On a hot summer day, if you’re like me, you don’t want to turn on the oven or stove. And you for sure don’t want to venture out into your hot car to search for a quick meal. A summer salad is the answer! But I’m not talking about a bowl of iceberg with some ranch squirted on top. I’m talking about a salad that is a satisfying meal that, I promise, you will crave all summer long. Read on to learn the six ways to level up your summer salads.
1. Go Green
When choosing greens for your salad, you want flavor, color and texture. The darker the green the more packed with vitamins and minerals it is. So put down the iceberg and coleslaw mix and pick up the Arugula/Wild Rocket, Spinach, Spring Mix (which is a mix of both), Endive if you’d like some bitterness to play off any sweet additions.
2. Protein Power
Now, if you’ve ever eaten a salad as a meal, and then been hungry an hour later there’s a good chance it was missing some protein power. You can of course choose grilled chicken breast. But if you’re looking for some excitement try a nice piece of salmon, flaked Spanish canned tuna in olive oil, garbanzo or kidney beans work too, and leftover grilled steak is a great option too.
3. Fruit Forward
Summer is the best time to visit a farmer market and behold a beautiful array of fruits and berries that are great on a salad. Sliced strawberries are always a winner, as are blueberries (try it with salmon!), a sliced nectarine and diced a apple or pear are great crunchy choices when fall gets closer too. And if you’re pressed for time a sprinkling of dried cranberries can add just the right tart tang.
4. Cheese, Please
Treating your salad to a little cheese is a great way to add some creamy or sharp notes to your meal. And the stronger the cheese variety you choose, the less you need to use which keeps your salad healthy. Try one of these: a little feta for a salty kick, goat cheese for creaminess or crumbled blue cheese/gorgonzola for some serious oomph! Or keep it simple and sprinkle on a little shredded parmesan.
5. Let’s Get Nuts
Nuts add crunch, flavor and texture without being empty calories like crunchy wonton strips or croutons. Walnuts give your salad some meatiness; toasted almonds add crunch or scatter some sunflower seeds for some umami nuttiness.
6. Dress It Up
Finally, choosing a great dressing that ties all these great flavors and textures together. There are so many choices! My first recommendation is that whenever possible you try to make it yourself. Store bought salad dressings can have so many hidden sugars and extra salt that you just don’t need. And they’re usually processed to be able to have such a long shelf life. A great alternative is drizzling some good quality EVOO and balsamic vinegar (or flavored balsamic), then a little salt and vinegar. Or get a little jar and drizzle in the oil and vinegar and add a spoonful of Dijon and a squeeze of honey, than put the lid on and shake for a great honey Dijon vinaigrette. Or add Greek herbs to the oil and vinegar and make a light Greek dressing. There are so many options! Even if you choose a creamy option, if it’s homemade, you’ll know what you’re feeding you and your family which is still a win in my book.
Flowers! Sunshine! Chocolate bunnies! All the signs of spring are here. And with Spring comes new opportunities to bloom and grow in many aspects of our lives. So as your doing some spring cleaning, let’s talk throwing out the old and incorporating some fresh new choices into your routine.
1. Old Habit: Snacking on Spring themed treats like crème filled chocolate eggs and sugar dusted marshmallows.
Simple Swap: Whether you celebrate Easter or not this candy is around every corner starting right after Valentine’s Day and can be so hard to resist. Maybe it’s nostalgia, cute packaging or a sugar craving but you eat it not always because it tastes great but many times just because it’s there. Conquer the craving the smart way by having some dark chocolate that has 70% cacao or more on hand. Dark chocolate that is high in cacao is a good source of antioxidants, it’s lower in sugar, less processed and can even be a good source of fiber. And it’s harder to eat a ton because a little goes a long way.
2. Old Habit: Eating out often.
Simple Swap: Eating out a restaurant is a fun experience. But now people eat out multiple times a week and it can not only bust your budget but your diet too! Serving sizes can be 2-3 times larger than what you would serve yourself at home. Which means even the healthiest options can become unhealthy fast. Eating at home, you can control your portion size enjoy better quality food and no need to tip. Even if you cut down eating at a restaurant by one or two times a week you will see a huge impact on your diet and your wallet.
3. Old Habit: Watching tv after dinner
Simple Swap: I get it, you’ve been busy all day. You ate a healthy dinner like I suggested and now you would just like to relax, and binge watch 4-6 hours of your favorite show. But, how about tonight instead, you take a stroll. The days are longer, the weather is nicer, and you deserve a moment to reconnect with yourself, and/or your friend or partner. It’ll help you relax more than tv. And it will help you digest your meal better, reduce stress and get some much-needed fresh air. Plus, if you are walking with your partner then they say couples who exercise together do more other kinds of exercising together, if you get my drift.
Here’s to Spring!
Say hello to March. You know... the month of March Madness, St Paddy’s Day and most
importantly National Nutrition Month (it’s a thing!)! It’s a festive month to be sure. But what
people get most excited about this time of year is St. Paddy’s day. The national holiday makes
me think of corn beef, wearing green and getting drruuunnnnkkk. Not that I party on St.
Paddy’s day any more (see me circa late 1990s), but I know that is what some people are up to,
for better or for worse. So, that got me thinking about talking about the good and bad about
Let me get straight to the pros as I know that most of my friends’ who read this newsletter are
likely to stop reading after this section (ha!). Any positive results of drinking occur specifically
when you drink in moderation, especially if your drink of choice is red wine. Red wine contains
powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants can raise your “good” cholesterol: your HDL. Red
wine can also thin your blood, which is great if you have thicker arteries. Overall, red wine,
drank in moderation, can lower your risk for a heart attack. Who wouldn’t want to raise a glass
On the flip side, drinking past moderation can greatly increase your risk of cancers, especially
breast, colorectal, liver and laryngeal. When you drink in excess you cause chronic
inflammation and DNA damage. Excess drinking can also quicken dementia and be an
independent risk factor for dementia regardless of your genes. This means even if you didn’t
have a risk of dementia based on your genes, you can drink yourself into dementia. Excessive
alcohol can also increase your risk of obesity and increase your risk of malnutrition.
Now let’s talk about what I mean when I say ‘moderation’. If you’re male, it’s 2 drinks per day
and if you are female, it’s 1 drink per day. What if you are a man-sized female? Still only one
drink per day. Women metabolize alcohol differently not based on size, but on gender.
Therefore, extra weight will not protect you if you are female.
What happens if despite all this new-found knowledge, you still end up hungover the morning
after St. Paddy’s? There are some foods that can help you. First, reach for some water. You
need to rehydrate yourself. Second, look for high electrolyte containing foods, specifically
sodium, potassium and magnesium. This would be a good time to reach for a banana, have a
salad, have some soup/crackers or drink some coconut water. Last, but not least, eat some
protein, especially eggs. Alcohol can get in the way of some amino acid absorption, hence the
protein. Eggs help your body produce an antioxidant which will help breakdown the by-
products of alcohol. So, basically reserve a spot at your favorite brunch spot for the day after,
but hold off on the green mimosas!
fitandhealthynutrition.ehealthpro.com/products/omegavail-hi-po-60-capsulesHello, February! It’s that time of year where hearts are popping up EVERYWHERE! Cartoon style for sure but did you know it’s Heart Health Awareness month too? My favorite part of this season isn’t the heart shape chocolate boxes, it’s on the increased attention (maybe unconsciously) on the heart—the actual organ.
When I think of things one can do to improve their heart health, I always think about fish oils. Being a Portuguese American, I am a big fan of fish, but even I find it difficult to consume the recommended amounts per week. Plus, fish can be tricky to cook, and my kids are at the stage where they say no at the mere suggestion of it for dinner. And I know I am not alone, right?
So, even though I am a food first kind of girl, I find myself recommending fish oil to my patients who wants to improve their cardiovascular health, decreased their levels of triglyceride’s and improve their health outcomes after a heart attack. I also find myself recommending it to people with a tendency towards depression, which I have found at an increased level in the last two years. I wonder why? And if you want a smart(er) baby, better increase your Omega 3 fatty acids as well.
Regardless, not all the supplements out there are created equal. EPA and DHA (found only in fish) are the preferred sources since they are better absorbed than by their competitor ALA (from plant sources). So, most of us need the supplements because of what I mentioned above. Even then you might think you are taking good fish oils, when you are really not. 2gm (2000mg) per day is a standard dose for heart health, however a supplement can say 2000 gms of fish oil on the front of the bottle, but not include it from the preferred sources like EPA/DHA. Therefore, you need to turn the bottle over and see what concentrations of the pills have of EPA/DHA and take the pills in quantities till they reach 2000mg of EPA/DHA or buy a different brand. One that I like is by designs for health. You can find it at here: fitandhealthynutrition.ehealthpro.com/products/omegavail-hi-po-60-capsules *
To your heart health!
*Affiliate link disclosure
2019 is here and all the resolutions are flying by fast. Here’s the thing, although I’m a registered dietitian I don’t do diet challenges. The new year should be inspiring - no fat shaming here. And if you’d like to use this month to incorporate some healthy lifestyle changes – I’m all for it. But we’re not going to count calories, here are three things that you can do right now that don’t include a diet.
2019 should be about being your best you. And incorporating these three simple things is a great place to start. If you’d like more straight forward but more personalized advice, contact me today to get some targeted solutions.
During the holiday season there are yummy treats and festive indulgences around every corner. It’s expected that we indulge but then the New Year arrives and panic sets in. Switching gears and looking for a fast fix to lose the weight is a common response to holiday weight gain. And a major trend/fast fix that I get asked about constantly is the Keto Diet. So, let’s do some myth busting and find out if this could be the right plan for you.
Myth: Carbs are the source of all weight gain, so if I cut out the carbs on Keto I’ll drop the weight.
Fact: Carbs by themselves do not make you gain weight, calories do. If you eat too much of anything, it’ll cause weight gain. And while cutting refined/unhealthy carbs and those that are high in sugar is a positive way to improve your diet. There are many healthy unrefined “good” carbs that you should still be incorporating into your daily diet like whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetable and fruits.
Myth: Keto diet helps me lose weight fast
Fact: Keto helps you lose water weight in the beginning. So, while you may see a dramatic drop in the first few weeks, it’s likely that it’s not permanent. Add to that you may not be losing fat, you could be losing muscle.
Myth: Staying on the Keto diet is a manageable lifestyle
Fact: The Keto diet consists of an ultra-low carb diet of less than 30 carbs per day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. That means anywhere from 150gm + carbs per day. The Keto diet is unsustainable for most people because its severity makes people go off and on the diet resulting in yo-yo dieting which can wreak havoc on your metabolism in the long term.
Conclusion: The Keto diet might be a fast fix, but it’s not a smart one because in addition to the above myths I’ve just smacked down… I haven’t even touched on the dangers it can have given someone’s individual health history.There is a famous vegan cardiologist that suggests that one should only go on a Keto diet if weight loss is more important to the individual than his/her long-term health. And to me, that is not an acceptable risk. There is no one-size fits all weight loss solution, no matter what an informercial or book says. Confused what to eat? You’re not alone. The best way to figure out a permanent way to incorporate a healthy lifestyle is to talk to someone about what YOU need. Not a trend or a fast fix. When you’re ready for some down to earth, medically sound advice with someone who can diagnose what’s best for you, with you… then I’m here to help.
Hey Guys. Long time no hear from me. Sorry about that. I am studying to become a Certified Diabetes Educator. Once I past that difficult test, I will be back to sharing loads of nutrition information via this blog. For now, let's have a quick chat about migraines.
When it comes to nutrition, there are several foods that can trigger symptoms. The best thing to do is to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist and go on an elimination diet to figure out what those foods can be for you. No time for that? I hear you. A well studied mineral that chronic migraine sufferers may be deficient in is Magnesium. Therefore, a good first course of action may be to start taking 400 mg of Magnessium Citrate daily. If things do not improve, it may be time to call a pro.
Besides nutrition, physical trauma may be causing migraines. Check out this blog by Dr. Fred Dietzen for more info: www.evokespinalcare.com/2018/02/25/migraines-related-neck-trauma-likely/
Stay healthy my friends,
I used to be a personal trainer. I should adore gyms. Unfortunately, I have little love for them. It’s not that I don’t like group classes or enjoy all of the equipment that a gym provides that my house simple does not. A good TRX band workout starts my day off right. I just simply can’t engage in regular physical activity if there are any barriers between getting that activity done. I already have two small kids under 5, two dogs, two jobs (why must everything be in pairs?) and I am the primary parent in our household. Unless a gym were to move next door to me, then any gym is too far away. I don’t have the luxury of driving anywhere while having to allot time to: 1) park 2) Change into my gym clothes 3) Stuff my belongings into a grimy communal locker 4) Walk around the gym looking for all the equipment that I want to use while hoping some meat head hasn’t decided that he is owning that piece for the next 45 minutes
5) Do my workout. Then I need to make sure I have time to either: awkwardly take a shower in the public bathroom in my flip flops only to have to come out and share a bench with some stranger while I dress OR commute back to my house and get my car sweaty so that at least I can shower in peace.
Also, having to be anywhere on time is a major struggle with two small kids. I am a type A personality that was always the person arriving to an event with 5-10 minutes to spare. Now I am constantly arriving places late, with unbrushed hair that I have pulled into a sloppy top knot, with one child who has had two meltdowns in the last 10 minutes and one child that has already peed through two pants and undies even though she has only been awake for an hour. How the heck am I supposed to make it in time to do a popular yoga class at a gym? The whole workout would barely undo the stress of getting there.
Yet, I am still a huge fan of doing something physical every day. Monday through Friday I set my alarm to ring an hour before my kids wake up so I can do 30 minutes of some type of workout (it takes me about 25 minutes to get out of my sleep stupor in the mornings). Some days I can only squeeze in a good 15-20 minutes because one of my demanding children (or both) can sense that I am trying to get something productive done for myself and starts screaming that they need to get up. On the weekends, I try to get an hour of something done in one day and I make sure that I have a rest day. I am flexible with myself on the weekends, though, since I am pretty strict with myself during the week. It has taken me a long time to figure out a routine that works for me, but I have managed to find it with some patience and self-forgiveness. I am sure that all of us have our perfect routine out there somewhere. On your journey to find yours, ditch the gym (unless it is already working for you), and you will likely figure out your particular recipe of weekly physical activity.
Stay healthy my friends,
Does that surprise you? Did you think I was going to say “eat your vegetables” or “exercise daily” or even “get a good night’s rest”? Although I am a fan of these good health tips, the single most important thing that we are not doing for our health is cooking our own food. I get it. As Trevor Noah would say on The Daily Show, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”, but really it is something we should make time for. I am not going to say you need Top Chef level skills to keep it interesting. Some basic cooking skills that can be acquired through youtube or a google search of “how to make the perfect ‘fill in the blank’” would suffice. We are living in the golden age of free content. The world is or web wide oyster, why not take advantage of that?
I am sure you are thinking again, “ain’t nobody got time for that”, but really, it doesn’t have to take that much time. Just think of it as a rearrangement of your time. Instead of having to ask yourself 3 times a day “what I am going to have at my next meal?” you decide all these things ahead of time. You make a list and batch cook for the whole week, hell you can even do this for the whole month if you have a freezer deep enough. How much easier is it to defrost something that you made awhile back versus having to wait for food each time you want it or having to take extra market trips during the week?
It’s not all about time though, this is really about your health. When you cook you can control what goes into your food. If you are trying to watch your waist line, you can always use less high calorie ingredients. A restaurant doesn’t care about keeping you at a healthy weight. They care about you coming back and an easy way to do that is to hook you on copious amounts of sugar and fat that can be unnecessary to a dish. With a basic understanding of food chemistry, or internet availability, I promise you can make your favorite dishes in healthier, lower calorie versions, saving you not only cash but potential health problems in the future.
I don’t want you to think I hate restaurants though. I love me some date night where I can go to the nearest hot spot and order something I might be too intimidated to cook on my own. I live the San Francisco Bay Area for peet’s sake and I definitely take advantage of that. However, a Tuesday night is not a typical date night for us. A Wednesday lunch doesn’t have to come with a blooming onion. If every day you have your favorite “cheat” food that what makes that day special? Think about this and the next time you see a cooking segment on TV maybe you will pay more attention and your health care budget will thank you.
Stay healthy my friends,
So this is happening. I am joining the blogosphere, as they call it. I would like to take this time to introduce myself and explain why I think you should spend some time following my blog. I really do hope that you get something out of this.
My name is Diana and I grew up and currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I spent my 20's living in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara (go gauchos baby!). My parent's are both from Portugal. While living in LA, I was a personal trainer and also worked as a waitress/bartender in fine dining. I have always been interested in health and food, so going back to school for a Master's in Nutrition to become a registered dietitian nutritionist was a no brainer. I now am married with two kids and I work part-time at a local hospital. At this hospital I noticed that no matter what nutrition related ailment a patient might have, their weight was a contributing factor to their overall health. This realization has driven me to create a private practice of my own with the primary focus of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
So why do a blog you ask? Well, having spent as long as I have in school, going through an internship and then studying for months to be allowed by the state of California to practice medical nutrition therapy, I get annoyed when people put out false information about nutrition. It's a young science, I get it. Because of this things are constantly changing and advice becomes confusing. That is why I am here. I hope to help you make sense out of all the chatter.
Stay healthy my friends,