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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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.

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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Making Healthy Choices During The Holidays

Striking the right balance with food, family time, fun and relaxation around the holidays is not easy. Even if we have good intentions to eat healthier and exercise during the Christmas season we usually lose sight of that goal the minute the first cookie platter shows up. Here are a few simple tips to help you stay motivated during the busy holiday season.

  1. Plan ahead. As you put more holiday events in your schedule be sure to also put your workout time in your calendar. Picking a day and time for exercise makes it far more likely to happen. Planning ahead also means keeping your kitchen well stocked with fresh vegetables and lean protein. Pre-chopping veggies or cooking meals in advance helps most people consume a more portion controlled balanced diet.
  2. Try something new. Allow the change in your daily routine to bring change to your exercise regimen. Try a new class at the gym, sample some new YouTube workout videos or hire a personal trainer for the month.
  3. Stay moving. Even if you can’t get in a structured workout you can always do a few sit ups, push ups or squats. Start your days with a quick heart rate jump by doing 30 squats, jumping jacks and some leg lifts.
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Cooking with Tahini

Tahini is ground up toasted sesame seeds. This, now widely used, ingredient originates from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s also the latest trendy food that’s being drizzled on top of a variety of dishes. You might have recognized tahini from its regular appearance in hummus. However it’s the perfect addition to salad dressing, sauces, cookies, cakes and soup. Tahini offers a rich and nutty flavor with a smooth texture that pairs well with ancient grains and just about any vegetable.

Cooking with tahini is fun and easy. A simple yet versatile tahini sauce can be a goto dip, dressing or even something unique to swirl into a brownie mix for a rich nutty flavor. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for lots of recipes featuring tahini.

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Making Organic Soup

A great way to embrace the coming winter months is by making a hearty soup loaded with seasonal favorites. It’s also comforting to know you can make your next batch of soup or stew completely organic. A wide variety of organic tomatoes sauces, diced tomatoes, corn and other canned goods are now readily available.

To make organic soup simply look for your favorite veggies in the organic variety. Then, if you’re wanting meat in your soup, buy organic grass fed beef or free range chicken. Lastly, seek out organic canned tomatoes, beans, broth and corn. Watching for low sodium and no salt added canned goods is also wise. Lowering the sodium in a can of beans is easy if you place the contents of the can in a colander then throughly rinse the beans. Check out the Clearly Organic blog for an organic chili recipe!

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Cooking with Turmeric

The root spice turmeric has long been a steady force in Caribbean and Indian cuisine. Now that Americans are becoming more health conscience, consumers are looking for foods with anti-inflammatory properties and active ingredients that offer beneficial nutrients. Turmeric is actually a root, much like ginger, that has a deep golden color. Ground turmeric can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores. Here are five ways to implement turmeric to your meal plan.

  1. Add 1 teaspoon to your favorite smoothie for added flavor and nutrients.
  2. Sauté vegetables with coconut oil and turmeric. Studies show that combining turmeric with black pepper and a fat source like olive oil or coconut oil can improve the absorption of turmerics nutrients. Thus enhancing its ability to fight cancer, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
  3. Add color and nutrition to rice with turmeric. Place 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon in the water when cooking your favorite rice variety.
  4. Sprinkle turmeric over the top of hummus for added flavor.
  5. Add extra nutrients to boxed mac and cheese by adding turmeric to the cheese sauce.

 

 

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Making the Most of Pumpkin Season

Pumpkin centric recipes are a theme this time of year. From lattes to bread and soup to casseroles, pumpkin becomes a staple ingredient in October. The beautiful thing about pumpkin is its versatility and its nutritional value. Pumpkin offers vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium which have multiple heart health benefits and the ability to help lower blood pressure.

Easy and delicious ways to add pumpkin to your diet is by adding roasted pumpkin chunks to veggie dishes or casseroles. Pumpkin seeds also go great atop salad, yogurt and smoothie bowls. Desserts flavored with pumpkin aren’t necessarily the best way to add nutrients to your meal plan. However, using pumpkin purée as a substitute for butter or oil in baked goods is a great way to incorporate vegetables to smoothies or sweet breads. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for pumpkin recipes throughout the month of October!

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How to Make a Healthy Cream Sauce

As the comfort food season approaches it’s good to know there are healthy and delicious options for making pasta and veggie dishes creamy and flavorful. Cream sauces have a reputation for being high calorie and high fat options. However, there are multiple ways to make a creamy recipe health conscious and crowd pleasing.

One way to make a healthy cream sauce is to use vegetable broth and Greek yogurt as a base. Another all natural dairy free choice is to use avocados and olive oil as the primary cream source. Both of these options provide healthier fats and fewer calories verses using heavy cream. Watch the Clearly Organic blog to learn how to combine these ingredients into a deliciously healthy cream sauce.

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