8/26/11

Endless Salad... creations

The other night Karel and I had a date at Ruby Tuesday's. We rarely eat out (and when I say rarely, I mean once or twice every 4-5 months). I had a coupon for Ruby Tuesdays and I was really excited to spend some time with my hubby, with no distractions (like computer or TV...although I don't mind being distracted by my furry best friend) and to enjoy some "occasional" foods and not have to do the cooking.
I always enjoy a good salad bar because of the many selections of pre-chopped foods..that I didn't have to chop.
But, I am always careful to recognize that salad bars are often criticized for outbreaks of food borne illnesses. I would recommend being mindful of possibly consuming food borne bacteria as the result of anyone other than yourself preparing and serving food, so it is important to keep food safety as a number one priority when consuming food outside the home. Even though food borne bacteria can come from food inside the home, at least you know exactly how the food was stored and prepared.
Believing the food nourishes our body, I feel as if my immune system is extremely strong (I can't recall the last time I had a flu shot or got sick, however I do have a few vaccines since I now work in the hospital). Despite working in a hospital and training for an Ironman, I try very hard to make good decisions on a daily basis in order to boost, and not decrease, my immune system. My diet is "colorful" and filled with a variety of vitamins and minerals, I get quality sleep on most days during the week, I try to minimize stress, I wash my hands all the time, I surround myself with people who give me energy (and not take it away from me), I receive lots of love in my life (and lots of love to give to others) and I focus on balance with everything I do in life.

While at Ruby Tuesday's I was delighted to see the Fit and Trim selections on the back of the menu. While I was only planning on only eating the salad bar (which includes quality protein like eggs and edemame), I couldn't pass up the veggie trio for only $1 more than the price of the salad bar!! I was able to pick 3 side items from the menu, in addition to eating the endless salad bar.

















For my selections, I wanted to choose foods that I normally don't prepare or consume on a daily basis. I ordered spaghetti squash, grilled zucchini and sweet potato fries.

























I don't know why I don't prepare more squash and zucchini but I guess I haven't yet learned to appreciate them in my diet yet (that is what I say to foods that I don't really eat a lot of, but I know they are good for my body). As for the sweet potato fries...I haven't met a sweet potato fry that I don't like. Although Ruby Tuesday, along with most restaurants and fast food facilities, includes a very high amount of sodium in most of their foods, I was very impressed that my three selections did not taste salty. Because I do not eat out, minimize processed food in my diet and don't use a salt shaker, both Karel and myself are very sensitive to salt and while some people may add salt to already salted food, I often can hardly stand the taste of food that is heavily salted. It's amazing that although we get use to the tastes of certain foods, we can also change our tastes (and cravings) while incorporating more wholesome food in our diet.
Here's the menu for Ruby Tuesday's with nutritional info:

Ruby Tuesday Nutritional Info



Because I am always inspired by salads, as there are endless salad "creations", I hope you enjoy my latest "crunchy" salad.

Crunchy sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic salad

Frozen Hashbrowns
Olive oil
Mushrooms
Onions
Garlic
Tomatoes
Swiss cheese
Dark Greens

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Spread hashbrowns on large cookie sheet. Toss with a generous drizzle of olive oil and spread into a thin layer to cover sheet.
3. Bake hasbrowns until golden brown (around 20 minutes).
4. While hashbrowns are baking, pre-heat medium skillet to medium heat.
5. Add ~1/2 tbsp olive oil with chopped garlic.
6. When garlic begins to brown, add mushrooms, largely cut steak tomatoes and garlic and drizzle with a little more olive oil (~2 tsp) if needed.
7. Cook until veggies turn golden brown.
8. In a large bowl, place greens and top with veggies, then hashbrowns. Sprinkle with cheese (shredded brick cheese).







8/24/11

Did you eat your plants today?

There's nothing more exciting than receiving a new journal or magazine in the mail. I subscribe to several newsletters, journals and magazines which provide factual and reputable information from topics of vegetarian nutrition, environmental nutrition and consumer health, as well as having subscriptions to Triathlete magazine and LAVA magazine.
As a recently credentialed RD, it is my responsibility to the profession to provide information that is backed by scientific research. Although my registration qualification to provide nutrition advice is backed-up by the Commission on Dietetic Registration registration, we all have the right to provide our opinion when it comes to nutrition, fitness and exercise. However, I find it important that when you provide your opinion on a certain topic related to nutrition, you are careful not to use conclusive words such as "CAN'T", "WILL", "NEVER" as well as negative words like "BAD", "CHEAT", "OFF LIMIT". Telling someone that they "WILL" get cancer if they eat meat or that they "CAN'T" eat bread if they want to lose weight, are not statements that are scientifically proven by research. Sure, they may be research studies available which support the claim, but research is always changing and for most of us, it's really, really hard to keep up with all the research. Plus, we don't function in a laboratory so we must be able to take research with an open mind (and read the entire research study - not just the title) because we live in an ever-changing world.
However, one topic that continues to show great validation is on the topic of plant-based diets. There is a large quantity of information showing that increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is beneficial not only for your short and long term health but also for weight loss and maintenance. Rather then telling people that they "CAN'T" eat meat (which I would never do..not to mention that my hubby and family are not vegetarians), I like to suggest to emphasize a plant-based diet in order to incorporate more color into your diet.
Certainly, there are people in our society with food intolerance's and allergies, malabsorption issues as well as cultural food preferences/choices. We must respect one another for being special and unique but we can not assume that consuming well-marketed processed food, will help increase longevity, reduce risk for disease/illness, boost immune system, maximize performance or help with body composition changes. I am finding that the more processed food available to consumers, the less desire there is to eat fruits and veggies. I question the need to have FIBER-marketed granola bars when the produce aisle is just a few rows away from the massive granola-bar aisle. My advice, stop spending time reading food labels as to which granola bar has the most fiber, least amount of ingredients, least amount of sodium, highest amount of protein, least amount of fat, least amount of calories and most about of vitamins and minerals. At 100 calories, 1 medium pear will provide you with 5 grams of fiber and no added ingredients.
On this topic, this makes me so sad as our body relies on the vitamins and minerals from plant-based foods in order to properly function, but people continue to gravitate to processed food. So while we should aim for balance and work on developing a healthy relationship with food, do not forget that a plant-based diet, complemented with whole grains, quality protein, healthy fats and water, is the easiest way to help you feel your best at every moment in life.

In my latest issue of Today's Dietitian August 2011, there was a great news bite on pg 62, titled Vegetarian diet may protect against diverticular disease
As an acute care clinical dietitian, I come across many patient experiencing diverticular disease as well as diverticulitis. Both have to do with pouches (diverticula) in the intestine, becoming inflammed. Although there are several risk factors for divertiuclar disease, it seems as though a low fiber diet may be the culprit of many "tummy" issues, such as bloating, being gassy and feeling "too full", in the normal population. While we prescribe a high fiber diet for our patients with diverticular disease (for diverticulitis we start with a liquid diet, typically clear liquids, and gradually increase fiber when medically feasible), it would be in your favor to aim for the recommended 25-35g of daily fiber to encourage regular bowel movements and overall gastrointestinal health.
Here's the article...enjoy!

Vegetarians are one-third less likely than their meat-eating counterparts to develop diverticular disease, according to a study published on the BMJ website.
Diverticular disease affects the large bowel or colon, and lack of fiber consumption is believed to be its cause. Typical symptoms include painful abdominal cramps, loating, gas, constipation and diarrhea.
Previous research has suggested that a low-fiber diet could lead to diverticular disease and that vegetarians may have a lower risk of developing it compared with meat eaters, but there's little evidence to substantiate this.
Researchers from the Cancer Epidemiology Unity at the University of Oxford examined the link between a vegetarian diet and dietary fiber intake with the risk of diverticular disease. Their findings are based on 47,033 generally health-conscious British adults who were taking part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Oxford study. Of those recruited, 15,459 reported consuming a vegetarian diet.
After an average follow-up time of 11.6 years, there were 812 cases of diverticular disease (806 hospital admissions and six deaths). After adjusting for factors such as smoking, alcohol, and BMI, vegetarians had a lower risk of developing diverticular disease compared with meat eaters.
Furthermore, participants with a relatively high intake of dietary fiber (around 25g/day) had a lower risk of being admitted to the hospital with or dying from diverticular disease compared with those who consumed less than 14g of fiber per day.
Consuming a vegetarian diet and a high intake of dietary fiber are both associated with a lower risk of diverticular disease, according to the authors. They concluded that these findings lend support to the public health recommendations that encourage the consumption of foods high in fiber, such as whole grain breads, whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables.

8/23/11

Plate Not Pills: calcium
















Since the training season for triathlons is reaching its peak, I have been working with many athletes on nutrition. Although I focus on both daily nutrition and training nutrition in order to maximize performance gains and minimize GI (tummy) distress, I enjoy fine-tuning the daily diet in order to help my athletes experience the most physiological training adaptations with the least amount of training stress. In my opinion, a balanced training/exercise plan with the right mental attitude is the perfect combination to experiencing a fun journey of appreciating food for fuel.

I hope you enjoy my latest article in LAVA online. Be sure to check out the recipe for chocolate mousse...yum! I didn't come up with this creations but it looks fabulous and I can't wait to try it out!!

Plates Not Pills: Calcium - LAVA Magazine

8/22/11

Monday Food (product) Review


Last week was a productive training week. I was a little confused on my training because I was feeling rested after several "active recovery" days. I discussed with Karel his focus of last week (as I thought it was a build week) and to my surprise, it was a recovery week and I didn't even know it! I had previously discussed with Karel that after two weeks of build, I really needed a few days recovery because I was feeling tired and really needed some time to reflect in order to keep my mind sharp for the last 1 1/2 months of training. Karel gave me the fantastic news that I would have a full week of recovery and I ended the week with only 1 "intense" brick on wed, 3 great swims and two bike-focused brick workouts over the weekend (no long run). The focus for the weekend was to put everything together. Karel did an excellent job knowing exactly what I could handle at this point in my training and my workouts were just perfect... nothing that I couldn't handle.

On Sunday, Karel and I went to an afternoon pool party with our close friends Mallory and Tyler (thanks to Tyler's parents who allowed us to enjoy their beautiful backyard and pool!), Katrine (her hubby Ryan had to work :( ) and Kari and Adam, with their two beautiful twins.
Each person/couple brought a side item and Tyler's parents grilled chicken and burgers for everyone. Here are some of my favorites that I'd like to share...although I enjoyed EVERY bite of EVERY dish (especially Tyler's mom's potato salad and Keri and Adam's filo dough stuffed with goat cheese and sauteed onions).

Broccoli Slaw
Katrine made a delicious Broccoli Slaw with sliced Strawberries, cucumbers and tossed in a vinaigrette dressing. I think she may have added sliced almonds as well. The broccoli slaw is one of my favorites and I buy it all the time at Publix and Wal-mart. It is made with carrots, broccoli and red cabbage.


















Savory apple quinoa
After many hours on the bike this weekend, I had the chance to come up with this TriMarni Creation. I am so happy that everyone enjoyed it at the pool party and it was a perfect sweet, yet "light" dish to be served as a side on a hot summer day.
I cooked 1 cup quinoa in 1 1/2 cups boiling water in large pot. I reduced water to low after I added the quinoa to the boiling water and then covered. Cook for 5-6 minutes, then fluff with fork. Cook according to package.
In a separate pot, heated to low heat, I added 1 spoonful butter (about 1 1/2 tbsp) to pan and added 1 extra large light green apple (chopped). I then added 1 spoonful (about 1-2 tbsp) brown sugar to the pot and mixed. I added about 2 tbsp water at this time. I covered the pot and let the apple soak up the butter and sugar for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the apple was soft, I turned off heat and added the apple mixture to the quinoa and sprinkled with few dashes of cinnamon. Toss well and serve chilled.
Nuts would be optional but I wanted a little crunch to this dish. I would have normally chopped the almonds but because I wanted the babies to enjoy the dish (they are almost 1 year old) I kept the nuts whole so Kari and Adam could pick them out.





















Bruschetta Tomato Basil Parmesan Veggie Burger
I don't do a lot of vegetarian burgers in my daily diet, however, I do enjoy the taste of a veggie-filled, soy protein based, grilled veggie burger (especially when I am traveling and seeking some protein in my meal).
As a vegetarian, I try to not make my life complicated when it comes to eating around others. Of course, my close friends (at the party) know me extremely well and are so kind to ask me what I want/need to eat since I don't "do" meat. Bringing a veggie burger to a party/event is a simple way to make me feel satisfied with my food so that I don't have to just eat "veggies". While I strive for balance in my meal, I also want to enjoy similar foods as everyone else (taking my own personal dietary preferences into consideration).
My grilled veggie burger on a whole grain bun, topped with dark green romaine, tomatoes, onions and swiss cheese, was just perfect for my hungry belly.



















The amazing spread of food......almost 90% was prepared with wholesome ingredients. YUM!!



















My beautiful plate...SO YUMMY!!!