Thursday, December 29, 2011

4 keys to staying well during cold and flu season

Image Credit:  William Brawley (Flickr)
We're smack dab in the middle of cold and flu season, and I'm sure that you'd like to avoid catching the bug, right?  Aside from practicing good hygiene, there are four key lifestyle behaviors that have been determined to be true guardians of health during this time of year.  Practice these behaviors and you'll better protect yourself from the misery of cold and flu season.

Eat enough nutrient-dense, immune-supportive foods.
One of the first lines of defense against cold and flu season starts in the grocery cart.  Make sure that you're including plenty of nutrient-dense, immune-supportive foods that will bolster your immune system.  What foods are these?  Eat fish for vitamin D, which helps regulate the immune system.  Include a variety of produce, especially citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, winter squash, and dark leafy greens, for immunoprotective vitamins A and C.  Also be sure to incorporate high quality meat and dried beans for protein, iron, and zinc, which help the immune system function at its best.  For more information on foods that support a strong immune system, check out this blog post that I wrote last year.

Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
When we sleep, the body's immune system recharges.  The release of infection-fighting cytokines from the immune system surges during sleep.  When we are sleep-deprived, the levels of cytokines and other immune-supportive cells in the body declines.  In fact, one study found that individuals who slept less than seven hours each night were nearly three times more likely to develop colds than those who slept at least eight hours or more.  So make sleep a priority!

Manage stress effectively.
Short-term, long-term, real or perceived, the body does not discriminate against the type of stress we experience.  When we experience stress, a cascade of biochemical reactions that lower the body's immune function begins.  When stress becomes chronic, the immune system becomes weaker.  While we cannot completely eliminate all sources of stress, we certainly can find ways to better manage it.  In fact, relaxation actually boosts certain activities of the immune system, including sending more infection-fighting cells into action in the bloodstream.  Remember that relaxation is not necessarily 'doing nothing', but rather, it is a learned behavior.  For more tips on managing stress effectively, check out this  advice from the American Psychological Association.

Perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on 5+ days of the week.
Studies have found that exercise may boost the number and function of certain cells of the immune system.  Investigators also believe that exercise enhances the transport of these cells throughout the body making them more effective at eradicating the bacteria and viruses responsible for the cold and flu.  One study detected a 46% lower frequency of colds for participants that exercised at least 5 days a week compared to those who were sedentary.   Another investigation observed that women who performed 45 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 days a week experienced 50% fewer colds than women in the control group who stretched daily.  While getting enough exercise is essential, keep in mind that performing prolonged or intense exercise can actually depress the body's immune system.  If you participate in these types of activities, such as marathons or ultra-endurance events, adequate recovery time is vital and make sure to practice the other lifestyle behaviors listed above.

What are your best strategies for practicing these behaviors?  What behaviors would you add to this list?  

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Foodie Friday: Simple Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Simple Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
As we've coasted through this holiday season, I've been hearing people sharing about their holiday baking traditions.  Baking was never a tradition in my home growing up, so the holiday tradition never really caught on with me.  Don't get me wrong. I do bake every now and then, and I do enjoy baked goodies on occasion.  I'm just not much of a baker.  With that said, I was in the mood to make some homemade goodies for the fam a few months ago.  This was a little tricky though because of my son's eczema, which is triggered by food allergy/intolerances.  Imagine trying to make a baked goodie that doesn't include cow's milk, tree nuts, or wheat.  This was a challenge, but I finally stumbled on this recipe for cookie dough made with chickpeas.  Chickpeas?  Yes, chickpeas (aka, garbanzo beans), the stuff you make hummus with.  And yes, forget the whole baking part, too.  I told you I wasn't much of a baker.  If I'm being honest, eating the cookie dough has probably always been my favorite part of making cookies anyway.  Unfortunately, that's not so good given that it can be a potential source of food poisoning.  This recipe looked promising since it didn't have food allergy/intolerance triggers and I could make modifications where needed.  This turned out to be a hit with my kids.  They love helping me make it, and of course, they love to eat it.  Even my very skeptical husband agreed that it was 'pretty good'.  Plus, you don't have to worry about food poisoning because there are no raw eggs in this.  The use of chickpeas also amplifies the nutritional value of this cookie cough, giving it a boost in protein and fiber along with a few other essential nutrients.  Give this one a shot and let me know what you think.

Simple Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Adapted from: Chocolate-Covered Katie, May 2011

1 - 15 oz can chickpeas or garbanzo beans (about 1 1/2 cups, drained and rinsed)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (I make my own using this recipe. Do it. You won't regret it.)
1/4 cup nut butter (I would use almond, but to avoid the nuts, I use sunflower seed butter.)
up to 1/4 cup coconut milk (You could also use almond milk.)
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (I prefer at least 70% cacao.)

1.  Place chickpeas, vanilla, nut butter, coconut milk, and maple syrup into a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  
2.  Remove the cookie dough to a bowl.  Mix in the chocolate chips and enjoy.  You can also use the cookie dough as a dip for fresh fruit slices, like apples, for something different.

Serves:  8 (approximately 1/3-1/2 cup servings)
Nutritional Information:  
Calories:  162   Carbohydrate:  22 g   Protein: 5 g   Fat:  10 g   Cholesterol: 0 mg   Fiber:  3 g   Sugar:  10 g Sodium:  41 mg   
Good source of:  folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc

Images Copyright: Michelle Loy - Go Wellness
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Monday, November 28, 2011

3 reasons to make physical activity a priority during the holidays

Commit to be fit this holiday season.  Photo credit: o5com via Flickr
Congratulations on surviving yet another post-Thanksgiving food coma.  If you are one of those people who finds it hard to get back on track with eating and physical activity after said food coma, then I challenge you to consider moving one thing to the top of your to-do list this holiday season.  That thing is physical activity.  I see physical activity as a gateway health habit.  When people let it slide to the bottom of their list of priorities, other habits tend to slide as well.  However, when people make physical activity a priority, not only do they stay on top of other health behaviors, but they also tend to score some fantastic deals in terms of their health and well-being, too!  Consider these three excellent reasons to commit to regular physical activity during the holidays.

Prevent holiday weight gain.  While holiday weight gain is common for many Americans, it is not necessarily inevitable.  Researchers have found that people who have successfully managed their weight long-term rarely deviate from their regular exercise routine throughout the year, including during the holidays.  Not only does exercise help stoke your body's metabolic furnace to burn more calories, but it also appears to help physically active people curb their food intake.

Manage stress.  Exercise is one of the best prescriptions for stress.  The holidays definitely present the opportunity for more stress from increasingly busy social calendars to additional responsibilities at work and more travel.  While you can't necessarily eliminate every source of stress in your life during the holidays, you certainly can include more ways to better manage it.  When you exercise, the body gets an amazing dose of natural feel-good chemicals, including serotonin and endorphins.  Exercise also allows you the opportunity to take a break from the stress in your life and just let it go. What once mattered before may not be as significant after a good workout.  

Boost energy levels.  With a fuller schedule and more stress, you may find that your energy levels may take a serious beating during the holidays.  While sipping more coffee or Red Bulls may seem like an easy way to to charge up your battery, it's not the ideal way to go to reduce the sluggishness.  I know that exercise may be one of the last things on your mind when it comes to feeling fatigued, but studies have suggested individuals that engage in regular physical activity tend to report higher energy levels and less fatigue than sedentary individuals.  So during those times when you just don't feel like it, do it any way.  Remind yourself of how great you'll feel afterwards.  Most of the time, the only workout you'll ever regret is the one that you don't do.

We're all gifted with 1440 minutes every single day.  Honor your body and honor your health by devoting at least 30 of those minutes to movement.  Believe me, your body WILL thank you for it.  What will you do to ramp up your physical activity during the holidays?     
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Foodie Friday: Roasted and Pureed Cauliflower

Roasted and Pureed Cauliflower

I have a confession. I love mashed potatoes.  They have been a favorite dish of mine ever since I was a little girl, and I'm pretty sure I'll always enjoy them.  It's probably the Midwestern part of me that's responsible for that.  When it comes to the holidays, mashed potatoes are also one of my favorite holiday foods, but last Christmas I decided to take a mashed potato detour.  Yes, this bona fide mashed potato lover skipped prepping the taters.  Instead, I opted for something different but with the same flair.  That option was Roasted and Pureed Cauliflower by the charismatic Food Network star, Guy Fieri.  I'd made this dish several times before, so I knew the fam liked it.  Plus, I wanted to make sure to prepare a balanced meal, which means lots of lovely nutrient-rich veggies!  If you're up for a mashed potato detour this Thanksgiving, then give this dish a shot.  It's simple, delicious, and could prove to be a new favorite for you, too.  Enjoy!

Roasted and Pureed Cauliflower
Adapted from: Guy Fieri, Guy's Big Bite, 2008 -   

{Print this recipe}
2 heads cauliflower, core removed and cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups 2% milk (I've also modified this recipe using coconut milk for my dairy sensitive son. It worked perfectly fine.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I've also modified this recipe using Earth Balance Natural Spread for a dairy-free version.)
1/2 bunch chives, minced for garnish

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.
2.  Place 1/4 of the florets in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and season with salt.  Bake until caramelized, about 25 minutes.
3.  While the florets are baking, place the remaining cauliflower, milk, and half teaspoon of salt in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring the ingredients to a simmer, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 20-25 minutes.
4.  Strain the cauliflower from the milk mixture, saving both the milk and cauliflower.
5.  Transfer the cauliflower to a blender.  Add a half teaspoon of salt and the butter to the blender.  Then add about 1/4 of the remaining milk to the blender.  Puree until smooth.  If the puree is too thick, add more milk for a thinner consistency.  Season to taste. Serve in a large bowl topped with the roasted cauliflower florets and chives.

Serves: 8
Nutritional Information:
Calories:  105   Carbohydrate:  14 g   Protein:  6 g   Fat:  4 g   Cholesterol:  7 mg   Fiber:  6 g   Sodium:  380 mg
Excellent source of: riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin C
Good source of:  thiamin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Blog: Simple substitutions for healthier holiday food

Today's guest blog post is written by Vanessa Bautista, Dietetic Intern with Oakwood University.  Thanks for sharing with us, Vanessa!

Vanessa with Martha Stewart
A week ago, I was beyond delighted to meet Martha Stewart at Macy’s South Coast Plaza.  Martha Stewart and her deputy food editor of Martha Stewart Living, Sarah Carey, teamed up to create a seafood stew.  After they made their version of the dish crew members passed out a pre-made version.  Not surprisingly, the stew that everyone tried was not the actual stew that Martha made.  During the question and answers segment an audience member pointed out that the version the audience received was somewhat spicier then what the recipe had call for and asked what the difference was.  Martha’s response was that there might have been a little more pepper added to the audience recipe sample. And that’s when it happened.  It dawned on me. “Not all recipes are the same!”  So I decided to gather up all my guts and wits and ask, “Since the recipe taste a little bit different, could I try the stew that you made?”  Martha Stewart’s version turned out to be much better!  Besides getting to tell you about this exciting experience, the fact still remains that not all recipes are created equal.  Sure, we all have our family favorites like Uncle Danny’s surprisingly sweet-sweet potatoes. But this thanksgiving and even Christmas I dare you to get creative like Martha Stewart but in a healthy way.  I have spent way too many holidays watching the ones I love gain weight and try to lose it.  Because of this, I have actually tried many ingredient substitutions not only during the holidays but also throughout the year.  So this holiday season do yourself and your family a favor.  Try some of these amazing substitutes to reduce sugar and fat and increase the nutrient and phytochemical composition in your holiday dishes.  And who knows, you might create a new healthy holiday favorite!  Now that’s a good thing!

Original Ingredient:
Health Benefit:
Milk Chocolate
All or half of recipe for 70% cocoa or higher dark chocolate
More flavonoids (a heart protecting antioxidant) higher cocoa content the better
Iceberg Lettuce
Romaine lettuce in salads
More folate, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C than iceberg variety
1 Cup All-Purpose flour
½ whole wheat in recipes
Increases fiber content in recipes
Sour cream
Greek yogurt on baked potatoes or dip recipes
More protein and calcium and less saturated fat
1 Full Cup of regular sugar
½ Cup of regular sugar in baked goods recipes
50% reduction in sugar in recipe

2 Tablespoons butter
1-1/2 Tablespoons Extra light tasting olive oil for sautéing
Lower in cholesterol and saturated fat

1 Cup butter
¾ Cups extra light tasting olive oil for baked goods such as cookies
Lower in cholesterol and saturated fat

A good thing!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Foodie Friday: Apple Chips

Apple Chips ©Michelle Loy - Go Wellness
When I think of fall foods, apples definitely come to mind.  They just somehow fit in perfectly with the foods, herbs, and spices traditional to this season.  If you've ever wondered if the old proverb "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." holds any truth, then wonder no more.  It does!  Apples assume a great deal of nutritional and health-yielding power with their high content of phytochemicals and nutrients, such as vitamin C and fiber.  In fact, numerous studies have suggested that people who regularly eat apples tend to have lower risks for chronic diseases, including certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.  When you eat apples, make sure to eat the peel because that's where much of the antioxidant activity is concentrated.

Heirloom apples - ©Michelle Loy - Go Wellness
Inspired by this post at Meandering Eats, I decided to take a shot at making my own apple chips.  These are super easy and definitely one the kids have enjoyed helping me make.  We've recently enjoyed using some gorgeous red and green heirloom apples for this tasty treat.  Using naturally sweet apples is best, and there's no need to add any extra sugar.  I hope you try it and enjoy!

Apple Chips

{Print this recipe}
3 naturally sweet apples, like Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious or others
Cinnamon for sprinkling

©Michelle Loy - Go Wellness
1.  Preheat oven to 225F.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. (I definitely do not recommend skipping this step. I've tried it without the parchment paper before, and the apples just stick to the baking sheet.  Talk about frustrating!)
2.  Using a mandolin or knife, slice the apples across the width of the apple.  The thinner the slices, the quicker they'll bake and the more crispy the chips will turn out.
3.  Place the slices into one single layer onto the baking sheets.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake for about 2 hours.  It may take less time if the apple slices are thin or more time if the slices are thicker.  Flip them over once halfway through the baking process.  Once they're done baking, remove them from the oven and let them cool completely.  Enjoy!

Serves:  3-6
Nutritional Information:
Calories:  74   Carbohydrate:  20 g   Protein:  0.4 g   Fat:  0 g   Cholesterol:  0 mg   Fiber:  4 g   Sugar (natural): 14 g   Sodium:  1.5 mg
Good source of: vitamin C

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Friday, October 28, 2011

3 Strategies for Preventing Holiday Weight Gain

I just returned from my daughter's Halloween celebration at preschool and I am reminded that we are embarking on National Eating Season. This is the parade of food that begins with Halloween and wraps up with Super Bowl Sunday.  Following this season of eating, many Americans find themselves a little bit heavier.   Even with the best of intentions and New Year's resolutions come January, research tells us that the weight gained during this time is often not lost again.

I understand how easy it can be to gain weight during the holidays with the barrage of all the unique food offerings of the season from the pumpkin spice lattes to Grandma's special apple pie to the egg nog.  At the same time, I also know how important maintaining health, well-being, and an optimal quality of life is for so many people.  Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels, right?   This is why I think it's vital to be proactive and make plans right now to prevent holiday weight gain.  So I thought I'd share three solid strategies to help you get started on that today.

Put your goals in writing.
While it's definitely a step in the right direction to make a mental note that you'd like to maintain a healthy weight this holiday season, I believe that writing down your goals will only increase your chances of success.  As you consider your goals for the season, be sure to make them SMART - specfiic, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive.  If the goal is to maintain or even lose weight, then be sure to consider the behaviors that are needed to do that.  What will you need to change in regards to food intake, physical activity, or stress management to achieve your weight management goal?  

Monitor your food intake and physical activity.
In my professional experience, I've seen what a powerful tool monitoring food intake and physical activity can be for those who want to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.  My clients understand the value of this, too, and almost always identify this as a strategy that helps them stay on track.  The evidence also suggests that those who regularly monitor their health-related behaviors during the holidays are better able to manage their weight during that time, too.

Practice mindful eating.
It is very easy to eat mindlessly during the holidays.  Food is everywhere!  People can also be more distracted while they eat during the holidays whether it's socializing at a party or watching the game on t.v.  If they eat while doing these other activities, they may not be fully engaged in the eating experience.  Practicing mindful eating during the holidays essentially means that you regularly check in with your mind and body throughout the eating experience.  Are you hungry?  Is the food pleasing to you?  Is food really what you want right now? Mindful eating helps create a more peaceful and pleasurable eating experience. It will also help you stay more in tune with your body so that you can naturally attain or maintain a healthier body weight.

So, in addition to planning which parties to attend and what gifts to give, I challenge you to also consider putting successful weight management on your holiday radar this season.  Choose a life of health. You deserve it!

Photo credit:  Mark Surman via Flickr

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Foodie Friday: Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash © Michelle Loy, 2011

Did I mention that I'm in love with butternut squash in the fall?  Yes, I have a crush on butternut squash right now.  I'd label this dish as a comfort food side dish.  It's got bacon's cousin, pancetta, in it, so it only makes sense, right?  When I first tried this out on my family, they ALL loved it.  So it's definitely going into my special recipe binder as a permanent keeper.  It's not a lot of work with the exception of cutting up the squash and pancetta.  If you're not a pro at peeling and cutting squash, check out this simple how-to from Simply Recipes.  It'll definitely streamline your squash-cutting skills.  If you like the play on salty and sweet with your food, then you may just like this.  If you try it out, let me know how you like it.   Bon appetit!

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash
Adapted from:  Ina Garten,       

{Print this recipe}
1 large butternut squash (about 2-3 pounds), cut into 3/4-1 inch cubes
1 head of garlic, separated but not peeled
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces pancetta, chopped (I usually find this in the deli section of the grocery store.  If you cannot find this, you could substitute bacon, but I'd cook it slightly first.)
16 fresh whole sage leaves or 1 tsp dried sage

1.  Preheat oven to 400F.
2.  Spread the cubed squash and garlic in one layer in a large sheet pan or baking dish.  Toss with the olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until the squash slightly browns, turning once about halfway through.
3.  Sprinkle the pancetta and sage evenly over the squash and garlic.  Bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the squash and garlic soften a little and become slightly caramelized.  Season to taste and serve.

Serves:  6
Nutritional Information:
Calories:  186   Carbohydrate:  27 g   Protein:  3 g   Fat:  9 g   (3 g saturated) Cholesterol:  6 mg    Fiber:  3 g   Sugar:  8 g (4 g added from maple syrup)   Sodium:  264 mg
Excellent source of:  thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and magnesium
Good source of:  omega 3 fatty acids, niacin, folate, calcium, and potassium

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Foodie Friday: Butternut Squash Soup

I've come to love seasonal foods, and one fall food that I am embracing now is the butternut squash.  I love that this winter squash can be prepared so simply and in a variety of ways.  I've found that it is fabulous baked, roasted, grilled, or pureed into soups.  It has a delicate sweetness to it that pairs really well with the season's herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and sage.  Not only does butternut squash taste lovely, but it is also rich in vitamins A and C and is a great source of fiber, thiamin, niacin, vitamins B6 and E, and magnesium.

One of the foods that I find myself gravitating to when the cooler fall weather hits is soup.  This butternut squash soup has a lightly sweet flavor and the nutmeg adds a special fall flair.  If you're looking for a fresh way to incorporate veggies for lunch or dinner, a vegetable and broth-based soup is an excellent way to do so.  Research has also suggested that consuming a hearty vegetable soup before meals can help curb hunger before meals, which may help with weight loss.  Soup is also something that freezes really well, so you can store up several servings in freezer-safe containers to enjoy later on.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from:  Cathy Lowe,

1 (2-3 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil (I use this so that it's dairy-free. You could also use unsalted butter.)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth (You could also use chicken broth.)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Melt the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until it's translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
2.  Add the squash and broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes.
3.  Remove the squash cubes with a slotted spoon.  Place in a blender and puree until smooth.  
4.  Return the pureed squash to the pot.  Stir and season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Serve.

Serves:  6
Nutritional Information:
Calories:  146 calories  Carbohydrate:  30 g   Protein:  3 g   Fat:  3 g   Cholesterol:  0 mg   Fiber:  4 g   Sugar:  8 g (natural)   Sodium:  518 mg
Excellent source of: vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, and potassium
Good source of:  thiamin, niacin, folate, vitamin E, calcium, and iron
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Foodie Friday: Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Vinaigrette

Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Vinaigrette © Michelle Loy - Go Wellness, 2011.
I often feel pretty blessed to live where I do with access to so much fresh produce and seafood year-round.  My husband and I finally finished our stash of Alaskan goodies, so he decided to head to a local fresh fish market that he'd heard about to stock up on more seafood.  One of the fresh goodies that he returned home with included yellowfin tuna, which we have enjoyed in so many ways.  I've found that I like it best simply seared or grilled and served in sandwiches or on salads.  To me, the best sauce and dressing pairings with this fish are those with an Asian flare, like this wasabi-infused vinaigrette.  The vinaigrette is truly what makes this dish.  Yum!

I've experimented with a variety of types of fish, and this is probably one of our family's favorites.  I think it's because it doesn't have a real 'fishy' flavor to it, so this might be a good one to try with those who aren't fans of 'fishy' fish.  I love this seared ahi tuna dish because it's fresh, light, and easy.  Do not fret if you don't have access to fresh tuna as frozen seafood certainly has its benefits, such as less environmental impact and less waste.  Read more about the benefits of frozen seafood in this article from National Geographic.  Thank you to Field to Plate for sharing.  Enjoy!

Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Vinaigrette  
Adapted from: Emeril Lagasse, Food Network

1 lb sushi quality yellowfin (ahi) tuna, cut into 4 steaks about 4 oz each
Freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups of salad greens (eg, mesclun, mixed baby greens, red leaf, romaine, or spinach)
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 cup of other fresh vegetables, such as sliced red onion or cucumber and julienne carrots or bell peppers for more color and flair, if you like.

Ingredients for the dressing:
1 tsp wasabi paste
1/2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1.  Combine the mixed greens, tomatoes, and other vegetables into a large bowl.  
2.  In a small bowl, whisk the wasabi, honey, and vinegar.  Then whisk in the oils to combine the dressing.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.  
3.  Place olive oil into a pan over medium heat.  Season the tuna with salt and freshly ground black pepper on all sides.  Place the tuna steaks in the pan and sear on each side for about 1-2 minutes, depending on how rare you like it.  Remove the tuna from the heat and set aside.  Slice each steak into 1/4" thick slices.    
4.  To serve, place about 1/4 of the mixed green salad onto the center of a dinner plate.  Top with slices of tuna.  Drizzle with the wasabi vinaigrette.  Serve.

Serves:  4
Nutritional Information:
Calories:  456   Carbohydrate:  8 g   Protein:  28 g   Fat:  35 g   Cholesterol:  51 mg  Fiber:  2 g   Sugar:  4.7 g   Sodium:  126 mg   
Excellent source of: thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, B12, C, D, A, E, and magnesium
Good source of:  omega-3 fatty acid, potassium, and zinc            

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Foodie Friday: Rainbow Vegetable and Chicken Soup

Today's Foodie Friday recipe is a special post from Bowling Green State University dietetic intern, Jennifer Michelle, who worked with me during her wellness rotation over the summer.  I thought this would be a great cooler-weather recipe, so here it is for you on the first day of Fall.  Thank you for sharing with us, Jennifer!

Rainbow Vegetable and Chicken Soup
We all know it is important to eat a variety of colorful vegetables to maximize the nutrients in our diet. That is what inspired this light and healthy soup made with vegetables from all the colors of the rainbow. This colorful soup is not only lean and packed with nutrients it is EASY to prepare either in a slow cooker or on the stove top. Eating the rainbow can be easy and delicious!

Rainbow Vegetable and Chicken Soup

2 c boneless skinless chicken breast chopped (1 lb.)
4 c low sodium chicken broth
1 14.5 oz can Italian diced tomatoes
1 c carrot chopped
1 c yellow squash chopped
1 c celery chopped
1 c purple potatoes chopped
1 c red onion chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp poultry seasoning

Slow Cooker Directions:
1. Season chicken with salt pepper and poultry seasoning.
2. In a slow cooker, combine chicken and all remaining ingredients.
3. Cook on high for 3 hours or cook on low for 6 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Stove Top Directions:
1. Season chicken with salt pepper and poultry seasoning.
2. In a large pot, combine chicken and all remaining ingredients.
3. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes then simmer on low for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender.

Serving size: 2 cups, makes 5 servings

Nutritional information:
Calories: 210 Carbohydrate: 20 Fat: 5g Saturated fat: 1g Protein: 20g Cholesterol: 45mg Fiber: 4g Sodium: 944mg
Excellent source of: Vit A, vit C, potassium
Good source of: Folate, B vitamins

Friday, September 16, 2011

Foodie Friday: Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
I may be jumping the gun by introducing this Fall recipe before the official start of Fall, but for me, Fall somehow always starts when school starts.  While I do love Summer, I also love everything that is Fall...colorful, changing leaves, cool, crisp air, football, and comfort food.  A food that says Fall like no other to me is pumpkin.  When I discovered this recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal, I knew I had to give it a shot.  And did you ever think you'd have a veggie in your oatmeal?  This oatmeal is rich, creamy, satisfying, and definitely a true Fall comfort food.  This dish also stores really well in the fridge for a few days, so that you can enjoy it as a quick breakfast or even snack for several days after you make it.  Here's to Fall!  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
Adapted from:  Aarti Sequeira,  

{Print this recipe}
1 (14 oz) can pure pumpkin puree (Make sure it's pure pumpkin and not the sweetened pumpkin pie filling.)
3 cups water
1 cup pure coconut milk
2 Tbsp raisins
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups rolled oats (You could also use steel cut oats.)
1/4 cup pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds)
Honey or pure maple syrup for serving

1.  In a large saucepan, combine the pumpkin puree, water, coconut milk, raisins, salt, and pumpkin pie spice over high heat and bring to a boil.
2.  Add the oats.  Turn the heat down and cook according to the directions for your oatmeal.  This may take 10-20 minutes (or up to 25-30 minutes if using steel cut oats).  Stir frequently.
3.  While the oatmeal is cooking, toast the pepitas in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant and golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.
4.  Once the oatmeal is cooked through, drizzle with honey or maple syrup and sprinkle with pepitas, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Serves:  4
Nutritional Information:
Calories:  349   Carbohydrate:  48 g   Protein:  8.5 g   Fat:  16 g   Cholesterol:  0 mg   Fiber:  8 g   Sugar:  10 g (4 g added)   Sodium:  164 mg
Excellent source of:  thiamin, vitamin A, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Good source of:  riboflavin, vitamin B6, and potassium.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Foodie Friday: Lettuce-wrapped tacos

Lettuce-wrapped tacos - Copyright 2012 Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RD, CSSD - Go Wellness
What do you get when you cross a person who loves to try new recipes with a little guy with newly discovered food allergies and sensitivities?  Me trying even MORE new recipes!  My poor little guy has suffered from eczema for some time, and after conducting a special diet and allergy testing, I've finally discovered that there are several trigger foods.  One of those items includes dairy, which means milk, yogurt, and cheese.  Because of this, I am really going outside of the box to find new ways to create some traditional faves in my home.  That's when I stumbled upon these lettuce-wrapped tacos.  No dairy!  The cabbage slaw adds a nice tangy, sweet flavor and freshness to the 'taco'.  This is the perfect way to 'wrap' up your summer;)  Enjoy!

Lettuce-wrapped Tacos
Adapted from: Everyday Paleo, 2010

{Print this recipe}
Ingredients for Cabbage Slaw:
3 cups red cabbage, chopped
1 cup cucumber, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup mango, diced
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Cracked black pepper to taste

Directions for Cabbage Slaw:
1.  Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Ingredients for Tacos:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper (If you have little ones, you  may want to adjust this to their taste.)
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 cup green salsa
Lettuce leaves, for wrapping (Romaine or green leaf work well.)
Avocado, chopped for topping
Cilantro, chopped for topping

Directions for Tacos:
1.  Brown the ground beef in a medium pan.
2.  Stir in the garlic powder, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and salsa.
3.  Place a small amount of taco filling onto a lettuce leaf.  Top with the cabbage slaw, avocado, and cilantro. Enjoy!

Serves:  4
Nutritional Information:
Calories: 390   Protein:  27 g   Carbohydrate:  17 g   Fat:  25 g   Cholesterol:  63 mg   Fiber:  5 g   Sugar:  8 g   (natural)   Sodium:  205 mg
Excellent source of:  omega-3 fatty acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B6, B12, C, A, and E, iron, and zinc
Good source of:  folate, magnesium, and potassium

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Guest Blog: Crossfit Q & A with Brian McFadden

CrossFit Fever Games 2011 (via Flickr)
Do you CrossFit?  Have you heard of it?  If you haven't heard of it yet, then you will because this form of activity is taking off.  I first learned of it a few years ago because a CrossFit "box" (aka, workout location) had opened up in a garage down the street from my home.  As I looked into it a little more, I learned that this whole CrossFit thing was a whole new workout world to me.  They had their own community with what seemed to be their own language and workouts called names, like "Fran" and "Isabel".  And all I can say is that these workouts look hard core!

I'm fortunate enough to have a friend and colleague, Brian McFadden, owner and fitness trainer at CrossFit iDog in Huntington Beach, CA.  He kindly agreed to a guest Q & A with me so that I could shed a little more light for you on CrossFit.  

In one sentence, how would you describe CrossFit?
CrossFit is a fitness regimen designed using constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements that facilitate better daily living, to optimizing elite level sport performance, and everything in between.

How is CrossFit different from other forms of exercise?
CrossFit is different from other exercise in the way that it combines three modalities, those being olympic lifting, gymnastics, and metabolic conditioning (running, biking, swimming, rowing, etc.) together in high intensity workouts that are never routine. Nothing is beyond the scope of what a CrossFitter is prepared to do.

What separates CrossFit from the typical gym, exercise class, or bootcamp? 
CrossFit is more than about just fitness. CrossFit is about community and encouragement. CrossFit is about high fives and fist bumps. An accomplishment for one person is an accomplishment for everyone. For many it rekindles a camaraderie from the days of high school or college sports and gives everyone a chance to reach goals of fitness or wellness that are otherwise difficult in gyms or classes filled with judgmental stares.

Who’s the best candidate for CrossFit? Do you have to be fit to CrossFit? 
Everyone! CrossFit is universally scaleable and designed to fit the needs of anyone willing to put in the effort. At CrossFit we firmly believe that the needs of a grandma and an olympic athlete do not differ in kind but simply degree.

What are the benefits that a participant might expect to see with CrossFit training? 
The CrossFit regimen is designed for people to excel in 10 fitness domains including but not limited to: Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy. Our protocol for high intensity, constantly varied functional movements (which also happens to be part of what defines us) is unlike any other programming in it's ability to illicit such benefits as body composition, weight loss, increase in bone density, decreased risk of heart attack, and a general well being are among the many.

What’s the biggest challenge that CrossFit participants face? 
The biggest challenge CrossFitters face is understanding how important nutrition is and putting it into practice. Proper nutrition can amplify or diminish the effect of your training efforts in a tremendous way.
What does it take to become a CrossFit trainer? 
In order to train at an affiliate an individual must be level 1 certified through a CrossFit Level 1 ANSI accredited certification course. From there he/she may continue to become trained in specialized areas such as olympic lifting, kettlebells, CrossFit kids, combat (all of which which are certified for at CrossFit iDog) among many others.

What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?
CrossFit affords me an opportunity to help people do something in life that they may have never thought possible. It changed the way I live and the ability to share CrossFit that has become such a blessing in my life.

Thank you, Brian, for doing this Q & A with me!  I haven't tried CrossFit yet since I've been in triathlon training mode this year, but I do plan on checking it out.  I'll keep you posted to give you a dietitian's eye view of it all.  If you'd like to learn more about CrossFit iDog, check out the website and Facebook page.

What about you?  Have you heard about CrossFit?  Have you tried it?  What do you think of it?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Foodie Friday: Veggie Quiche Cups

Veggie Quiche Cups
High quality protein for breakfast is a must for two main reasons.  It will satisfy that morning hunger after a long night of fasting.  Plus, it helps sustain energy levels throughout the morning, providing a steady source of fuel for work, school, or play.  One amazing source of high quality protein is the egg due to its amino acid composition and ease of digestion in the body.  Inspired by this recipe from Recipes Under 400, I thought the veggie quiche cup could be the perfect vehicle for eggs at breakfast.  I also thought my kids would instantly love these simply because they're made in a muffin pan, and they did.  I think the reason that they loved them most though is because I let them help me make them.  This recipe is versatile, so try any combo of veggies that you like.  You can also save on prep time by pre-cutting and washing your veggies the night before.  If you decide to try it, let me know what you think.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Veggie Quiche Cups

{Print this recipe}
Olive oil or olive oil spray
3 eggs
1 cup of vegetables, chopped (I used 1/4 cup each of red pepper, yellow pepper, onions, and mushrooms. You could also use spinach, broccoli, green pepper, or other veggies that you like.)
3/4 cup shredded cheese, like Swiss or cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1)  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Coat the muffin pan with the olive oil or spray olive oil and set aside.
2)  In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs well.  Stir in the chopped vegetables and cheese. Season with salt, and pepper.
3)  Pour about 1/4 cup of the egg mixture into 6 muffin cups.
4)  Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Serves:  3-6
Nutritional Information per quiche cup:
Calories:  99   Carbohydrate:  2 g   Protein:  7 g   Fat:  7 g   Cholesterol:  118 mg   Fiber:  .5 g   Sugar:  1 g   Sodium:  115 mg
Excellent source of:  vitamin C and A
Good source of:  riboflavin, vitamin B12, and calcium  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Foodie Friday: Blackberry Sorbet

Blackberry Sorbet
I'm a sucker for a homemade dessert because I love knowing exactly what goes into it.  So when I saw a recipe for a simple homemade blackberry sorbet from Nourished Kitchen, I could not refuse to try it.  Blackberries are still in season, so this is a great use for them.  I think this quick and easy dessert is sure to cool you down during these dog days of summer.  It's also going to please the taste buds with its perfectly tart berry flavor.  Blackberries are a fantastic source of fiber, vitamins C, K, and manganese, so this one is also nourishing.  My kids even love eating plain frozen blackberries as a snack, so you may even give that a try, too.  Enjoy!

Blackberry Sorbet

{Print this recipe}
4 cups blackberries, frozen
2-3 Tbsp water
1/4 cup honey (optional)

1.  Thaw the blackberries for about 15-20 minutes.

Thaw the frozen blackberries for 15-20 minutes.

2.  Place the blackberries, water, and honey, if using, into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times to break up the berries a bit.  Then process until smooth.
Place all ingredients into the food processor.
3.  Serve immediately.  (Note:  Nourished Kitchen suggests that this may be frozen for a few hours, if soft, stirring periodically to prevent ice crystals from forming.  However, I haven't tried this.)

The finished blackberry sorbet
Serves:  8
Nutritional Information, including honey:
Calories:  80   Carbohydrate:  20.5 g   Protein:  1 g   Fat:  0.3 g   Cholesterol:  0 mg   Fiber:  4 g   Sugar:  17 g  (6 g added)  Sodium:  1 mg

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