Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day?

True or false: breakfast is the most important meal of they day? Most important? Well, it is pretty important but, being one of four children that would be like my mother publically admitting that I am her favorite (which is true, however for the sake of my brothers egos, let’s just say that we are all special). Anyways, yes breakfast is an important meal.

Probably one of the better pieces of nutrition advice would be to eat breakfast, however that does not give you free range to just eat anything for the sake of saying that you eat breakfast…

And you of course do not need to do this everyday either…

The key is to eat a good breakfast.

So what constitutes a “good” breakfast?
Breakfast, as for any meal, should incorporate some fruits and/or veggies, whole grains, and protein. Now, this could take on a variety of looks depending on your food preferences. Yes, this could include bacon..

…just don’t make it an everyday thing.

This could also be oatmeal, smoothies, cereal, granola bars, yogurt, trail mix, pb & j, leftover lasagna, turkey sandwich, or whatever your little heart desires. Hey, not all people like breakfast foods so don’t judge.

Why is breakfast important?
The reason why breakfast is important is not because there is something magical about eggs, bacon, or lucky charms (despite what that little leprechaun says)…

…rather it is the timing of breakfast. To help explain this, think of your body as a car. You need to fill up your gas tank (or plug in your car for those of you with hybrids) to give it the energy to run, otherwise you will end up stuck along side of the road in the middle of nowhere. I think you know where I am going with on this, but I am going to continue to ramble on. Your body has to “run” on whenever you last ate, be it dinner or a snick snack, until the morning. If you miss your morning "fill up" you are not going to make it far. Not only can this lead to overeating when you actually do eat, it slows down your metabolism. This will slow you down energy wise and if you are like me, you get hangry and can't focus.

What about juice?
Everybody thinks that juice is healthy and then proceed to fill up an entire glass. Juice, like olive oil, has some good qualities to it, but that doesn't mean you should eat/drink a ton of it. Yes, there are some vitamins and minerals (and fiber if you take pulp in your oj) in juice, however it contains quite a bit of sugar. Juice, like other beverages that contain sugar are best in moderation, and by moderation I mean 1/2 cup a day if at all.

The truth about muffins, pancakes, doughnuts
My thoughts about all of the above can be summed up by the image below…

The same could be said for panCAKEs. I mean just because we put the word pan in front of cake does not make it not a cake.

Case in point, angel food cake. Do all angels eat angel food cake? Well, despite being my mother’s favorite, I am no angel.  However, for the sake of this blog, let’s just say I am an angel. Angel food cake would not be the food of choice and I don't know what is so angelic about it. To really just round out your education today, here is a grammar tip for you. Grammar tip of the day: angel is the thing with wings and angle is found in squares and triangles. Anyways, the same could be said for muffins. To quote Jim Gaffigan again, "muffins are just bald cupcakes."

Breaking it down
EAT BREAKFAST! Even if you aren’t hungry or you don’t typically eat breakfast, just appease me and nibble on at least something! Shoot for something with fruits and/or veggies, whole grains, and protein. Take it easy on the bacon and other breakfast meats because they are high in saturated fat and don’t fall for the whole pancake, muffin, doughnut thing. Now if you will excuse me, I need to see where I can get a pair of those fab dishwashing gloves Lady Gaga wore to the Oscars...

Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Last week I was given some samples of kombucha to try. The person who gave it to me figured I would like it because I am a Registered Dietitian, and am therefore a health nut. Ok so maybe those assumptions are fair. Anyways,  I have had kombucha before, but I was not entirely sure of  all the “health benefits” of drinking it, so being the dork that I am, yours truly did a little research on this for you!

What is kombucha? (kom-boo-cha)
Essentially, kombucha is fermented black and/or green tea. Usually producers add fruit and/or herbs to add more flavor.
What does it taste like?
Well, it is acidic and sour. You could describe it as a little vinegary. The taste of kombucha varies between producers and if any fruits and/or herbs are used. For example, I have a goji ginger one sitting on my desk. Also of note, it is naturally fizzy from the fermentation process.

How is it made?
Take black or green tea then dump in some sugar, yeast, and bacteria, and let it ferment. As I mentioned before, fruit and/or herbs can be added to give more flavor.

Yes, you can be a real Susie Homemaker and make your own, however, I would be very careful if you attempt to make this at home because it could go down hill very fast leaving your house smelling like vinegar or something even worse. Oh and not to mention you could grow the “bad” bacteria and give yourself food poisoning. I mean even though it is February and not very pleasant to be outside, I would rather not be spending my time in the bathroom.

What are the Health Benefits?
Well, there have been several health claims for kombucha, such as cancer fighter, reverses aging, and prevents disease...please don't get your hopes up THAT high.

Pretty much all of the claims made in the picture above are unproven. There really isn’t much evidence at all on how kombucha affects the body. Is there some benefit to drinking it? Maybe, but you definitely won't drop 10 pounds overnight or cure cancer with it. Could it boost your energy? Maybe, but it could also be a placebo effect.

Some of the more plausible claims would be helping the digestive system and strengthening your immune system. Kombucha does contain live cultures (read: bacteria) like yogurt and kefir do. Some of these cultures are probiotics. Probiotics aid digestion and  there is some evidence that suggests that they may strengthen the immune system. Oh and they keep you regular...thanks Jamie Lee Curtis...

Don’t let the whole regularity thing and bacteria get you grossed out. Bacteria not all bacteria are bad. We have bacteria all over our bodies and a ton of them within our digestive system. The ones in our digestive system help us breakdown food particles that we cannot digest on our own. 

Kombucha does have a very miniscule amount of alcohol in it but even if you drank a ton of it, you don’t need to worry about it.

Should I drink it?
If you like it and feel that it provides some sort of benefit to you, whether it be more energy or it "detoxifies you", then have at it. Could it be the komucha? Maybe, but it could very well just be a placebo effect as well. Moral of the story: it isn’t going to hurt you and chances are it isn’t going to save you either. It does contain some sugar in it, so as with any sugar sweetened beverage, don’t over do it. 

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go hide from Bumble...

Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bless Your Heart: Heart Healthy Foods

February is National Heart Awareness Month, which is why you may have noticed these red dresses all around campus and Charlotte, that is if you haven’t been in a daze due to your seasonal depression…

If you were like me and were wondering why we should only go red for women and not men, it is because heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S., not because men don’t have hearts.

What is heart disease?
The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type is coronary heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack, angina (chest pain), heart failure, and death. The only good thing about heart disease is that it is both preventable and controllable. I guess maybe the second good thing is that heart disease, unlike ebola, it is not contagious so don’t sweat it the next time the person on the bus next to you coughs on you; you will be fine…in terms of not catching heart disease anyways.

How can I prevent heart disease?
I am sure that is the burning question on your mind right now…well unless you are a fellow Kardashian fan such as myself.  Anyways, I can only help you out with the heart disease question. Now prepare yourself for this “groundbreaking” news on how you can prevent heart disease. Are you ready for it?!? Here goes…eat healthy, exercise, and avoiding tobacco products! Mind blown?

Ok so probably not, but you may be wondering what foods you can eat to help out the old ticker. Well, it is your lucky day!

Heart Healthy Foods…
Contrary to popular belief, there is more to this than just eating your fruits and vegetables. Some of the qualities that make food heart healthy include: low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and salt/sodium. Also, foods high in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3s are good for the heart as well.

…In Lay Terms
Now I don’t expect most people to automatically know what foods to eat based on the above paragraph so let me lay it out for you.
  • Salmon and Tuna: Good source of omega-3s and lower in saturated fat than red meat. 
  • Chicken: If you are going to have meat and are not fond of seafood, you could swap out red meat for chicken. Chicken is leaner, containing less fat than red meat.
  • Legumes (aka beans):If you wanted to really take it to heart (yes, corny pun I know) you could swap meat for legumes, which contain no fat and are high in fiber. 
  • Whole Grains: Oatmeal, whole wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, etc. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, which helps the old ticker deal with cholesterol.
  • Fruits & Vegetables: This shouldn’t be much of a shocker to you. Fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. With the exception of the avocado, they contain no fat. . Yes avocados do contain fat, but it is the good type of fat and packs some omega-3s.
  • Nuts & Seeds: Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, are a good source of fiber, protein, and omega-3s. Side bar: Flax seeds do contain omega-3s but your body cannot digest the seed (read: you do not absorb any of the omega-3s) so make sure you grind them.
Foods to Avoid
  • Salty Foods: Processed foods, deli meats, canned vegetables and soups, frozen meals, and pizza are just a few of the usual suspects that contain a lot of sodium, which can increase your blood pressure.
  • Red Meat: Red meat is higher in saturated fat and cholesterol so opt for seafood or poultry. Perhaps you could even be a “hippy” for a meal and skip the meat!
  • Alcohol: Not only can alcohol lead to poor food (and life) decisions, but can also increase your blood pressure, which makes your heart work a little harder
  • Caffeine: Have you ever downed one too many cups of coffee, espresso, or energy drinks and started having chest pains, making you feel like your heart is going to beat out of your chest? Yeah, that’s not good. Needless to say lots of caffeine is not the best thing for your heart.
“I read that chocolate is good for your heart”
Before you dig into that chocolate cake or candy bar, let me enlighten you. While there have been some recent studies that have shown benefits to eating chocolate and heart health, it is not that simple. To start with, it is not just any type of chocolate, but dark chocolate with about 70% cocoa content. The cocoa adds more antioxidants, which are the main players in chocolate that benefits the heart. You know what else is high in antioxidants? Fruits and vegetables. Anyways, chocolate, even dark chocolate, does contain sugar and fat so it is best to consume in moderation.

“What about olive oil?”
Olive oil is good for your heart in that it contains the good type of fat and omega-3s. Does that mean you should add a ton of it to whatever dish you are making? No! Along those same lines, just because olive oil is added to something does not make that product any better/healthier. Case in point (see below): Yes, this mayonnaise has olive oil in it but it is still mayonnaise, which is high in fat (not the good kind of fat either).

Until next time! Oh and…

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to Not do a Superbowl Commercial

 Let me very clear, the only reason I watch the Superbowl is for the commercials and the halftime show, not actually to watch the game. Its not that I hate football, I just prefer college football. Anyways, I must say that I was very underwhelmed the halftime show with Katy Perry about to be attacked by dancing sharks…

Only to be saved by none other than Missy Elliott…

After Missy snapped me out of the twilight zone filled with dancing beach balls and surf boards, I was back to reality and more commercials. Out of all of the commercials, I did find one that intrigued me, and by intrigued I mean annoyed...I found one that annoyed me as a Dietitian. (Warning: I am about to step on my soapbox.)  What commercial you ask? That commercial would be this commercial from McDonald's called the Unapologetic Big Mac:

Now, I am no marketing whiz, but I am not sure what McDonald’s was trying to accomplish with this commercial besides shoot themselves in the foot. Yes, I believe that just about everybody and their grandma knows that McDonald’s does not offer the healthiest of foods, despite their feeble attempts at adding salads and apple slices to the menu.

Personally, as both a foodie and a vegetarian, I was slightly offended. Do I eat soy, quinoa, kale, and greek yogurt? Yes I occasionally do, but that doesn’t mean those are the only things I eat and no, I don’t feel cool just because I do eat those things. 

Setting my own personal dietary preferences aside, the reason this bothers me is because how it influences society and our food norms. This commercial feeds into the somewhat negative stereotypes that foodies and vegetarians are weird hipsters that only eat soy, quinoa, kale, etc. They are "health nuts."

We are a country that is in the midst of an obesity epidemic, which costs us somewhere in the ballpark of $192 BILLION a year, and you spend millions to in effect shame those who are trying to eat a little better. Really McDonald's really?!? Is McDonald’s solely to blame for obesity? Was the Superbowl halftime show good? No, but McDonald's can be a part of the solution.

Staying on this soapbox, this commercial also incites some level of food neophobia. Don’t act like you are not impressed with my use of the word neophobia J Anyways, food neophobia is the fear of trying new, unfamiliar foods. In the weird little world that is inside my head, this is how this commercial affects people. After seeing McDonald’s knock kale and quinoa, when people are offered kale and/or quinoa that have never had it before, they laugh and turn it down. I mean, kale and quinoa is obviously only for hippies. 

Now I am going to flip this situation and really just blow your mind. Let’s pretend we all live on a far away planet called, oh I don’t know, Utopia. Now on Utopia, everybody eats kale and quinoa, not many people eat burgers. One day a food company, McKale, advertises how great its kale and quinoa is, and bashes burgers and people who are burger eaters. People who eats kale and quinoa, would feel more justified and better about their food choices than those weird burger eaters. Burgers are definitely for weirdos.

So what is your point Beth?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say that McDonald’s should start serving kale and quinoa, they are after all a burger joint. However, I don’t think they should stigmatize people who are trying to eat healthier. As a billion dollar company, they have the means to positively affect our dietary habits and food norms. We need to make eating healthy the cool, sexy thing to do, which we can do through advertising and marketing. I mean kale anyone?

Can I personally change McDonald’s or any other fast food place? Nope, but what I can do is “vote” with where I choose to spend my money when eating out. Not that I eat a ton of fast food, but when I do, I will gladly pay a little more for a better quality product and for a company whose practices I agree with. (Steps off soapbox)

Well I am off to start a petition to bring Beyonce back for next year’s Superbowl halftime…I mean home girl broke the Superdome and I bet that Beyonce eats kale. Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,