‘Souper‘ Bowl of Super Food

As if you need to read another post about Super Bowl Sunday… I have to admit, at the very moment I’m writing this, I have absolutely no idea who’s even playing. K I know, my brother’s must be so proud!

At any rate, Superbowl Sunday has ALWAYS been a part of my life. For many years, it almost always fell on my birthday or my birthday party was held on the same day. Two birds, one stone! Good looking out, mom!

Recently, a dear friend asked me what sorts of foods and snacks I might be serving up this Super Bowl. As a child, and nearly every adult year I recall, the foods that are most synonymous with this day, besides the cake and ice cream, are chili and nachos with cheese!

Over the years the recipes have changed. For many years the chili was vegan (aka I was a broke college kid and beans are cheap). While other years it may have been made with turkey or beef.

Souper Bowl 2016 will in some ways most closely resemble the way I first noshed on this warm and spicy dish. Only, dressed up with a few super food add ins to tickle the taste buds and stoke my metabolic fire.

clip_image002

Photo cred: http://www.fromaway.com

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try your hand.

INGREDIENTS:

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 ½ pounds ground venison (deer meat)

• 1 ½ cups finely chopped onions

• 1 ½ cups finely chopped celery and carrot

• 1 ½ tablespoons finely minced garlic cloves

• 1 cup red wine (and an ounce or so for the chef to enjoy all the commercials)

• 2 tablespoons ground cumin

• 2 tablespoons chili powder (we add a pinch of dried habanero or jalapeno, from the garden for a little more heat)

• 1 tablespoon cinnamon (yes, cinnamon)

• 2 bay leaves

• 2 cups frozen corn kernels from the summer harvest

• 1 cup roasted green peppers, peeled, seeded & chopped into medium dice

• 1 cup roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded & chopped into medium dice

• 1- 2 quarts canned tomatoes

• 1 small can tomato paste

• 1 ½- 3 cups dried beans (I prefer a blend of kidney, pinto, and black – soaked at least 36 hours)

• 2 tablespoons coco powder

• ½ cup left over coffee

• 2 tablespoons maple syrup

• Salt and pepper

PREPARATION:

Serves 12

Total Prep and Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a large stockpot, add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes.  Then add the meat to the pot and cook until it’s no longer pink and it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the wine to the pot, bring to a boil, and reduce it by about half.  Put in the cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and bay leaves and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. 

Add the corn, peppers, tomatoes, and beans.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  

Put in the Super Bowl MVP and antioxidant rich cocoa powder, coffee and the WV maple syrup. Continue to simmer for a few minutes, to gently combine all of the flavors.

Season to taste with a dash of salt and grind of pepper.

SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES:

Meat is optional. Although some wouldn’t call it ‘chili’ if it didn’t have meat, it will have nearly the same flavor and will satisfy vegetarian guests if omitted. I’ve made this dish many times with the ancient grain, quinoa, providing nearly the same texture and protein content as the ground meat. Have a bar of fresh toppings for the chili like cilantro, limes, coconut cream, avocado or diced green onions to add a contrast of color and to entice your guests.

As for the nachos, I’m not crazy about cheese these days and neither is my belly. Not to mention the lack of nutrients in the blandly colored dish. This year, I’ll be serving up a rendition on this Epicurious concoction and will be making a few recipe tweaks of my own. Ensuring most of what’s ‘loaded’ on the nachos are local and organic ingredients when possible, and that the chips are a variety of non-GMO corn tortillas so that they’re not a total calorie bomb.

clip_image004

Photo cred: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/

While I’ve yet to try it, I might just give this Butternut-Queso a go as well.

clip_image006

http://www.thefirstmess.com/2014/09/24/omg-vegan-butternut-queso-recipe/

Beyond that I’m sure I’ll whip up another batch of Cauliflower Buffalo bites as I have in years past.

clip_image008

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-13441/crispy-cauliflower-buffalo-wings-gluten-free.html

I’ll probably also serve nutrient dense versions of classic staples like:

Spinach artichoke dip and double up on the spinach and artichoke and swap the weird ingredients you might spy in the store bought stuff for real ones.

Homemade ranch for dunking various veggies in will also grace the table.

WV Smoked trout dip from a recent ice fishing adventure will most likely make an appearance.

Beverages will abound, but a sparkling water with seasonal grapefruit from Texas will certainly be showcased (vodka or gin may be added at guests discretion).

Hot toddy’s using white pine and freshly bottled maple syrup (be on the look out for a future post) will also be an option for guests. Maybe a knob of Kentucky’s finest bourbon will even make a halftime appearance.

I’m curious to know, #1-Who’s playing? #2-What do you plan to serve? #3-What are your tricks for pleasing your guests while keeping your dishes penalty free?

Party on,

Lacy

Posted in Food Fridays, Nutrition, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pump and Run Recap- with a video!

clip_image001

What is the Pump and Run? Pump and Run is a sporting event that involves a strength challenge followed by a race. This type of race originates from the Arnold Classic held in Columbus each spring. This past Saturday, The Rec held the 5th Annual Pump and Run competition. Participants did a bench press portion followed by a 5K run on campus. They received a deduction from their overall run time for each rep completed on the bench press. The person with the lowest adjusted run time walked away with the top prize!

clip_image003clip_image005clip_image007

The amount needed to benchpress was determined by the weight and age of the individual. Each repetition deducted 30 seconds off the 5k run time. Our first place winner for the women’s division was Jennifer Scarbro who did 13 reps on the bench which gave her a final time of 15:24.5. Eddie Neel was our overall in the men’s division with 15 reps on the bench and after the run calculated a time of 3:53.2.

clip_image008

We had a blast hosting this event again. You don’t need to look like Arnold to complete a race like this, but we often run into people who don’t lift or don’t do cardio. It takes a certain type of athlete to be able to do both. For the record- we aren’t sure if Arnold himself ever did much cardio.

clip_image010

He was one big dude.

Check out our 2016 Pump and Run video:

We are gearing of the next event which will be our Indoor Triathlon on March 5th. Challenge yourself for a swim, bike, and run! Sign up now here.

Posted in Huntington, Rec Programs, Workout Programs | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Blame the Lettuce!

I see patients nearly every day that explain they can’t eat salads because they don’t agree with their bellies. I can understand this. I used to think the same thing. Having dealt with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) myself (Thanks for that gene, mom!), I now know that, once well informed, it’s 100% manageable. That just because we carry the gene that makes us more sensitive to certain foods, doesn’t mean we have to suffer following every bite we take. We just take smarter bites!

When this situation arises in the clinic, I quickly put on my detective hat and start investigating:

1) When you say ‘salad,’ what does that mean to you?

2) Where did said ‘salad’ come from, and who prepared it?

3) What sort of ‘dress’ did said ‘salad’ have on?

While it’s possible that some folks are sensitive to leafy greens and some veggies, most of the time it’s not the veggies that cause the IBS symptoms of diarrhea or constipation. More often it’s the ‘chemicals’ either on the vegetables or in the dressing that’s telling your body “GET ME OUT OF HERE! I DON’T BELONG!”

1) What does salad mean to me? The produce! When I hear someone say salad, I want to know what color it is. What vegetables they’re putting in there and how many. What fruits might be dancing around in the sea of bright green. I also want to know what ‘extras’ they might be throwing on top. (Here’s looking at you bacon bits, cheese, croutons, sunflower seeds, chunks of ham and hard boiled eggs.) While some of these things are great, they can quickly overshadow the ‘salad’ or produce that should be the main attraction.

Tasty tip: Make sure the bulk of your salad is produce, protein toppings should be served as a ‘side dish portion’ and all those other tasty ‘extras’ should be added delicately, rather than piled on top or buried below.

2) Why does the origin of the salad matter? Well, that’s because not all salads are created equal. Picture it… If you walk into a fast food chain, and every time you order a salad, or any meal for that matter, IT LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME! No matter if you’re in California, or rural West Virginia. The produce in that salad was more than likely picked several weeks ago, sprayed with propylene glycol to ‘preserve it’s freshness’ (yes, that’s antifreeze, which would probably better serve you in your car engine this winter), and has now been sitting in the fast food refrigerator for several days because, how many of us go through fast food and order a salad anyway? What’s a better option you’re wondering?

Tasty Tip: Plan ahead or pack something from home! Most other choices on the menu could be just as sketch. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how and when it was made and encourage the manager or owner to shop locally for produce is it’s within their means. Many people are simply unaware.

3) Ah-ha, the dressing! To many, the loveliest part of a salad; to others, and those of us with IBS, the deadliest part. While a nice big bowl of various colored produce is lovely, it can soon turn into a ‘I should have just had a pizza’ moment if we’re not careful about with what and how much we dress it. To me, there’s something nostalgic about a simple garden salad with an herbaceous, peppery, and garlicy ranch dressing. But, the last time I picked up the bottle to read the label… YIKES! It looked like a chemistry experiment gone wrong. This sent me straight to the kitchen to perform an experiment myself. Looking back, every salad I used to eat with ranch dressing sent me, well… Not to the kitchen if you know what I mean! ; )

Tasty Tip: Always read your labels and if you’re eating out, don’t be afraid to take your own homemade dressing. Check out the recipe below if your inner child sometimes screams for ranch dressing too. Nobody’s going to judge what crazy things you might decide to dip in it! ; )

clip_image002

photo cred: http://nourishingfoodways.com/2012/06/25/garlic-ranch-dressing/

DRY INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 6 tsp dried dill
  • 6 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tsp dried basil
  • 3 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste

*Keep these mixed up in a jar for a quick sprinkle and go dressing or dip. Add 1T of mixture to the recipe below.

WET INGREDIENTS:

Either:

· 1/3 cup yogurt (Greek or regular) and ¼ cup milk or water

Or Dairy Free:

· 1/2 cup mayonnaise (homemade is best)

· 1 teaspoon olive oil

· 1 teaspoon lemon juice

· 1-2 tablespoons of milk or buttermilk (I prefer almond, cashew & found that just plain water works too)

The simplest form of dressing is oil emulsified with an acid solution.

Check out this awesome chart:

Viniagrette_IG_Draft7

photo cred: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/28/how-to-make-salad-dressing_n_7452178.html

I’m dying to know how you ‘get dressed’! Leave your comments below.

Nosh nicely,

Lacy

Posted in Food Fridays, Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

For the Next Five Years – Eat This!

If you’re in the business of nutrition, whether that’s eating, preparing food for people to eat, selling food, or delivering food education in the United States, you’re probably aware of the much anticipated news that broke this week. With much ado, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, updated every 5 years, were recently released. Right alongside diet advice from nearly everyone else you’d expect during the month of January. While the Dietary Guidelines are geared toward professionals, the content is what trickles down into the messages you receive from educators and food manufacturers about what to eat, what to avoid, and what to expect to see in your processed food. If you’re an organic farmer, gardener, or live off the land, keep on! You’re most likely a step ahead.

It seems like just yesterday I was an intern in Washington, D.C., with the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, working on projects that followed the 2010 launch of the Dietary Guidelines. You might recall… That’s when we finally dropped the food pyramid (thank goodness!), and adopted the more practical, ‘My Plate’. In my humble opinion, a step in the right direction at least. One thing I came to quickly realize, that while ‘The Government’ is highly scrutinized for what gets released, there are hardworking, highly intelligent, men and women who look and smell just like you and I, that work their tails off for 5 years, sifting through the endless mountains of research to come up with the best information we have to date that suggest what we should and shouldn’t be eating to stay healthy.

Now, I won’t get into debate about research funding, lobbying and vested interest. It’s not worth my time spent wondering or worrying. However, what I do know is that while we may not all agree or disagree with the guidelines in their entirety, for the most part, they’re pretty spot on.

Let’s take a second to break things down and highlight a couple of the changes you’ll see rolling out in restaurants and grocery stores across the nation.

clip_image001

Image sourced: http://hpjmh.com/2015/02/26/2015-dietary-guidelines-good-news-and-bad/

SUGAR

The long awaited focus on how much sugar we’ve grown to consume has now become government interest and should certainly be one of our own. According to the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans – limiting sugar to no more than 10% of daily calories is a good idea. A better idea… Strive to limit it even further than that, or just be savvy with your choices. 10% is still a pretty good chunk if you think the ‘Average American’ consumes 2000 calories each day. That’s 200 calories just from sugar alone. In teaspoons, that’s still 12 teaspoons of added sugar each day. That’s a great start from the average 22 or more teaspoons those of us in the US would typically have daily, but we can certainly do and feel better when we take it to the limits and sprinkle sparingly.

One thing to also be on the lookout for with this news is the addition of artificial sweeteners being added to EVERYTHING! The label may claim to be ‘less sugar’, ‘no sugar added’, or ‘lower in sugar’, but don’t buy it! I mean that figuratively and literally! DO NOT BUY THESE FAKE FOODS! Like fat was villainized in the 80’s and 90’s, thus we pumped sugar into everything, fat will certainly start to make a comeback, but I imagine the use of artificial sugar will also surge. Beware!

Nourishing tip – Buy all of your foods in their real, whole, plain form to avoid question. From yogurt (Greek or not), to breakfast cereals (think cooked grains like steel cut oats, barley, quinoa, or basmati rice) sweeten them yourself with whole fruit first – honey, molasses or maple syrup if you must. You could even try your hand at growing stevia in your windowsill for an added touch of sweetness in lemon water or tea.

CHOLESTEROL

For the first time in a number of years, the Dietary Guidelines removed the goal of limiting total cholesterol in foods to less than 300mg daily. While they dropped this longstanding guideline due to lack of evidence that suggests cholesterol in foods causes our total cholesterol to go up, they do include other advice that help to support overall heart health.

We’ve known for years that cholesterol in food ≠ cholesterol in our body. What does have more of an impact, most likely, is how much or how little plant foods we consume daily. This is why the recommendation to fill at least half your plate, bowl, cup, dish, pizza, taco, fork, spoon, or hands with fruits and vegetables at each meal or snack. The committee also recommends including a variety of protein foods so that animals aren’t all that we’re eating. Beans, nuts, seeds and legumes can provide just as much protein per meal, but also provide the beneficial cholesterol lowering fiber and phytonutrients that may help to prevent or reverse heart disease, type II diabetes, obesity and other lifestyle disease.

Nourishing tip – Plan your meal around your plant foods and use meat as a treat or side dish. You’ll save money, pack in more volume for fewer calories, and walk away from the table feeling fuller, with more energy and way more nutrients to keep your body in tip top shape.

When you do have meat, choose a variety or protein sources. Try to have seafood, lake, or stream food at least 2 times weekly (think catfish, trout, or wild caught salmon). When you purchase pork and beef, make friends with a local farmer to try and find those that have been pastured or grass fed. If you have poultry or eggs, purchase those that you know were given room to roam on the range. No one enjoys being cooped up their entire life. (Pun much intended there)!

There’s much more to read about the guidelines and you can check them out here. We’d love to know what you think about and how you do or don’t incorporate the Dietary Guidelines into your eating pattern.

Nosh nicely,

Lacy

Posted in Nutrition | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

‘You Do Know What Those Fast Food Hamburgers are Made From, Right…?’

A question presented during this morning’s trip to the Farmer’s Market. ‘…Scraps off the slaughterhouse floor, of course!’ Extreme? Maybe. Truthful? Possibly. Thought provoking? Definitely. While this organic grower may have let his disgust for commercial and factory farming dominate our conversation about our shared passion for real food grown with love and integrity, his somewhat sensationalized claims really got my mind reeling. How can one possibly make a profit by charging less than $1.00 for a cheeseburger?

“Does anyone ever question that?” I wondered. In my opinion, not often enough. Most of the time we seem more concerned with how much more the salad costs at the fast food restaurant than how cheaply made the hamburger actually is. Rarely do I encounter patients who say, ‘Processed food is just too inexpensive. It concerns me.’ However it’s nearly everyday I find myself educating clients that it’s really not ‘more expensive to eat healthy’. Behind the veil manufactures have cast that healthy food is more expensive, they’ve hidden the fact that processed food is incredibly cheap. We’re not just taking $$ here, we’re talking quality, nutrients, and love. What does buying cheap food by the droves say about our values? What does that say about where and how we choose to spend our energy, be it time, money, or physical labor? And what does that have to say about where we’re headed as individuals and as a civilization? Lets be real for a second…

Facts:

· The US government provides subsidies (grants, aids, tax breaks) to farmers who grow crops such as wheat, corn, and soy. Maybe not such a terribly thing, but it doesn’t end there. These crops are then taken from their whole form, and processed or refined into a form that our bodies simply do not respond as well to. Because this is done in bulk with large, efficient operations that have been in place for years and years, labor and energy investments are minimal. These refined materials are the main ingredients in most of the packaged foods you’ll find down the grocery store aisles or in fast food establishments. They lack diversity, they’re stabilized with chemically engineered food additives and they’re just down right not great for our natural human make up.

· It’s not that growing soy, wheat, or corn is less costly to the farmer than growing broccoli, apples, or cucumbers, but there’s no rebate, tax breaks, grants or incentive. The down fall? All other crops are perceived to be more costly when we go to purchase them at the market. Yet, they’re far more nutrient dense and diverse. Attributes our natural human makeup requires to stay healthy.

· While the government is the entity providing these subsidies, we’re the ones doing the voting. This sort of voting doesn’t require a registration or paper ballot. Each of us votes at least three times each day. Be it at the grocery store, the drive through or the minimart. What we choose to buy determines the demand. What we demand, the government subsidizes, in essence.

So what’s the solution?

One suggestion is to start by asking what’s most important to our families and to ourselves. Saving time? Saving money? Saving energy? Where else would we rather spend it? Is avoiding obesity, type II diabetes, hormone imbalances, and or other early onset lifestyle diseases important? What’s a better way to spend our time? Spending 30 extra minutes preparing a meal for your family to enjoy using whole foods, or watching the latest episode of the Kardashian saga while perusing Facebook? Once we narrow down our values, perhaps we’ll come to realize that maybe it’s not about how costly the food is, but more so what the food is worth.

Next, start to weigh out the REAL cost of food. What costs more per serving, a 5-pound bag of whole potatoes or an order of french fries? Does it cost less to buy a jar of peanut butter with corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil, or a bag of whole peanuts that you can blend up yourself and store in a mason jar?

Educate yourself. Food companies spend a good chunk of their yearly budget on incredibly provocative marketing (we’ve already determined they don’t have to spend all that much on food). The ads and sales pitches prey on our impulsive nature and often times, ignorance as consumers. A good tip here is to think about the ‘price per unit’. Don’t just go with the price at face value, think (or do the math) of how many servings you’ll actually get from the bag, box, can, etc. and how full of nutrients (the magical components that determine how healthy the food is, and in turn how healthy we are) each serving contains.

Develop a few basic cooking skills. There are way too many internet videos, cookbooks, free classes, cooking demos, culinary schools and good ole’ mountain mommas out there to not know how to cook real, wholesome food. You’ll be amazed at how easy and how pleasurable chopping onions, braising carrots, and searing tuna really is.

Learn to grow some of your own food. If you really want your food to cost less money, the easiest way is to grow it yourself. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t take a lot of know-how, time, space, or energy. Pick up an intro to gardening book, attend a Master Gardner class, go visit your grandfather or call up your local Department of Agriculture Extension agent for tips on how to feed your family real food no matter where you live or how much land you have.

Keep it real. As I mentioned before, each time we pull up to the drive through or purchase the boxed mac n cheese, we’re voting to have our food cheap, easy, fast and devoid of many of the nutrients it’s original whole food contained. Whereas taking a trip to the farmers market, buying a pack of organic seeds, or asking for an extra side of veggies as opposed to the bun is an easy way to vote for better food.

It’s no secret that we are what we eat. But we are also how we eat, where we receive our food from, and when or how long ago it was prepared. These factor into how nourishing it is to our bodies, minds, and souls.

Lastly, no New Year’s post would be complete without a nod to resolving something in the New Year. If you haven’t given much thought to a resolution for 2016, a vow to choosing more whole, real and sustainably harvested foods when you can is one worth giving a go!

Cheers to health, wealth and prosperity and a very Happy New Year!

Nosh Nicely,

Lacy

Posted in Nutrition, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I EAT CAKE

It’s a hard job being a dietitian-nutritionist. It’s not so much that the hours are long and grueling or that’s it super labor intensive. It’s not even that the paperwork and dealing with insurance companies can get overwhelming or that patients and diseases can be hard to manage. Nope, the hardest part about my job sometimes is when the work day ends. When I get home and am asked to ‘approve’ what’s served for dinner. When out with friends who feel like I might be conducting nutritional analysis of what’s on their plate. When I go home for holidays to find my brothers are cringing about what super food dish they’ll feel obligated to try served alongside the mashed potatoes. When at a friend’s birthday party I’m told, “now I know you don’t eat cake, but…’ Yup, the hardest part of my job is convincing people that I’m human. That I have food philosophies I LOVE to share with my patients, or family and friends when I’m asked, but underneath the white coat and series of silly letters behind my name, I TOO EAT CAKE! And, I think everyone should on occasion, if they really want to.

I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts, the basic strategies I share with patients about the approaches to health and healing with food I live and counsel by, and I’ve highlighted them again below. Each one deserves its own soap box, but this time in lieu of sharing nutrition insight, I’ve included my Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipe instead, because sometimes, we just need to give it a rest. That goes for all things in life, especially our approaches to food and nutrition.

Food Philosophies

Philosophy

Applied at Least…

Foundation of whole, real foods

90% of the Time

Most of those having been plucked, picked, or foraged for (i.e. plants)

80% of the Time

Half of those in their fresh, raw state

50% of the Time

Conscious consumption of animal foods

20% of the Time

Occasionally, foregoing all of this

10% of the Time

clip_image001


Ultimate Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ingredients

YIELD: Makes 2 1/2 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour

Weisenberger Mills is locally milled in Appalachia

2 teaspoons baking soda

 

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

2 teaspoon ground ginger –

A bit more if using fresh grated

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

 

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

1 teaspoon ground cloves

 

1/2 teaspoons salt

J.Q. Dickinson salt is my local fave

1 large egg

Farm fresh if you’ve got access

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Real butter from real cows. Coconut oil works great too.

1/3 cup granulated sugar

 

1/3 cup molasses

 

1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

 

Coarse sanding or raw sugar for rolling

Use gold decorating sugar if you really want to be fancy

PREPARATION

    1. Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk egg, butter, granulated sugar, molasses, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Mix in dry ingredients just to combine.
    2. Place sanding sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful and roll into balls (if dough is sticky, chill 20 minutes). Roll in sugar and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart.
    3. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and just set around edges (over-baked cookies won’t be chewy), 8–10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.
    4. MAKE AHEAD: Cookie dough can be made and rolled into balls 2 weeks ahead. Freeze on a baking sheet; transfer to resalable plastic bags. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before rolling in sugar

These have been my go-to cookie recipe pretty much since I learned how to bake. The recipe has evolved as I have and has undergone every recipe modification known to man. In all my highly scientific experimentation, what I’ve observed and concluded is that baking is both a science and an art. Also, baking cookies (in my family at least) is a tradition and a treat that should be enjoyed mindfully and respectfully in that regard!

I’m interested in knowing how you choose to let your hair down when it comes to food? What are your favorite holiday treats and what recipe modifications (or disasters) have you made?

Happy Holidays from My Kitchen to Yours,

Lacy Davidson, MS, RDN, LD, CDE, RYT

Dietitian – Nutritionist – Yogini – Wanderluster

Posted in Nutrition, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Checklist – Healthy Nutrition & Lifestyle Edition

For many, Holidays = Travel. Travel = No Kitchen. No Kitchen = Road Food. Road Food = Well, you can see where this is going… Having recently traveled more than 6000 miles across the country and back, I’ve had quite a bit of time to ponder and reflect on the ins and outs of not going rogue on your good eating habits while traveling. Be it by train, car, airplane or sleigh.

That, ‘It’s okay, I’m on vacation,’ feeling comes on so easily when you sit down to your first ‘out of town’ meal. The frequent stops over for gas and the dazzling display of gas station junk (no need to even attach the word ‘food’ to that phrase) is enough to either make your mouth water, or your pancreas fail at first sight. Not to mention airports and fast food establishments, which have the insane ability to ignite hunger, despite being charged 3 times the price for lesser quality foods or having just eaten.

No matter your mode of travel or where you happen to end up for vacation, be it home or abroad, try to keep these tips in mind so as to not feel completely helpless and drenched in regret upon return, but rather coming back from your vacation as you should, feeling full of life, completely regenerated, and ready to take on the world!

Road Rules:

clip_image002

1 – Prepare Your Road Maps: Whether you’re traveling by bus, train, plane, or car, make sure to plan ahead. Ensure that you’re aware of how long you’ll be commuting and have plenty of your ‘normal go to foods’ on hand for your trip. Typically, it’s not a lack of will power, or discipline that derails us; it’s most always a lack of planning. No matter how much you intend to ‘only make healthy choices’ during travel, without being armed with already on-hand good choices, it’s easy to fall victim to good marketing and product display.

Safe Travels Foods:

· Fresh Veggies: chopped veggies, whole carrots, cucumbers, mini bell peppers with hummus cups

· Whole fruit: Apples, citrus, pears, grapes, berries and bananas

· Avocados, sun dried tomatoes, olives

· Make your own trail mix: mixed nuts, dried berries, apple rings and banana chips

· Quick cook oats or whole grain cereal bags

· Plain Greek yogurt for dips and treats

· Assortment of teas and micro ground coffee

clip_image004

2- Proceed With Caution: Alright, so you’re on vacation, and maybe that means your vacationing from not only work and responsibilities, but maybe from your ‘regular eating and lifestyle habits too’. That’s cool, but set some boundaries. Know how often you plan to eat out. Know what restaurants might be better to stop at. Make sure you’re staying hydrated with plenty of water, and know how many treats or desserts you plan to enjoy. Making healthful choices isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being mindful. So when we choose good quality foods, we make the conscience decision to do so. Same goes for foods that aren’t so nutrient dense. When we decide to proceed, we proceed with caution.

clip_image006

3- Check Your Fluids: Just as your vehicle requires all fluid levels to be in check during travel, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated when we’re on the go. One tip I make sure to share with all my patients, especially those who spend a lot of time on the road is the power of a reusable bottle or mug. Water or mostly water drinks (i.e. coffee, unsweetened tea, herbal tea, fruit infused water – hot or cold-, kombucha tea, etc.) are an essential part of staying healthy while traveling. Many times ‘huger pains’ are really a thirst sensation in disguise. Driving can also be boring for some so eating for entertainment could easily be replaced with a warm, calorie free, beverage that requires full attention. Keep a few tea bags stashed in the glove box and your travel mug filled up with warm water for these emergency situations.

clip_image008

4- Don’t Drink and Drive: For many, vacationing almost always means our guidelines for what’s a safe amount of alcohol to consume, goes out the window. Just incase you missed the memo – that’s 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women. What equals a drink? Typically, a 12oz. light beer (~4%ABV), 1oz hard liquor, or a 5oz pour of wine or champagne is considered a serving. Exceeding these amounts by the hour is exceeding our bodies ability to ‘detoxify’ or clear the alcohol from our system safely. In addition to not getting behind the wheel after imbibing, steer clear of any sugary mixers, salt rimmed glasses, or daiquiris that can easily rack up more empty calories than the meal you’re having it with.

clip_image010

5- hitch- Hike: Alright, I’m not encouraging that you rely on various modes of free transportation from strangers as a way to enjoy your vacation (although you very well could, that’s up to you), but this tip is more a play on words. When you’re on vacation, be sure that your activity doesn’t take a vacation too. Back to tip one where we discussed planning, just as you pick out the sights you would like to see or stores you plan to visit, make sure to incorporate activity into your travels as well.

· Walking around the airport during layovers

· Stopping into national, state or local parks on road trips, or

· Planning a walking or biking tour of the city you’re visiting

· May airports offer yoga to passengers these days, and yoga studios in big cities offer discounts to first timers.

While vacationing and traveling isn’t a part of everyday life, it’s a part of life in general for most people. Embracing the fact that while we may not be in our regular routine, we still have the ability to stay on track and avoid having to dig ourselves back out of a slump once the vacation comes to a close. I enjoying sharing tips from my personal and shared experience, but love even more to hear how you stay on course during vacationing and holidays. Comment, tweet, or post below the strategies you use during the holidays.

Nosh Nicely,

Lacy Davidson, MS, RDN, LD, CDE, RYT

Dietitian – Nutritionist – Yogini – Wanderluster

Posted in Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment