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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.

One Dish Meals

Do you ever find yourself short on time when making dinner? Yet you don’t want to compromise preparing a healthy meal for the convenience of a packaged entree. When considering what to make in a pinch try a one dish meal. By combining simple ingredients into one pot or pan you can prepare a healthy and delicious meal.

Your one dish can be a skillet, a roasting pan or a sautéed pan. If you keep lean meats and fresh veggies on hand it’s easy to prepare a balanced meal. Pork chops, chicken breasts or thighs and salmon are great lean proteins for a one dish meal. Sweet potatoes, squash, onions, brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli or cauliflower are some of the best vegetables for roasting with marinated meat. One dish meals are the perfect quick healthy fix. These protein and vegetable based combinations can also be made in advance. If you pre-chop veggies and meat you can let them sit together in a marinade for a day, then your meal is ready for cooking right when you walk in the door.

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Colorful Plate

We all know we should eat a balanced diet. However, it’s difficult to know what that looks like on your plate everyday. One possible guide to good nutrition is focusing on having a colorful plate at each meal. This mantra has been a guide in many diet programs over the years. Health professionals believe that to reap the most benefits from fruits and vegetables we should consume at least one daily serving from each of the five main color groups: blue/purple, green, white, yellow/orange and red.

Blue and purple foods include nutritious items such as blueberries, grapes, egg plant, blackberries and prunes. Green foods could be leafy greens, spinach, kiwi and honey dew melon. The white color group includes cauliflower, onions, garlic, banana, pears and potatoes. Yellow and orange options are carrots, oranges, pineapple, peaches, sweet potato, pumpkin and cantaloupe. Red foods include tomatoes, raspberries, red apples and watermelon. Now just imagine a daily meal plan with foods from each of these color groups paired with lean meats and fish. Focusing on having a colorful plate is a great guide for consuming a balanced diet with an variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Cooking With Quinoa

This ancient grain has grown in popularity in recent years. You might have seen it on the menu at your favorite restaurant. It can be mixed with a variety of foods from omelettes to green salads, quinoa even goes great in baked goods. However, you might be wondering what is so special about this new wonder food? First of all it is an excellent gluten free grain alternative. It has a mild flavor, so it can easily be incorporated into a multitude of recipes.

The protein content of quinoa is also impressive. The best characteristic of this superfood is that it’s considered a complete protein, which means it supplies the body with all nine essential amino acids necessary for optimal health. Our bodies can’t make these nutrients on its own, so we have to consume them frequently through food. Amino acids support muscle growth and strengthen our immune system. Not all plant based proteins offer this kind of nutrition profile. Watch for some new quinoa recipes on the blog soon. Also cheek out:

Herbed Quinoa Burger

Chicken Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad

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Health Benefits Of Cherries

Cherries are known as Americas super fruit. They are not only delicious they’re also loaded with antioxidants that offer us a variety of health benefits. Studies suggest that cherries can help reduce inflammation and reduce risk factors for high cholesterol and diabetes. The sweet nature of this fruit makes it a perfect choice for a daily natural dessert.

There are several different varieties of cherries. The two most common options sold in stores are Bing and Rainier. Bing cherries are characterized by there bold color and purplish red flesh. This is the most abundant variety of cherry sold at the super market. Rainier cherries have yellow or pinkish skin with a milder yet surprisingly sweeter flavor than the traditional Bing cherry. Rainier cherries cost more per pound because most producers wait until the fruit is at its peak of sweetness before picking. This can then cause the cherry to bruise more easily making for a smaller yield of product during their short growing season. However, many consumers say the added price tag is worth it for the stellar creamy flavor of Rainier’s. The peak season for cherries is only a few short months in the summer, so pick up a hearty supply of this super food before they’re gone.

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Food Journaling

If you’ve ever embarked on a weight loss journey, and met with a nutrition or fitness professional, you’ve likely been asked to keep a food journal. It’s a dreaded activity in most peoples opinion. However, if you’ve accepted the challenge to food journal for a few days you’ve likely realized how eye opening and insightful it can be. Journals reveal the source of your calorie consumption. It can also help identify situations or circumstances that cause you to eat too much or to little.

 

In our modern era it’s easy to use online calorie trackers to help estimate your consumption, but a piece of paper and pen still work just as good for showing the reality of your meal plan. Sometimes people think they’re eating adequate amounts of vegetables and fruit, but once they journal a few days they realize they’re only eating one serving of vegetables a day and over 70% of their calories are coming from carbohydrates or processed foods. The simple act of writing down the foods you consume also makes people more aware of portion control. By measuring the cereal you put in the bowl one can become aware that they might be eating more than they think. If you’ve never been challenged to keep a food journal, consider this your opportunity to try it out. It’s time well spent to improve your health.

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Lifestyle Change

Lifestyle changes can take many forms. They can be conscience decisions to change an aspect of your life, like your exercise or eating habits. They can also be sparked by a change in your circumstances that ultimately leads to a shake up in your daily routine. I’ve recently been going through a lifestyle change. My husband and I had a baby on May 21st of this year. Our little girl has enriched and blessed our life beyond measure. However, much like everyone warned me, kids change everything! I don’t wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to go workout. In fact, I’m lucky if I get to the gym. I also don’t have as much time to prepare meals and snacks. I use to love recipes full of unique ingredients and spices, now I much prefer something simple.

 

I say all this not to join the band wagon of “kids are the reason we eat poorly and don’t exercise”. I mention these struggles to point out that I am finding a new way to enjoy my traditional activities of daily living with my little girl. Dinner preparations may be scaled back and simplified for awhile, but cooking with local organic food is something I wish to instill in my child. Therefore, finding easy family friendly recipes is my new passion. You’ll likely see some of these options appear on the Clearly Organic blog. I look forward to sharing this journey and lifestyle change.

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Smoothie Time

Smoothies are great any time of year, but I find myself pulling out the blender far more often in the summer months. Between the availability of seasonal fruit and the cool refreshment of a hydrating drink summer is prime time for smoothie making. Classic smoothie ingredients include yogurt, fruit, juice and ice. However, there are lots of unique items that you can blend in to add flavor and a nutritional boost.

My favorite thing to add to any smoothie is greens. Spinach, kale and even turnip greens add fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals. They may turn the liquid a shade of green or brownish but when blended with fruit and a little orange juice the drink still tastes sweet and refreshing. Other unique smoothie ingredients include oats, wheat germ and almonds. They can add thickness and texture making nuts a nice substitute for yogurt if you’re wanting a dairy free smoothie. Depending on the season avocado, coconut, pumpkin, ginger and any spice for that matter can be mixed in to add thickness and flavor.

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4th of July Favorites

This patriotic holiday is a great time to enjoy all the fresh seasonal fare that midsummer produce has to offer. Blueberries, cherries, sweet corn and melons (just to name a few) are at the peak of flavor and freshness in the beginning of July. So now is the time to incorporate these seasonal foods, and the many other delicious options, into your July 4th celebration.

Here are some ways to add seasonal produce into traditional recipes. Instead of the typical coleslaw, potato salad, hamburgers and hot dogs try these unique spins on family favorites at your next backyard barbecue. All of these recipes can be found on the Clearly Organic website.

Strawberry Slaw

Melon and Mint Salad

Mango Avocado Salsa

Herbed Quinoa Burgers

Picnic Pasta Salad

 

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Summer Snacks

During the warm summer months it’s natural for your body to start craving fresh new meal options. The last thing you want to do on a hot summer day is spend time in an over heated kitchen. Summer months can also lead to more snacking, because the seasonal fare tends to be more water based and light. So, here are some delicious, easy summer snack ideas.

  1. Frozen red grapes and banana slices. These two fruits honestly taste like popsicles when they are enjoyed frozen. You can freeze a ripe (but not over ripe) banana whole with the peel on, or slice in advance and place in a sealed container. Red grapes simply need to be washed, patted dry with a paper towel then placed in a ziplock bag in the freezer. These are great alternatives to sugary desserts, especially for kids!
  2. Cottage cheese and berries. A half cup of cottage cheese goes great mixed with a 1\2 cup of fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and even pineapple!
  3. Avocado toast. Summer is prime time for avocado. 1/2 an avocado sliced on toasted sprouted grain bread is an excellent way to refresh in the summer.
  4. Cantaloupe and prosciutto. A perfect happy hour snack! Cut a cantaloupe into chunks then wrap a thin slice of prosciutto around a piece. It’s a great blend of natural carbohydrate with protein.
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Grilling Fish

The lingering smell of cooking on the grill is one of my favorite signs of summer. There is a classic lineup of foods that we consider grill items. Hamburgers, hotdogs, steak and brats belong on any grill during the summer months. Another delicious and nutritious item for the grill is seafood. However, fish can scare off the novice grill master because of its tendency to stick to the grates or overcook. Here are some tips to avoid both of these common issues.

  1. Make sure your grill is clean and well oiled before you begin. Clean off the grill grates with a wire brush before and after cooking fish. Before starting your grill brush the grates with olive oil using a rag dipped in oil to ensure that its well coated.
  2. The best cuts of fish for the grill are a 1 inch thick piece of salmon, arctic char, swordfish or halibut. Large shrimp (or prawns) go great on the grill as well, smaller shrimp can also be placed on a kebab stick and grilled. This will prevent the smaller shrimp from falling in between the grates. Some fish like flounder and tilapia may be to thin to place directly on the grill, so place them in a greased foil basket.
  3. Since fish is more delicate than your typical grill meat its best to grill the fish first then brush on your marinade. The flesh can break down and possibly fall apart if marinated first. A post grill marinade will keep the texture intact and still deliver loads of flavor.
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