Thursday, May 24, 2012

What's In My Bag?

Ever want to shop with a dietitian? Now you can! Read on to join me on today’s shopping trip and even see what I did with everything when I got home.

This morning I went to the Tianguis mercado (a traveling market in Mexico City that provides us urban folks with fresh produce). Although I wish I could get everything there, a slight supermarket walkthrough was also necessary.

Take a look at what I came home with…

From the Tianguis: Eggplant, zucchini, garlic, acelgas (swiss chard), avocado, peaches, rosemary, mozzarella and parmesan cheese

From the Supermarket: whole chicken cut into pieces, can of tomato sauce (convenience!), low-fat and low-sodium beans, red wine (just for the antioxidants!)

Now What?

After getting home with my packages, the first thing I did was wash all the produce while thinking about my week of dinners. The trick is to cook the foods in a way that provides you with the most meals and left-over potential.  

  • For dinner tonight, I roasted the chicken with 1 tsp olive oil, salt, pepper, and a ton of fresh rosemary. To accompany it, I made the famous Your Secret Ingredient pasta-less lasagna (Click HERE for this amazing recipe!!!)- just eggplant, zucchini, sauce, and cheese. I'll use the leftover chicken in salads for the rest of the week and turn some into a healthy chicken salad with some low-fat mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, apples and grapes.

  • For dinner tomorrow I will serve the “lasagna” with the beans I bought and a salad of lettuce, veggies, peaches, and avocado.

  • Looking ahead in the week, I will use the rest of the zucchini, tomato sauce, and cheese to make a whole-wheat pasta primavera.

  • Finally, I will cook up the swiss chard with some olive oil, garlic, and raisins (This is delicious- just sauté garlic in olive oil, add the greens, cook for 10 minutes and then add the raisins in at the end. I know it sounds weird but I promise you'll love it!) and serve it with some fresh grilled fish. 

PS- I always have some salad greens and healthy starches, such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, and quinoa lying around to complete my meals.

PPS- I also always like to keep a variety of fruits and veggies on-hand for quick-thinking healthy meals and snacks. Check out what's in my produce bowl right now: peaches, zucchini, jicama, orange, garlic, bananas, avocado, and tomatoes...yum!!!

So there you have it….4 nights of meals in one shopping trip, not to mention a few great lunches, as well!  Hope you had a good time on my journey, I know I did :)  

What’s in your bag?? And more importantly, what do you with it?

--Samantha Jacobs, MS RD CDN

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fiddle me this, fiddle me that…

As bad as it is to say because I am a dietitian, sometimes I get bored of vegetables. I love what they do for me and the way they make my body feel, but sometimes I get stuck in a veggie-rut, buying the same veggies over and over at my weekly grocery trips. So, I’m always on the look-out for a new interesting vegetable to spice up my dinners. This past Friday, a good friend of mine cooked up fiddleheads to serve at a dinner she invited me to. Oh my excitement! I was so inspired I thought I would tell you all about them…

Why have you done a good thing?

Fiddlehead ferns (also known as ostrich ferns) are beautiful and quirky spring veggies that look like rolled up snakes or coils. Tasting like a cross between asparagus, broccoli, and spinach, fiddleheads have a mild flavor that are appealing to most. A great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, fiddleheads pack a powerful nutritional punch. Like other green veggies, fiddleheads are also packed full of antioxidants including powerful phytochemicals.

Cleaning Tips:
Fiddleheads need to be well cleaned. Under warm water, use your fingers to rub the fiddleheads clean to remove any brownish fuzzy or paper covering.

Cooking Tips:
Make sure to cook fiddleheads well as they contain natural substances that can cause gastric distress and foodborne illness. When you are ready to cook them, place fiddleheads in boiling water for 10 minutes. Then, cook fiddleheads per the recipe that you are following. Fiddleheads also spoil fast so cook them up shortly (within 1-2 days) after purchase.

Cooking ideas:
-Saute up fiddleheads as a side dish. Sauté with garlic, shallot or onion, salt/pepper, and 1 tsp of oil or roast in the oven. For an interesting flavor, sprinkle with fresh lemon juice
-Add fiddleheads to your next Asian stir-fry.
-Mix up your omelets, add fiddleheads!
-Swap out asparagus for fiddleheads into your risotto dish
-Serve up fiddlehead salad at your next bbq cook-out
-Mix in fiddleheads to a whole-wheat pasta dish. Check out Emeril Lagasse’s easy fiddlehead fern pasta dish as a side dish to grilled fish or chicken. 

The possibilities are endless! So mix up your Spring veggie dinners and give fiddleheads a try. Other interesting Spring veggies: ramps, morel mushrooms, fennel, asparagus, artichokes, arugula, rhubarb….Pick something up at the grocery store or farmer’s market that you have never tried. It’s inspiring…

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Do the Dairy

When you’re trying to think of a healthy and filling snack, fiber always seems to come to mind. Yes, fiber is wonderful and all that, but it’s not your only option. Enter yogurt. It’s good, it’s creamy, it’s filling, and provides you with some much-needed calcium! Dairy can get a bad wrap sometimes, for its potentially high fat and high sugar content. However, if you know how to do it right, dairy is a superstar snack for your gut and your bones!

Why have you done a good thing?

Choosing dairy as your snack is a great way to get extra calcium into your diet, which is important for women and men. Calcium helps you develop and maintain strong bones, preventing fractures and osteoporosis. In addition, calcium may play a preventative role in some nutrition-related diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The DASH diet, which is a research-proven way to effectively lower blood pressure includes having adequate calcium daily. Plus, eating dairy as a snack usually means that you are eating a protein-filled snack, so it will keep you full for longer.  Most dairy products also have vitamin D, a key vitamin that helps us to absorb calcium and aids in maintaining our bone strength, among many other key bodily functions.

What should I snack on?

Yogurt (try Stonyfield Farm non-fat varieties)
Greek yogurt (Try Chobani, Fage, Oikos- all the different non-fat or 1% kinds!)
Frozen yogurt (nonfat or low-fat) – Yago Greek Yogurt Pops or Stonyfield Oikos Frozen Greek Yogurt
Cottage cheese (try Friendship 1% Fit to Go Cottage Cheese or Breakstone’s 2% Low-fat Cottage Cheese)
Drink an 8oz glass of non-fat or 1% milk
Low-fat cheese (try Alpine Lace Swiss, Babybell varieties or Trader Joe’s Low Moisture Part-skim Mozzarella Light String Cheese)

Try adding one dairy snack into your daily routine- your bones will thanks you!

Still not getting enough calcium? Try fortified almond or soy milk, sardines, tofu, almonds, bok choy, edamame or soybeans, and green leafy vegetables, and artichokes are also good sources.

Do I need a calcium supplement?

Think about your diet, in general. Do you eat the foods listed above on a daily basis? Do you eat 2 servings of dairy per day? Do you have enough vitamin D in your system to allow for the calcium to be absorbed? It is always great to get what you need primarily from your diet, but if you have a hunch that you might not get enough, talk to your doctor or dietitian about your vitamin D levels and adding a calcium supplement into your diet.

Happy snacking J

--Samantha Jacobs, MS RD CDN