Family Eating, Connie Evers, MS, RD, LD
Raising Healthy Eaters Blog Carnival & Chat Roundup, Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RD, LD
Soccer Mom Soapbox, Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
Teenagers Can Be Trying But Don’t Give UpDiane Welland MS, RD
What My Kids Taught Me About Eating Mindfully, Michelle May, MD

Increase Children’s Fruit & Veggie Consumption with a Smile

A guest post by the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

A new study suggests that if parents smile while eating something that they want their children to eat that those kids are more likely to try it. Researchers found that how much children wanted to eat a particular food was influenced by emotions displayed by people eating that food.

These results build on a study published in late 2008 in the journal Preventive Medicine suggesting that parents can increase the amount of fruits and vegetables their children eat simply by eating more themselves. In this study, researchers found that when parents increased their own consumption of fruits and veggies, their kid’s consumption rose as well.

Parents have a tremendous influence on what their children eat. These studies demonstrate that this influence extends from simply making fruits and vegetables available for their children, to modeling their own enjoyment of eating a healthy diet.

Shape your kid’s eating habits and help them develop a healthy attitude toward food by making sure they see you eating plenty of nutritious, delicious, fruits and vegetables.

Here is some good advice for parents:

  • Show kids how enjoyable healthy foods can be with comments like “Wow, that tastes good!” or “Look how colorful!”
  • Set an example by being a good role model. Eat the way you want your child to eat. Choose a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups, eat in moderation and make exercise part of your regular routine.
  • Don’t ban foods. Kids will encounter cookies, chips and other treats when they’re away from home. Allow them to explore, but at the same time teach them what their bodies need. The goal is to enjoy a varied healthy diet, which allows for occasional indulgences.
  • Get kids in the kitchen. From an early age, involve children in preparing food. Children love being involved; they love feeling like they’re helping. If they feel they’re part of the process, they’re more likely to try the finished product.

Try making Crazy Curly Broccoli Bake for dinner. It’s one of the kid-friendly recipes you’ll find on the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters website.

More ways to get children to eat more fruits and veggies can be found at the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters website, Parents will also find a database of over 1,000 recipes, many of which can be made in 30 minutes or less, and tips for eating healthy on a budget. The entire website was designed to help the whole family easily fit more fruits & veggies into their meals and snacks.

Eat Right with Color

imageMarch is here, and that means it’s officially National Nutrition Month®!  I love this year’s theme, Eat Right with Color.  A wonderful way to boost the nutritional quality of your diet and improve your health is to add more colorful fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks.  Different colored fruits and vegetables contain different types of cancer-fighting antioxidants, which is why we should eat a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables.

How many fruits and vegetables should we eat each day?

imageThe slogan used to be “5 A Day for Better Health,” but now we’ve discovered that’s not enough for most individuals to experience the maximum health benefits.  Today, the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s slogan is “More Matters,” because most people will improve their health by increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat.  The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack.  This will help ensure you’re eating enough nutrients and may help prevent overindulging in higher calorie foods.

Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.  Now, that’s Eating Right with Color!image