Welcome to The Dietitian's Corner by Best Choice!

Find out the latest health and organic news from our resident dietitian, Rebecca, along with recipes, tips and more!

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IMPORTANT NOTICE: AWG provides the Dietitian's Corner blogger(s) with free products and compensation for posts.

The content posted here is for general informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Health information changes frequently as research evolves. You should not rely on any information here as a substitute for consultation with medical professionals.

Making the Perfect Picnic Lunch

When the weather is beautiful it seems only fitting to plan a picnic. Whether you’re heading out on a sunny day for lunch or planning a meal under the stars for 4th of July here are a few simple tips to make your picnic relaxing and enjoyable.

 

  1. Plan a menu. There are no right and wrong foods to bring to a picnic but it’s certainly more convenient to plan dishes that travel well and can be made in advance. Try to avoid foods that need a lot of cutting or extra utensils. Ideally, plan finger foods and items that just need a fork. Veggie pasta salads and fruit salad are healthy examples of items that can be packed in a reusable container and easily transported. Nuts are great portable snacks to bring along. Plus, they don’t crush as easily as chips.  Try these recipes:

Picnic Pasta Salad

Honey Lime Fruit Salad

  1. Do your prep work at home. Planning to chop vegetables or fruit at your picnic site can get complicated and messy. Once your food is prepared arrange your containers and beverages that need to go in a cooler together. Bringing a cooler bag or small insulated tote can make transporting your items easier. Have a separate canvas bag for dry goods and food that can be kept at room temperature.
  2. Skip disposable packaging if possible. It’s more environmentally friendly to bring reusable plates and cutlery. Use parchment and twine for sandwiches versus plastic wrap and throwaway containers. Cloth napkins can add a colorful practicality to outdoor dining. Sustainable packaging is also an attractive way to display your foods.
  3. Bring a few simple supplies to be comfortable and festive. A blanket, a few throw pillows (if desired), and a small tray or wood cutting board so you have a flat surface to set cups and plates. When you arrive at your picnic area place your tray or cutting board in the middle to act as a makeshift table.
  4. Enjoy your surroundings. Picnics can take place anywhere. You can be in your backyard, the local park, lakefront or oceanfront. Just be sure to stop and take a moment to enjoy the people and nature surrounding you.
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Celebrate National Dairy Month

June is National Dairy Month. For many years dairy products have been known as an important source of nutrients for growing children. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are excellent sources of protein, vitamin D, and potassium. Just one cup of milk has 8 grams of protein and 25% of the calcium our bodies require for an entire day.

 

Dairy definitely plays a key role in a balanced diet. Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to dairy can help promote heart health and prevent disease.

 

If you are lactose intolerant, many people find that they can still safely enjoy moderate amounts of cheese and plain yogurt. For example, half an ounce of cheese and 1/2 cup of protein-rich yogurt are typically good options on a daily basis for someone who struggles with lactose intolerance.

 

For overall well-being try adding 2-3 servings of dairy to your diet is a positive choice for most people. One serving of dairy is considered one cup of milk, one cup of protein-rich yogurt, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, or 1 oz of cheese. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of leafy greens, nuts, berries, fish, and yogurt can be a wise choice for building muscle and maintaining bone density.

 

Calcium is the most abundant nutrient in our bodies, and one of the richest sources of calcium is cows milk. Calcium not only helps maintain strong bones and teeth but it also helps with communication between our brain and other regulating systems in our body like cardiovascular functioning. Adding more calcium to your diet is easy and delicious.

Here are some recipes to help incorporate dairy into your meal plan from our Clearly Dietitian.

Refried Bean and Cheese Dip

Creamy Tomato Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Mango Berry Smoothie Bowl

Lemony Goat Cheese Dip

Veggie and Cheese Egg Bake

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5 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holiday Season


A big part of any holiday gathering is food. Delicious seasonal appetizers, entrees, and desserts are a festive part of many get-togethers. Holiday favorites are often higher in calories, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip these seasonal treats. It simply means it’s wise to adjust our thinking and expectations around mealtime and snacks during the holiday months.

 

Here are 5 tips for staying healthy during the holiday season:

  1. Be mindful of your appetite. Simply eat when you’re hungry and know how to politely say no when you are full. It takes a few minutes, at mealtime, for your brain to receive the signal that your stomach is full. Allow about 10 to 15 minutes after finishing your plate before you go for seconds.
  2. Choose veggies and fruit at each meal. When a meal is only one food group it tends to be less filling, causing you to eat more. A well-balanced meal helps keep you full and satisfied.
  3. Stay hydrated. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Be sure to drink at least 8 cups of water per day. If you enjoy alcoholic beverages over the holidays try to drink a glass of water between each drink.
  4. Bring healthy foods to holiday gatherings. If you are asked to bring an appetizer or dessert to a party, consider bringing one that is delicious and moderate in calories. Colorful vegetables and fruit-based desserts are beautiful ways to celebrate the holiday season.
  5. Adjust your workout schedule. Because the holidays typically adjust your social calendar and work schedule be sure to plan according to your workout routine as well. Fit in multiple small workouts or workout at home with a new online video.
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Five unique ways to enjoy peaches
August is National Peach Month. Enjoying fresh seasonal fruit can offer your body a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Now is the time to purchase peaches, nectarines, and plums. These delightful and juicy fruits provide your body anti-inflammatory properties and help lower cholesterol levels. Peaches are a particularly versatile fruit. Not only are they a great addition to a salad, but they can also be used in sandwiches, soups, and salsas. Here are 5 unique ways to enjoy peaches.

  1. Add peaches to avocado toast. Toast up your favorite whole grain bread then add avocado slices and ripe peach slices. This makes for a sweet and savory meal.
  2. Peach and goat cheese snack. Ripe peach slices with a little Clearly Organic honey, goat cheese can make a delicious healthy snack or a great appetizer for your next outdoor cookout.
  3. Summer chilled soup. Add peach chunks to your favorite gazpacho recipe or replace the traditional tomato base with peaches.
  4. Grilled cheese sandwich with brie and peach slices. You can add a sweet summer twist to a grilled cheese if you add peach slices, brie, and a little sweet basil.
  5. Peach sweet bread. Peach chunks are a delightful addition to a loaf of sweet bread, pancakes, and waffles.
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Five Health Benefits of Berries

The best part of enjoying berries on a daily basis is that they can be eaten right out of the carton, no preparation required. Just give your berries a good rinse and they can stand alone as a delicious snack or side dish. Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries can also be added to a variety of recipes to provide a sweet and nutritious addition. Most types of berries are considered superfoods. They offer a host of health benefits ranging from disease-fighting antioxidants to anti-aging properties. Here are five health benefits of berries.

  1. Berries have a rich color provided by anthocyanins. These compounds help fight cancer, some metabolic diseases, and diabetes. Anthocyanins also help improve visual ability.
  2. For their size, berries contain a high concentration of fiber. Fiber provides countless digestive health benefits while also aiding in weight loss.
  3. Berries can help reduce inflammation caused by stress and a sedentary lifestyle. The antioxidants in berries may help reduce inflammatory markers decreasing the risk of heart disease.
  4. Strawberries have been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol can be decreased by consuming berries on a daily basis with exercise. This also helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
  5. Berries are low in calories but high in flavor. Therefore, they are a great food to incorporate on any weight management plan.
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National Dairy Month

National Dairy Month

 

June is National Dairy Month. It was established in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk and highlight its beneficial properties. Cow’s milk and dairy products can be very nutritious.  Milk is loaded with vitamins, minerals and key nutrients that build and sustain our muscles, bones and teeth.  Whole cow’s milk offers a little bit of almost everything your body needs such as calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus and the list goes on. Dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese and milk are some of the best sources of calcium available to humans.

Most health professionals recommend getting 2 to 3 servings of dairy per day so we can build and maintain bone health.

 

The nutrient composition of milk can depend on the animal’s diet and living conditions. The fatty acids available through milk can be different depending on the amount of fat in the product (skim vs whole). Cows that are grass fed and have been raised on a pasture typically offer a lot more omega 3 fatty acids conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Grass-fed dairy is also higher in vitamin K which is important for heart and bone health. There are many different varieties of milk available to consumers at local grocery stores. Each option has different benefits depending on a person’s individual needs, allergies and health concerns. During National Dairy Month strive to consume your daily 2 to 3 servings of dairy and consider the nutrition profile of the milk in your refrigerator.

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Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

According to a U.S. News and World Report study, the Mediterranean Diet has stood the test of time for being a universally beneficial eating plan for long-term health. The Mediterranean Diet focuses on consuming food high in omega-3 fatty acids like olive oil, nuts, hearty grains, fish, legumes, vegetables, and fresh fruit. All of these foods offer cardiovascular benefits while also helping balance blood sugar, decreasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. One of the core principals of a Mediterranean Diet is physical activity and a positive sense of community. Some doctors are even known to recommend this eating plan for patients with anxiety and depression. Enjoying increased amounts of vegetables and fresh fruit can help improve your mood and promote digestive health.

One of the biggest differences between a standard American diet and the Mediterranean Diet is the amount of red meat and vegetables that is encouraged. A base protein for the Mediterranean diet is fish and legumes served with a variety of seasonal veggies. While some red meat is consumed it’s not typically an everyday option. The additional omega-3s and nutrients from daily vegetables and fish help those on the Mediterranean diet have a reduced cancer risk. If you desire to improve your eating plan it might be wise to adopt a few principals from the Mediterranean Diet.

 

A Mediterranean Meal Plan For A Day

Breakfast: 2 egg omelet with 1 cup of sautéed vegetables.

Lunch: Avocado toast on whole grain bread topped with tomatoes. 1 cup of berries.

Snack: 1/4 cup olives and 2 Tablespoons raw almonds.

Dinner: 6 oz of salmon served over mixed greens with feta and tomatoes.

 

mediterranean diet
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Can Pasta be Part of a Healthy Meal Plan?

In recent years carbohydrates have been considered friend and foe. During the fat-free phenomenon in the ninety’s bread and pasta where commonly promoted healthy choices for any meal. Then fad diets swung the opposite direction recommending more protein and low carbohydrates. Now many people are left to wonder if carbohydrates can be part of a healthy meal plan?

The short answer is, YES! Carbohydrates, like pasta, when enjoyed in the right portion size are part of a well-balanced meal plan. When it comes to pasta there are a few important factors to consider when implementing this wholesome food into a meal. Consider topping a serving of pasta with equal parts vegetables and protein. For example, 1/2 cup cooked whole wheat pasta pairs well with 1 cup of marinara meat sauce. Then serve that hot dish with a 2 cup serving of a green salad for a delightful well-balanced meal. Also, be mindful of pasta sauces that have high caloric concentrations. Here are three great recipes showing healthy ways to enjoy pasta.

 

Creamy Leeks And Noodles

Healthy Alfredo Sauce

Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

 

See the Clearly Organic blog for more healthy recipes.

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New Food Trends For A New Year

Like most “trendy” items food trends may come and go but some are worth pursuing and implementing into your routine. Luckily healthcare professionals agree that food habits are cycling back to more wholesome natural ingredients. In fact many of the food trends for 2019 include plant based products and unique ways to add more Omega-3’s to your meal plan.

Organic, dairy free and gluten free products are more readily available on store shelves. I do believe this health trend is here to stay. With the uptick in allergies and intolerances the market demands a wide variety of products that are lifestyle specific. In the end some classic food principals remain the same. Our bodies require a balanced diet of vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and fruit. While analyzing the food trends of 2019 keep these core values in mind.

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Seasonal Foods for December

We often think of eating fresh seasonal foods during the summer months. However, December offers a wide variety of flavorful ripe produce. Holiday meals can be more colorful and nutritious with beets, brussels sprouts and butternut squash. All of these vegetables are at their peak of freshness in December. Cauliflower, fennel and mushrooms are also seasonal delights late in the year.

When it comes to fruit, oranges, kiwi and grapefruit are just right during the winter months. Pomegranates, pears and persimmons are also excellent choices in December. All of these fruits make delightful additions to any meal or snack. Next time you’re at the store pick up some of your favorite seasonal produce.

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