Thursday, March 26, 2009


I read a very interesting article published in the Diet & Nutrition section of MSNBC online news website and I thought I should highlight a few very promising and exciting research in the world of nutrition.

Açaí Berry Extract FRAUD

Thought you should know that this, like many other Weight Loss Scams are just that...SCAMS! If you ever anticipate weight loss to be this easy, it will be your first step to failure.;_ylt=AiGbzaaXPs.sOkiu7yTqcnsazJV4?rn=3906861&cl=12619212&ch=4226720&src=news

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cooking Basics

I know for many people cooking doesn't come easy. As a matter of fact, for many of you, it is a chore and it's the the time of day you loathe. Maybe, it's because you just don't know the basics. Being comfortable in the kitchen is displayed best when you begin to experiment. I have decided to share with you some of my favorite flavor layers, tips, and basic techniques in the kitchen.
  1. There is no need to measure. Just "guestimate."
  2. Don't be afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes, the best flavors are discovered by making mistakes in the kitchen.
  3. Take your time! If you are a slow cooker, start way in advance. No need to rush.
  4. Start with the most complicated and longer cooking foods first.
  5. If you are making a side of rice, make sure you start cooking it first.
  6. Always preheat the oven before you use it. Let the oven wait on you...not the other way around.
  7. Simple is best. There is no need to complicate cooking.
  8. The best meals have enough spice, heat, and sweetness.
How to Saute
  1. Make sure your pan is hot
  2. Use an extra wide pan
  3. Use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) alone or combine with butter. Normally, 2 turns around the pan of EVOO would be enough.
  4. To check if pan is hot enough, dip the end of a wooden spoon in the oil. If bubbles form around the spoon immediately, it is ready. If the oil is smoking, the pan is too hot.
  5. Add the protein (meat, chicken). Spread out in an even layer. Do not touch. Turn heat to medium high. Turn after 3 minutes if in cubes. Turn after 4-5 minutes if whole.
  6. If you are using vegetables, keep heat medium high. If it begins to turn brown, turn the heat down.

How to Blanch
  1. Fill pot half way with water. Bring to boil. Add salt. Make sure to add salt after water has boiled. If you add it before, it will increase the boiling point of water and you will have to wait longer for it to boil.
  2. Add vegetables (e.g. broccoli, asparagus, etc.). Leave vegetables in for 30-60 seconds. Remove, drain. Serve.
  1. This is probably one of the mostly used techniques in cooking. It is the best way to lock in color and flavor. No body wants to eat white chicken, right?
  2. Heat EVOO and butter or just EVOO in a wide pan. Bring to smoking point. Add meat. Let it sit without touching it. Keep the heat high.
  3. Turn after 2-3 minutes. A nice brown color will appear. This will promote the best flavors.
  4. Continue to cook in liquid or in the oven.
Basics of stews
  1. Heat pan and Evoo. Add carrots, celery, and onion and sweat them on med-low heat for 3-5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove vegetables.
  2. Turn heat to high and add protein. Brown. Add sweat vegetables and other vegetables if desired.
  3. Layer flavors with water/wine/stock. Make sure it is enough liquid to cover vegetables/protein. Cover and bring to boil. Simmer for at least 30 minutes so that flavors can marry. If you are using a tough cut of meat, make sure to keep it on the fire for more than 30 minutes.
Basic Flavor Layers for Chicken
  1. Salt, pepper, thyme
  2. salt, pepper, thyme, garlic
  3. salt, lemon pepper
  4. Salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, oregano
  5. Soy sauce, pepper, pineapple juice, brown sugar or honey
Basic Flavor Layers for Beef
  1. Salt, pepper, pepper flakes
  2. Red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic
  3. Salt, pepper
  4. Red wine, salt, pepper, garlic
  5. Worchestershire sauce, pepper, salt
  6. Salt, pepper, pineapple juice, brown sugar
Basic Flavor Layers for Shrimp
  1. Salt, pepper
  2. Salt, pepper
  3. Salt, pepper, garlic, butter
  4. Salt, pepper, garlic, lemon, butter, parsley
Note: Add lemon or lime juice to the pan at the end of cooking time. Do not allow it to boil. If you do, it will turn bitter.

Best Ways to Cook Vegetables
  1. Blanch
  2. Steam
  3. Roast
  4. Grill
Basic Gravy
  1. Heat pan. Add EVOO and butter or just EVOO.
  2. Bring to smoking.
  3. Add protein and sear or saute.
  4. Remove protein.
  5. Bring heat up to high.
  6. Add a few turns around the pan of white wine or red wine. This might cause a flame. Be careful. Turn heat to medium high. With a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add twice as much stock or water. Simmer. Add salt/pepper to taste.
  8. At the end, add a small pat of butter to make it shiny.

Basic Thickening Agents
  1. Flour and water. Add 2 Tbsp of flour and add water until it looks like milk. Make sure to mix well to get rid of all the lumps.
  2. Add to simmering liquids such as gravies and mix.
  3. The same can be applied by using cornstarch and water.
  4. Do not add lemon or lime juice when you are thickening gravies. It will not thicken. Add the citrus when thickening has been completed.

Guilt Free Dessert Recipes

If you are like me, you'll know that at the end of a long day and a nice dinner, there is always room for something sweet. Most desserts out there are either: high in fat & calories, low in fat and high in sugar, or sugar free and high in fat. How can we get our fix without jeopardizing our efforts of the day? Try these recipes below and you too can beat the system. They are some of my favorites that I have collected from great chefs over the years. Happy Cooking!

Yogurt and Fruit Parfait (approx 200 calories per serving)
Jamel Drake
Yields 1 serving

1 cup fat-free vanilla flavored yogurt
1 Tbsp fat free whipped cream
15-10 chopped berries
Sprinkle of granola

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!

Blueberry Coffee Cake (210 calories per square)
Ellie Krieger

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or plain whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup fresh blueberries

Cream butter and sugar together. Add one egg at a time to make sure they are well incorporated. Add vanilla and mix well. Then, incorporate non-fat plain yogurt. Mix well and set aside. In another bowl, mix all purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, salt together. Add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 2 stages. Mix well to incorporate and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine white sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon.

Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. Add 1/2 of the cake batter to the pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle 1/2 of the nutty crumb mixture and a cup of fresh blueberries on top of the first layer of cake batter. Add the rest of batter and spread evenly. Add the rest of the crumb mixture on top. Bake 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes. Cool, unmold, and cut into 12 even squares. Enjoy!

Poached Pears (260 calories per pear)
Ellie Krieger

Yields 4 servings

2 cups dry red wine
1/4 cup plus 2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
3 1-inch strips orange zest
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
4 ripe pears

In a saucepan, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Peel pears in the meantime making sure to leave the stem intact. Slice 1/2-inch off the bottom of the pears to create a flat bottom. Gently place pears in poaching liquid, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color, until pears are cooked but still firm. Remove saucepan from flame, uncover and cool with pears upright. Once cool, cover and chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally, if desired. Gently remove pears from liquid and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, reduce liquid by about half over a medium-high flame for 15 minutes, until liquid is thicker and slightly syrupy. Remove from flame and let liquid come to room temperature. Drizzle each pear with 2 tablespoons syrup and serve.

Pumpkin Flan (100 calories per flan)
Ellie Krieger
Yields 8 servings

2/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup solid-pack pumpkin

Spray 8 (4 oz) ramikins lightly with cooking spray. Arrange ramekins inside a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.

In a small saucepan, heat 1/3 cup sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar melts and forms a medium-brown caramel, about 7 minutes. Working quickly, transfer 2 teaspoons of the caramel to each of the ramekins, swirling as soon as you spoon in the caramel (it will harden quickly). Set aside.

Combine milk and evaporated milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until warm. Reduce heat to a low simmer and keep milk warm. Meanwhile, bring about 4 cups water to a boil and keep hot. Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Fold pumpkin into egg mixture. Then fold into evaporated milk. Divide filling among ramekins, then place baking sheet in oven. Pour hot water into baking pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until flan is just set. Let cool. Place a dessert plate on top of each ramekin and invert; flan should slide out, and syrup should flow onto sides of the dish.

Fresh Raspberry Mousse Almond Crumb Cake (250 calories per serving)
Fitness Magazine

Yields 8 servings

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces (1/2 package) light cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup raspberry jam or preserves (preferably seedless)
3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces) fresh raspberries (optional)
3 tablespoons (5/8 ounce) sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or potato masher or knife until crumbly. Reserve 1/2 cup for later use.

Add yogurt, vanilla and almond extracts, egg, baking powder, and baking soda to mixture. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until blended. Pour into 8-inch-round nonstick baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and jam; beat at low speed until blended. Spread evenly over batter. Top with reserved flour mixture, sprinkling of raspberries (optional) and almonds.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until edges are browned and center is nearly set. Cool on a rack. Refrigerate 3 hours, or until well chilled. Cut into 8 wedges.

Guilt Free Double Chocolate Brownies (111 calories per brownie)
Fitness Magazine

Yields 16 brownies

tablespoons butter
cup granulated sugar
cup cold water
teaspoon vanilla
cup all-purpose flour
cup unsweetened cocoa powder
teaspoon baking powder
cup mini semisweet chocolate pieces
teaspoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the bottom of a 9-x-9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. In a medium saucepan, melt butter; remove from heat. Stir in sugar, water, and vanilla. Mix in flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder until combined. Add chocolate pieces. Pour batter into pan; bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

How to Read a Food Label

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has prepared a web page for the public to learn how to read a food label. I encourage you to take advantage of this powerful tool. Learning the ins and outs of the food label will help you make quick, informative, and better food choices. Please follow the link below for more information.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dining out Tips

Tired of leaving a restaurant and feeling like you've just wasted your entire week at the gym? If you follow my tips, you will still enjoy your dining experience out and feel great when you leave.

  1. Order from the appetizer menu and order a side salad. Ask them to put the dressing on the side.
  2. Drink a glass of milk, water, or have a serving of low-fat/fat free yogurt before you leave the house to go to the restaurant.
  3. Ask for a doggy bag at the beginning of the meal. Cut your portion in half and take it home. Being a part of the clean your plate club is over rated.
  4. Share an entree with a friend.
  5. Always ask for your poultry to be cooked the following ways: steamed, poached, roasted, broiled, boiled, grilled, or baked.
  6. If you are a beef eater, choose lean cuts like flank or loin.
  7. Ask for your side entrees to be broiled or roasted instead of fried.
  8. Beware of the buzz words creamy, buttered, au-gratin, breaded, alfredo, battered, or gravy. These pack a heavy punch in calories.
  9. If you must have the 3 layered chocolate cake, ask for extra spoons so your friends can help you out.
  10. Drink lots of water during your meal.
  11. Avoid the bread bowl on the table. If you must, moderation is key!
  12. If you know you will go out to eat tonight, eat smaller meals that normal throughout the day but make sure you are not famished so that by the time dinner time comes along, you suck it up like a sieve.
  13. If you feel you might over eat the hors d'oeuvres, don't sit near them!
  14. Choose mineral water or diet instead of alcoholic beverages, or at least alternate them slowly.
  15. Eat slowly.
  16. Try to eat the same portion as you would at home.
  17. Choose fish or poultry when you can.
  18. Order your baked potato plain. Ask for the extras on the side. Use sparingly.
  19. Keep the ground rules of nutrition in mind. Eat a variety of foods in moderate amounts, limit the amount of fat you eat, and be mindful of the amount of salt.
  20. Keep in mind that an average fast food meal can run as high as 1000 calories or more.
  21. If you are having fast food for one meal, let your other meals that day contain healthier foods, like fruits/vegetables.
  22. Limit bacon and sausage.
  23. Watch out for words like jumbo, giant, deluxe, biggie-sized, super-sized. Order regular or junior size instead.
  24. Skip the croissant or biscuit. Eat your sandwich on a bun, bread, or English muffin.
  25. Salads can carry alot of calories. It's all in the dressing.
  26. Potato and macaroni salads are loaded with fat.
  27. Pizza can be a good fast food choice. Go for thin crust always with vegetable toppings. Limit 1-2 slices.
  28. Watch out for traps. Fat free muffins are normally loaded with sugar. Skinless fried chicken can have as much fat as regular. Chinese food may seem like a healthy choice, but many foods are deep fried, high in fat and sodium.
  29. Turkey is healthier than ham.

Portion Sizes

I apologize for being MIA these past days. I've been crazy busy. Anyhow, I received emails from a few friends with suggestions for topics to blog about. So, here is the first one!

Portion Sizes

  1. Cooked pasta or oatmeal = 1/3- 1/2 cup
  2. Bread = 1 slice
  3. Crackers = 6 squares
  4. Bagel = 1/2 whole
  5. Pancakes = 1 (4 inches across, 1/4 inch thick)
  6. Pita = 1/2 of a 6 inch whole
  7. Corn or flour tortilla (6 inch across) = 1
  8. Couscous = 1/3 cup
  9. Cooked rice = 1/3 cup
  10. Grits = 1/2 cup
  11. Baked beans = 1/3 cup
  12. Corn kernels = 1/2 cup
  13. Corn on the cob = 1/2 large
  14. Plantain = 1/2 cup
  15. Potato baked with skin = 1/4 large (3 ozs)
  16. Mashed potato = 1/2 cup
  17. Hummus = 1/3 cup
  18. Snack chips (potato or tortilla) = 9-13 pieces
  19. Dried fruit = 1/4 cup
  20. Mixed berries, cherries, or cubed cantelope = 1 cup
  21. 100% fruit juice = 1/2 cup
  22. Pear, or banana = 1 small
  23. Apple or orange = 1 small (about the size of a tennis ball)
  24. Cooked carrots = 1/2 cup
  25. Raw leafy vegetables = 2 cups
  26. Raw vegetables, chopped = 1 cup
  27. Chopped, cooked or canned vegetables = 1/2 cup
  28. Grapes = 17 count
  29. Low-fat cheddar cheese = 2 oz or the size of 2 dominoes
  30. Low-fat or fat free milk or yogurt = 1 cup
  31. Part-skim mozarella cheese = 1 1/2 oz or about 1/3 cup shredded
  32. Cooked fish or chicken breast = 3 oz or the size of a deck of cards
  33. Cooked lean meat = 1 1/2 oz (half of a deck of cards)
  34. Cooked beans or lentils = 1/2 cup or about the size of an ice cream scoop
  35. Egg = 1 medium
  36. Angel food cake = 2 oz (about 1/12 cake)
  37. Brownie small, unfrosted = 2 inch square
  38. Cake frosted = 2 inch square
  39. Doughnut, glazed = 3 3/4 inch across (2 oz)
  40. Fruit spread = 1 1/2 Tbsp
  41. Honey = 1 Tbsp
  42. Ice cream = 1/2 cup
  43. Jam or jelly regular = 1 Tbsp
  44. Spaghetti sauce or pasta sauce, canned = 1/2 cup
Use a smaller plate every time u eat and drink a glass of water at each meal....I promise, you will be better able to control your portions.

All in moderation

Portion control is a useful tool to help you maintain a healthy weight. If you replace high calorie foods with low calorie ones (fruits/vegetables), you'll get the nutrients you need, feel satisfied and reduce the number of calories you consume.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Happy RD Day!

Happy RD Day to all registered dietitians! Celebrating 40 years of the RD credential!

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) has been invited –- representing all members of our Association -– to ring the Opening Bell for the NASDAQ stock exchange, the largest electronic equities exchange in the United States, on Thursday, March 12, in recognition of National Nutrition Month and Registered Dietitian Day. The president of the ADA will be joined by a number of ADA members who live in the New York area, and he will deliver some short remarks prior to officially starting the NASADAQ trading day.

The president of the American Dietetic Association will talk about the great work members of the ADA do in health care, foodservice operations, worksite wellness programs, client and patient counseling, scientific research and more. He will highlight our members’ involvement in National Nutrition Month activities throughout the country; and he will promote Registered Dietitian Day, recognizing RDs’ contributions in workplaces and communities and our dedication to optimizing the nation’s health through food and nutrition.

The NASDAQ Opening Bell ceremony is broadcast live at 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time on CNBC and C-SPAN, and on NASDAQ’s Web site at:
The ceremony is broadcast live and is not archived, so it is important to watch it in real time.

The ceremony is also broadcast on video screens in Times Square; ADA’s name and logo will be on NASDAQ’s Times Square tower all day Thursday with the message “The Stock Exchange Welcomes the American Dietetic Association.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Keep Healthy During These Economically Hard Times

These days it seems like our hopes and dreams for fitness/health are slipping away and even harder to attain. During these economically hard times, we have more time but less money. Fast food seems like a decent option: it's fast, easy, convenient, and most important, CHEAP--but not at the expense of our waistlines. The truth is, staying fit during these times is not impossible. With a little bit of ingenuity and minimal effort, your body will thank you.

  • Farmer's markets are a great find. Produce is cheaper especially since you don't have to pay for extra overhead as you would at a supermarket
  • Choose fruits/vegetables in season
  • Buy in bulk especially non-perishables and meat. You pay less per pound each time and storage is not a hassle. Portion bulk packages into freezer bags for easy thawing/cooking. Remember to avoid buying meat that is already season. They are usually way more expensive. Season it yourself!
  • Look out for sales. We don't realize how much money you can save by looking out for sales. Coupons are a great way to take advantage of good deals. Coupon Suzy, I have found, is quite helpful.
  • Keep the pasta/rice/potato to a reasonable portion. Not because they are cheap means they should make up most of your plate. Try frozen/canned (low-sodium) vegetable options for a good side if you simply can't afford fresh.
  • The truth of the matter is, eating fresh foods is not as expensive as you think. Try buying produce by the bag instead of individually. You will always get a better price.
  • Plan your meals for the week and try to incorporate similar fresh ingredients in another meal for that week.
  • Buy less processed foods and your bill will go down! For instance, instead of buying parboiled boxed rice, buy bags of raw rice.
  • Buy store brands when appropriate. Usually, they are just as good and cost way less.
  • There is no need to go to Starbucks for coffee! Make it yourself! (trust me, this is not a sin... smile). Not only will you save yourself money but you control the calories!
  • Sometimes, replace the meat in your meals with other protein foods such as eggs or beans
  • Filter your own tap water! Not only will you save money but you will be help save the environment.
  • Instead of buying 100 calorie snacks, buy a big bag and portion it yourself in a baggie
  • Experiment in the kitchen and make a date out of it rather than eating out!
Physical Activity
  • Take advantage of the extra time on your hands if you are unemployed and get moving!
  • Walk to the grocery store if it's not too far away
  • Park as far as you can from your destination
  • Climb the stairs for 15 minutes during your lunch break (you can burn up to 150 calories in 15 minutes)
  • Avoid the elevators and take the stairs. Burn calories, not electricity!
  • Walk, walk, walk and enjoy nature. Mix it up with a little jogging here and there
  • Do laundry lifts! I know this sounds funny but I promise your arms will thank you. Hold the basket above your head, lift and lower.
  • While your doing dishes, do some calf raises. Step to your toes and down again. Repeat.
  • Put on your favorite music and dance in your living room with your hubby or by yourself.