From Farm To Table

I had the chance to go to the soft opening for a new restaurant in Indianapolis, The Next Door Eatery. This farm to table restaurant was created by Kimbal Musk. His philosophy is to bring healthy, fresh food from local farmers to you the customer. This restaurant opened up on 46th and College not far from where I live. I was super excited when I heard about this restaurant, because it was going into an old building and on a corner that needed some love. I think that with this restaurant the rest of that block is going to get a face lift and will be a popular destination in Broad Ripple.

I had the opportunity to hear Kimbal Musk speak at the Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Chicago this last October. I was very excited to get to hear about Kimbal's journey with food and what his goals are for his restaurants. Fun fact, Kimbal's mother is a Dietitian. That is pretty neat in my opinion. He was a great speaker and has been helping to fund some really need food/farming ventures. 

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So if you were wondering what makes this restaurant unique ... I pulled some information from their website that I just had to share. This is a quote from their website - "Next Door is an urban casual American eatery serving real food sourced from American farmers. Here at Next Door we're committed to serving real food and dedicated to environmentally-friendly practices such as composting, wind power, eco-friendly packaging, and recycling. " Besides trying to provide food to customers from local growers, this restaurant also works to help provide nutrition education in schools. This is another quote from their website - "Next Door strives to be an integral part of the community and that starts with schools. Next Door partners with The Kitchen Community, a non-profit organization that builds outdoor Learning Gardens classrooms in schools across America. Thank you for eating at Next Door to help build Learning Gardens in your local schools."  

We ate at Next Door for lunch last week and it was delicious. We had a ton of fun trying lots of things on the menu. My son loved the appetizer portion of beets. My parents and I ordered all different dishes and we tried some tacos, the fried fish and a chicken bowl. It was all amazing and the restaurant had such a good atmosphere. There is outdoor patio space and it is kid friendly as well. I am excited to walk over there and enjoy some amazing food and delicious drinks all year long.

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Asparagus and That Stinky Smell

One of my favorite vegetables is asparagus. I love it because it is easy to cook and tastes delicious. It looks fun and can even serve as a "fancy" side dish for a nice dinner. It is a pretty green color and contains lots of vitamins and minerals that are good for your body. But what happens after you enjoy your asparagus with dinner? Have you ever noticed that terrible smell when you urinate? It is terrible! It is almost stinky enough that it might make you reconsider enjoying asparagus, as a vegetable at your next meal. 

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So why does that happen? How does it work? I have asked this of myself every time I cook, eat and urinate after consuming asparagus.There is a compound that is only found in asparagus and they have called it asparagusic acid. This is a sulfur containing compound (mercaptan), which explains that terrible odor that occurs in your urine after eating asparagus. Mercaptan is also found in rotten eggs, onions and garlic. It is thought about 22-50% of people are able to smell this compound.

This asparagusic acid compound is "volatile." That does not mean it will explode, but it means that the compound is easily airborne and floats up to your nose very quickly. This means that you can perceive this odor within 15 minutes of eating asparagus spears.

This has prompted the debt about if some people's body produce asparagusic acid compared with the idea that maybe your nose can not smell this compound. After some studies in the 1980s in France and Israel, found that the difference is in the perception of the this asparagusic odor compared with production on this compound. So it is thought that everyone produces this compound, but not all of us came smell it. So some people might not have the olfactory sensors to perceive this sulfur-like smell. They have some genetic mutation that prevents them from smelling this odor. A study was done, by a researcher at Harvard, that included 7,000 participated and out of that group 40% could smell that "stinky odor" after eating asparagus. That left 4,161 who were unable to smell that asparagusic acid. They contribute that inability to smell that compound to some combination of a possible 871 gene variations affecting that sensitivity in the nose. 

So in the end there isn't a clear reason why people can or can't perceive that terrible stink after eating asparagus. There is even doubt on the exact type of compound that makes that distinct odor. In the end, they main take away is ... don't be surprised if you enjoy your asparagus and then have a stinky pee afterwards. You are not weird, that is normal, for ~40% of people. 

Sources: 

  1. Why Asparagus Makes Your Urine Smell. 
  2. Why Your Pee Smells Funny After Eating Asparagus.
  3. Why Asparagus Makes Urine Smell. 
  4. We Unravel The Science Mysteries of Asparagus Pee.
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Stretching Your Dollar at the Grocery

Being able to save money when grocery shopping has been a goal for our family in 2018. I love food and I can easily spend lots of money on food. I have been working really hard this year to try to cut down on food purchasing. I wanted to talk about ways to cut down on your food budget and still have healthy and delicious food options available. 

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  • Cook more at home. When it comes to actually cutting down food costs, limiting your eating at restaurants will help. When you eat out, you spend a lot more money. If you are feeding a whole family that can easily add up. Then if you aren't spending a lot (going to a fast food restaurant, you are trading money for high sodium and low nutrient containing food items). Working hard to plan meals to be prepared and eaten at home will go such a long way in saving you money with your food budget. 
  • Plan meals out ahead of time. Being able to eat meals at home requires planning. You obviously can't cook food at home, if you don't have recipes already picked out and food purchased. Sitting down for even 30 minutes a week, picking out a few recipes and writing out what ingredients you need for those foods items will go such a long way in helping you stick with your budget. When you know what food you need to purchase to cook at home, that will help with the next recommendation - creating a list. 
  • Stick to the shopping list. To help you save money, write out your shopping list. When you have a list and you go to the grocery store, sticking with your list will help save money. Lots of time that extraneous spending happens when you decide you "need" things from the store, that aren't on your plan. That shopping is to serve as a guide when you head to the store. Stick with purchasing only what you need and that will help save lots of dollars. 
  • Shop the sales or cheaper stores. If you are able to look through ads and shop the sales, that is a great way to save money. If that takes too much time and you aren't able to run to multiple stores, then try to find the best deals on the store you shop at. I am a huge believer in Aldi. I really like that store and I get all of my staples from Aldi. I am able to spend <$100 most weeks on food because I purchase all my produce, milk, cheese, eggs and most meat items from Aldi. I don't have the time to shop sales at multiple stores. Find what works best for you and your schedule. 
  • Use left-overs. If you take time to cook a meal and you have left-overs, use those for another meal or to take with you to work. That is a huge cost saving measure. Most of the nights when my husband isn't able to come home for dinner, we eat left overs. I will also pack left overs for lunches the following day. That is an easy way to efficiently use that meal you spent money and time on to prepare. 

National Nutrition Month

March is here! Can you believe it? I am so excited for spring and the start to hopefully some warmer weather. I love all the seasons, but it is always fun to be able to welcome spring in March and look forward to less snow and more sunshine. March also means that it is National Nutrition Month. I have posted about Nutrition on a weekly basis here on RD Anna, but this month is special because the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics focuses some key messages to spread about nutrition and wellness. Each year there is a theme. The theme for 2018 is "Go further with food." I think that is a great slogan for the year, because all eat and that is a necessary part of life, but what if we try to take that an extra step. What if we focused on making our diet or our habits just a little better. Take it that next step and push ourselves to make even better choices. 

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Key Messages For National Nutrition Month 

  • Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  • Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  • Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  • Continue to use good food safety practices.
  • Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  • Realize the benefits of healthy eating by consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

Picking Out Heart Healthy Foods

I had the opportunity this week to speak with Ericka Flye, a reporter for RTV6 about heart healthy foods. I have worked closely with the American Heart Association here in Indianapolis and I was contacted by their media person to see if I could be interviewed. I of course said yes and we put together a fun grocery store tour segment where we walked about Kroger in Fishers and talked about heart healthy food options. 

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Most grocery stores are decided with the fresh foods around the parameter of the store and the processed/shelf stable food items at the center of the store. Try to stick with shopping around the parameter of the store. When you enter the grocery store you normally arrive at the produce section. This is a great place to start because all of these produce items are very heart healthy. They naturally do not contain any sodium or fat! That is a the goal with a heart healthy diet to limit your consumption of sodium (or salt) and fat. Try to pick a variety of colorful produce items. Also try to pick out some new foods that maybe you haven't tried before. If you don't know how to cook or prepare that new produce item, look it up on Google and you can quickly find a recipe or how to cut up that food item. 

From the produce section we worked out way over to the deli and cheese counter. There are lots of options over here that are filled with sodium and added fat. The key is moderation. Dairy items and even processed meats can fit into a heart healthy diet, but in limited amounts. The nice thing about some of the Kroger Marketplaces is they carry Boar's Head meats and cheeses and they have lower sodium options. Check out the deli counter and look for the American Heart Association label on their lower sodium deli options. 

After checking out the deli counter we walked to the meat section. There are tons of options of types of meat from fish to turkey and beef. The key to find a heart healthy meat item is to read the percentage of fat to meat comparison and aim for the higher meat percentage. For example, try to purchase the 90% meat and 10% fat ground meat option compared with the standard 80% meat and 20% fat option. This will be the more heart healthy choice. Lots of people think that just because they are choosing turkey or chicken it is automatically healthier, but not really. Beef can fit into a heart healthy diet as well if is ground sirloin and is a lean cut. 

From the meat section we walked to check out the milk and eggs. These are both an important part of a heart healthy diet. You can have a whole egg a day while still following the heart healthy recommendations. If you want more than one egg in scrambled eggs or an omelet you can take 1 whole egg and then mix in additional egg whites to make a healthier fluffy egg scramble. When picking out a milk option choose 1% or skim milk because that has the least amount of milk fat remaining. This is the more heart healthy option.

The last area that we visited was the frozen food section. This area is where you will find lots of high sodium and high calorie food items. They key is to watch your portion sizes and then to make sure that you are reading how much sodium is in each of the items that you are consuming. Try to limit your consumption of these pre-prepared food items. Always read the labels and know what is in the food items that you purchase. 

We had a great time walking about the grocery store and checking out what items you should put in your cart to make heart healthy choices. You will have to check out the segment that will air on RTV6 at the end of the month. Thanks to Ericka Flye for a great interview and the American Heart Association for reaching out to me to help with this nutrition segment! 

Halloween Goodies

Crunchy leaves, spooky decorations and lots of sweet treats. That basically sums up this time of year. Halloween is just around the corner. With a little 10 month old running around our house, Halloween is even more exciting. We have a great family costume planned - it includes a farmer, a pig, a spider and a spider web. Any guesses ............... if you were thinking Charlotte's Web you would be right! 

When it comes to Halloween goodies we tend to reach for lots and lots of candy. In fact, Americans will end up purchasing 600 million pounds of candy on Halloween. For those trick-or-treaters that come to your door, their number one choice for Halloween treats is chocolate. About 157 million people participate in Halloween and 141 million purchase Halloween candy. That equates to 45% of the US population handing out candy to trick-or-treaters (source). So it is obvious that lots of people are purchasing candy, the kids that are trick-or-treating love it and we are eating lots of extra calories around this time of year. 

Have you ever wondered how many calories are in some of your favorite candy bars? Want to know more - CLICK HERE for the article. 

  • Reese's Cup (110 calories) - You would need to run 7 minutes (at 10 minute per mile pace) 
  • Butterfinger (85 calories) - You would need to do 10 minutes of Zumba
  • Regular M&Ms (67 calories) - You would need to do 9 minutes of jumping jacks 
  • York Peppermint patty (60 calories) - You would need to do 25 minutes of yoga
  • 3 Muskateers Bar (63 calories) - You would need to do 26 minutes of pilates 

Do you have to hand out sugary treats? No, there are lots of options for things that you can pass out at your house. I love highlighting the Teal Pumpkin project every year, because for lots of families Halloween ends up being stressful. For families who have food allergies or food intolerances this is tough to have to sort through all the candy and pick the "unsafe" treats. The Teal Pumpkin Project has some great resources in terms of signage for your house, ideas for non-food related treats and spreading the word about food allergies. Last year I put together a great blog post with more treat ideas and a video about the Teal Pumpking Project - CLICK HERE to check it out. I loved this infographic and just had to share it with you. 

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If you think the Teal Pumpkin Project is a neat idea, but you also want to hand out candy, that works too. That is what I do every year. I have a bowl of goodies filled with non-food related treats and then another bowel with candy goodies. That way I have options for everyone and I feel better about the large amount of candy that all these kids are eating on Halloween. 

The Benefits of SNAP

I came across this news story about a new research article that was in JAMA and I just had to share this information with you all. I don't like to get political on this blog and that is not my goal. I simply want to share this research with you and you can make whatever decision about it. I think that part of being a good American is understanding how Government agencies work and being informed. 

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So let's just jump in. There was a research study in JAMA that was published in 2017. The title of the study is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation and Health Care Expenditures Among Low-Income Adults. This is one of the first studies that I have seen really looking at a large sample size of low income individuals and looking at their overall health. This retrospective cohort study of 4447 adults (whose income was below 200% of the federal poverty threshold) participated in a NHIS (National Health Interview Survey) in 2011. Out of these participants 1889 were SNAP participants and 2558 were not involved with the program. The study found that those who were involved with SNAP had lower estimated annual health care expenditures (a savings of $1409). This is significantly lower estimated expenditures compared with the non-SNAP participants. That is a HUGE amount of savings! For the 1889 participants that equates to $2,661,601 estimated health care expenditure savings. If you look at all the SNAP participants who are adults (40% of those on SNAP) that could create a huge potential savings. Lots of these SNAP participants are also on Medicaid. 

Long story short that means that this could be an avenue to help decrease health care costs. We know that more and more Americans are struggling with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. With this increase in chronic diseases that leads to an increase in health care costs/dollars. To combat this diseases, it is most effective to change lifestyle habits - eat healthier and exercise more. Making those changes can have big impacts on overall health. That is why this study is so interesting. Looking at SNAP recipients and seeing that this government program is providing food dollars to Americans is helpful in supporting a healthier lifestyle. According to the SNAP program, there are 20.5 million households stretch their budgets to purchase food. That is a lot of people that could use help and support with affording food. With the proposed budget cuts there is a potential cut of $193 billion dollars over ten years = cut of 25%. That is a big decrease and could have a big impact on lots of Americans. (TIME had a great article - CLICK HERE to read it for more information). In that article, there was another statistic that stood out to me .... in 2013 when SNAP funding had been decreased there was a rise in hospital admissions for diabetics with hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) due to food insecurity. Paying for an ER bill is much more expensive compared with offering SNAP benefits. Just an interesting finding that I think it worth thinking about.

I think when we talk about decreasing money to SNAP we need to know what impact that has long term. We need to understand what this program does and how it benefits people. Then after looking at that information, if the budget still needs to be cut, then we need to figure out how we help and support the people that have been utilizing this program. 

I don't want this to be political or be an argument over the proposed budget cutting initiatives being put forth from the White House. I just wanted to highlight the fact that there was a study done looking at how a government program (SNAP) was working to help make their participants healthier and saving money in the long run. That is very exciting and honestly I wish there were more studies out there looking at SNAP and WIC because having that data and talking about it could help to show the importance of these programs.

Eating Healthy While Eating Out

Did you know that the average American eats out 4-5 times a week. That equates to about 18 meals per month that are consumed outside the home. Those meals are, on average, $12.75 per person and that totals ~$232 per month on restaurant meals. If you look at fast food meal consumption, about 20% of Americans are eating meals in their cars. The average American spends $1,200 a year at fast food restaurants. So why do we love eating away from home? Well it is convenient and it is normally something we do to socialize. So obviously we all know that we will be eating out at restaurants so let's talk about ways to do that in a healthy way. 

Navigating a Restaurant Menu

  • Avoid portion distortion. 
    • Meals often are large. More often than not you are getting way too much. Ask for a doggie bag and save what is left over for lunch the next day.
    • Try to avoid going to the restaurant hungry. Most of us all over eat when we are already starving. So avoid going to the restaurant when super hungry.
    • Skip the sides or substitute a healthier option. Try to make healthier choices in the sides that you order. Skip the fries and instead order a salad.
  • Be sauce savvy. 
    • Watch out for high calories sauces and dressings and try to get the sauce on the side. When you put these toppings on the side that is an easy way to decrease calories and limit your consumption of these calorie rich toppings.
    • Add flavor to foods. This is easy to do by asking for extra mustard, salsa, peppers, onions or other flavorful toppings. Skimping on the on the dressing doesn't mean you have to eat less flavorful food.
  • Say no to fried.
    • When you pick fried food items you are adding extra calories. Watch out for words on the menu like breaded or crunchy.
    • Food can still taste delicious and can be grilled, broiled or baked. 
  • Sip smart.
    • Soda may sound refreshing, but if it isn't diet, then it can contain extra calories. If you drink too much diet soda it can  make you feel hungry and tend to over eat. 
    • Get water, unsweetened ice tea or low fat milk. Plus water will save you money on your restaurant bill.
  • Be prepared and have a plan.
    • Look at the menu ahead of time and come up with a plan. Figure out what food items are healthier and lower in calories. 
    • All of the menus are available online and you can use a nutrition app to look up nutrition information.

There is a great video that I found on YouTube about navigating fast food in a healthy way. Sometimes trying to find healthy choices at these restaurants may seem impossible, but it can be done! 

Hopefully some of these tips and tricks will be helpful when you head out to a restaurant this week. I know that some times it can feel overwhelming, but focus on 1 meal at a time and all of those good choices will add up! 

Navigating the Indiana State Fair

August has arrived. Do you know that means? It is time for the Indiana State Fair. I have the opportunity to live just down the street from the State Fair. That is exciting, because we going to spend lots of time checking out exhibits, looking at the animals and trying some of the delicious food. Make sure you grab some tickets and head over the fair grounds. The fair is going on from August 4th through the 20th. 

Each year the State Fair has a different theme. This year the theme is "The Wonderful World of Food." The tag line is "We grow it. We sell it. We cook it. We eat it." That is very true. Here in the midwest we do grow a lot of food and that is a unique thing to Indiana. Each day of the fair there is theme that is highlighting different types of food. 

  • August 4th - Deep Fried Food 
  • August 5th - Melon 
  • August 6th - Popcorn
  • August 7th - Salsa & Ketchup 
  • August 8th - Eggs
  • August 9th - Pork Burgers
  • August 10th - Funnel Cake
  • August 11th - Cheese 
  • August 12th - Beef BBQ
  • August 13th - Ice Cream
  • August 14th - Apples
  • August 15th - Mint
  • August 16th - Corn Dogs
  • August 17th - Food On A Stick
  • August 18th - Turkey Legs
  • August 19th - Pickles
  • August 20th - Honey 

I love this list, because it really does showcase lots of the food items that we make/grow in the state. Obviously not all of these food items are healthy, but some times it is fun to indulge in a special treat. What better place to have a treat than the State Fair. 

Another great reason to hit up the fair is for the chance to walk! It is a great way to get in some exercise. I know that might seen silly to be walking while sipping on your milkshake, but it can be a good way to move more. 

There is also a really neat display from New York about Food from Around the World. You have to check it out. It was really neat and so well done. There is so many fun things offered at the State Fair - the food, the rides, the animals and neat displays. 

Coconut Craze

Well by this time you have probably heard of coconut oil and been told that it is SUPER healthy and you need to eat it on EVERYTHING! So some reason everyone is thinking coconut oil is the next health food. In fact 72% of consumers think that coconut oil products are healthy compared with only 37% of nutritionists. This shows a huge disconnect between the public and what professionals know. 

So let's break this down ... what is in coconut oil? It is a plant based oil and most of the time this does mean healthy. All of your other plant based oils are high in unsaturated fat (heart healthy fats) - canola, olive, grapeseed, and avocado oil just to name a few. Coconut oil is from a plant, but instead has high amounts of saturated fat. In fact 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat. That is a higher percentage of saturated fat compared with butter, beef fat or pork lard. Eeek! So that should be a red flag. There are some unsaturated fats in coconut oil, but only about 15% of the fat are unsaturated (heart healthy fat chains). 

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 6% of your total daily calories come from saturated fat. These recommendations are to help keep your cholesterol levels within normal limits. So you need some fat and a small amount of saturated fat is fine, but you don't need large amounts of these saturated fats. 

There are not very many studies looking specifically at coconut oil. This is a new food trend and because of that most of the heart studies that say that saturated fat causes heart disease are done with animal based fats. More research needs to be done with coconut oil and see that if this plant based (high saturated fat) oil does indeed lead to same negative heart disease outcomes. 

The whole reason that saturated fat is demonized is because studies have shown that it decreases your HDL (good cholesterol) and then increases your LDL (bad cholesterol) and this can lead to increased plaque build up in your arteries. 

So what does this look like in real life? Well if you take your coconut oil and measure it out. 1 Tablespoon contains 12g of saturated fat and that makes up 60% of your daily recommended saturated fat intake. This 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories, 13.6g of total fat. Coconut oil contains 10 times more saturated fat than unsaturated fat. This is still fat and should be treated as such. Use this fat source in moderation. Doesn't go dumping it in your coffee, slathering it on your potato and drinking it in your smoothie. That much added fat isn't going to help you be healthier, but will just add additional calories and could lead to increased weight gain. Yes, it tastes delicious, but so does every fat. 

Hopefully you can see that this coconut oil craze is indeed just that ... a craze! This food item as been around for awhile and there are no magical health properties with this oil. Use it in moderation and if you have a risk of heart disease or struggle with high blood pressure, avoid this fat source. Reach for more heart healthy fats (plant based fats) that have proven heart health properties. 

Cool Off With These Summer Treats

It is that time of year where the sun is shining, the temperature is creeping up and you want to find ways to cool off. I know that this time of year I like to come up with refreshing snack ideas to help beat the heat. These recipes are kid friendly as well, so grab your youngster and give them a try! 

Frozen Fruit 

There are so many different fruit items that you can freeze. You may have heard of freezing your grapes. That is a easy and delicious treat. Simply wash the grapes, dry them and then place them in the freezer. They are so cold and refreshing. You can also freeze watermelon slices. Cut your watermelon, remove the rind and then place in the freezer. This is super easy and totally delicious. This is a great alternative to a popsicle. Don't get me wrong, you can still enjoy a popsicle, but this will be a healthier option.

Fruit Pizza

Start with your crust. This can be anything ... a tortilla, pita or flatbread. You can choose a whole wheat version for a healthy twist. Then top with your "sauce" which in this case is a yogurt. Pick your favorite flavor, plain, vanilla or flavored. Then top with whatever toppings you think sounds good. You can add nuts (almonds), sliced fruit (kiwi, apples, bananas), any type of berry or grape, coconut, chocolate chips or granula. The list can go on and on. Then enjoy! Making your own fruit pizza can be that simple! This can make a great snack or even part of your meal.

Fresh Veggie Salad

This is a great recipe for a summer, vegetable salad, because you can add whatever produce you have available. Don't feel like you have to follow the recipe. Use veggies that you like and you think sound good together. I love this dish because it uses beans as the protein source, which is cheap and delicious. This is also a colorful salad. Keep that in mind as you are choosing what veggies you want to include. Reach for items that are colorful. Aim to eat the rainbow! 

Grilled Veggie Kabobs

I am a sucker for grilled vegetables. It is my favorite way to eat veggies in the summer time. I love how fresh they are and now over cooked when on the grill. This Kabob recipe looks amazing. It uses corn, sausage, green peppers, onions. These veggies are coated in Italian dressing and then sprinkle mustard powdered over them. This is a fun way to spice up your grilled vegetables and try something new. 

Hopefully you are able to try some of these tasty treats this summer. Find some new recipes and try to my food. There is so much fresh produce that will be in season and tastes delicious this time of year! Happy Cooking! 

Exploring St Louis

We had the opportunity to explore St Louis a few weekends ago. We took an extended weekend trip down to St Louis, Missouri, which happens to be about 5 hours from our home in Indianapolis. We decided to head to St Louis to meet up with some friends for the weekend who live in Mississippi. It was so great to get away and get to spend time with some amazing friends. This was also William's (my 4 month old son) longest car ride to date. 

We had a wonderful weekend. Of course we took the time to eat at some delicious restaurants along the way. As you may remember, whenever we travel, you avoid all chain restaurants and only eat at local places. 

  • On our way out of Indiana we stopped in Terre Haute and ate lunch at Traverse Pie Company. It was amazing! I got a quiche and Chas ordered their pot pie. So delicious and of course the combos came with pie for dessert. Totally worth and such a delicious treat. I definitely recommend this spot if you find yourself on the west side of Indiana. 
  • When we arrived to St Louis we had to stop for some St Louis style pizza. Now if you aren't familiar with what that means - here are the qualifications ... a thin, cracker like crust, Provel cheese and sliced in squares (instead of triangular slices). There was a local pizza shop not far from our Airbnb. Pizza-A-Go-Go is in a cute neighborhood and has some delicious pizza. It is a small shop and only serves pizza. We had to wait awhile, but it was worth and such a tasty treat.
  • No trip to St Louis is complete with a stop at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Well good thing we were staying just a block or two away from one of the locations. We walked there the first night in town and of course had to partake in yummy ice cream. It is always so delicious and quite a busy place to be.
  • For brunch on Saturday morning we went to the Mud House. It is a super cute cafe/coffee shop and had not only delicious coffee, but amazing food. It was very busy on a Saturday morning, but obviously being so popular is a good sign = good food! We really enjoyed the grits and I loved the huge bowl of fruit that I got. It was a little expensive, but we thought it was worth the cost. 
  • One of our excursions on Saturday was to the Anheuser Busch St Louis plant location. We went on a tour of the Brewery and had a chance to enjoy a beverage afterwards. None of us had been there before and it was a activity for a cold/rainy afternoon. 
  • For dinner on Saturday evening we ended up getting hotdogs. I know that sounds lame, but they were quite yummy. Steve's Hotdogs were awesome! I am not a huge hotdog fan, but these were made from quality ingredients and had some unique toppings. It worked out well for the boys to go get them and bring the back to the Airbnb for us to enjoy. 
  • Sunday morning was filled with church and then saying our good byes to Joshua and Angela. Then before we hit the road back to Indiana we had lunch at a cute cafe with some amazing brunch food. You may have noticed a theme that we love brunch. 

Overall we had an amazing trip and really enjoyed the chance to get away for a weekend and enjoy time with friends. This was our first big trip with a baby and it went great. The Airbnb we stayed at was lovely and we enjoyed having good food and time with some amazing friends. If you find yourself in St Louis any time soon, check out some of these local eateries and enjoy your time exploring an amazing city! 

Fueling Your Fitness

This past week I had the opportunity to talk to a group at Endurance House in Zionsville about nutrition. Endurance House had a 5K running group that were gearing up for the Zionsville 5K in June. The leader for the running group, Sarah Hill-Abel, was a friend from Lafayette. I had met her and worked with her at Tri-N-Run up in Lafayette for several years. Both her and I had moved to the greater Indianapolis area and I was excited to work with her again when she reached out to me a month ago. 

Since this running group was new to the whole running scene, I wanted to just touch on some of the basics of exercise and nutrition. 

  • Discussed Healthy Snacks
    • Find snacks that you enjoy that pair a carbohydrate with a protein. This will help keep you feeling more full and will help to rebuild some of that muscle you broke down while exercise. It is best to have this protein after a work out and stick with carbohydrates prior to exercising. 
    • Bring your meal/snacks with you on the go (to work, while running errands, etc). This helps ensure that you are reaching for a healthy option. It removes the temptation to stop by the drive through or picking out something unhealthy from the grocery store. 
    • Have something to eat prior to working out. If it is in the morning, make that food item something light that you can easily tolerated (banana, granola bar, smoothie). Then add in some protein after the work out to help keep you feeling satisfied through lunch. 
  • How to Stay Hydrated
    • Make sure that you have water with you. Water is going to be the best thing to use for refueling for any exercise  taking < 60 minutes. Water is great because your body can easily use it and it is refreshing. 
    • If you are working out for > 60 minutes, then you can consider a sport beverage. This will provide carbohydrate and electrolytes, which are necessary to replenish after a long work out. 
    • There is water in foods that count as well. So drinking to thirst is a good way to know if you are hydrated. Don't stress about a "magical" 8 glasses as a day. Instead focus on making sure that you aren't feeling thirsty. 
  • Fueling for Exercise
    • Eating 3 meals a day with snacks is important and necessary when you are working out. We want to make sure that you are fueled properly so that you can complete the activity you want to do (running, walking, biking, etc). 
    • Making these meals/snacks healthier is key. Find ways to work in plenty of fruits and vegetables. Remember to fill your plate with at least 3 food groups to keep variety in your diet. 
    • You will quickly learn if there are foods that you need to avoid prior to exercising. If you eat and then wait 2-3 hours before exercising that is normally enough time to cause any GI distress.

We had a great time talking about nutrition and hearing what this woman do currently to help them make healthier choices. Lots of time, being healthier and setting yourself up for success looks different for different people/families. If you hate cooking, then maybe you look to purchase pre-made food items from Whole Foods that have fresh vegetables already in those meal items. Maybe your buy your veggies cut up, because you know you would never spend the time doing that. Whatever helps you be successful in your diet journey, that is the key. Figure out what that is and try to make those chances so that you can be properly fueled for life and your upcoming run. 

National Nutrition Month

March has arrive and that means it is National Nutrition Month! This is the month where all of us in the dietetics field celebrate eating healthy and encourage people to put their Best Fork Forward! 

So I really like the theme this year ... Put your Best Fork Forward. I think that this hits home the message and we need to select healthy foods to put in our mouths. It starts with each bite that we take. I am guilty to totally choosing to eat too much cereal and not enough vegetables. When life is crazy (and it is now) it is way easier at times to grab the cereal box, versus grabbing some carrots out of the refrigerator. I have been trying to balance the hecticness of life and planning ahead to have healthy meals during the week.

  • Aim for a variety of foods in your diet. Variety is defined as a diverse assortment of foods and beverages across and within all food groups. These foods should be selected to fulfill the recommended nutrients you need each day without exceeding the limits for calories and other dietary components. So this means that all foods are far game, but we want you to select healthy foods most of the time. Definitely balance with a sweet treat or beverage every once in awhile, but everything in moderation.
    • Plan meals that include different colored vegetables through the week. 
    • Experiement with different vegetables when preparing healthy soups or salad. 
    • Choose vegetables that are in season, whenever possible.
    • Pack of variety of different colored fruit as snakcs. 
    • Enjoy fruit in place of sweets for dessert.
    • Try choosing whole grain options - such as brown rice in place of white rice. 
    • Look for cereals and snacks that use whole grain flours. 
    • Substitute plant-based proteins in new recipes. 
    • Experiment with seafood by grilling and baking fish in place of other protein options for dinner 1-2 nights/week. 
    • Give sweetened plain, low fat yogurt a try with different fruits/whole grain cereals. 
    • Make smoothies with fruit and yogurt. 
  • Watch out for the sodium hidden in foods. This can be challenging, especially if you are eating out a lot. Take the time and try to prepare some meals at home and use less salt. Making some small changes can have a huge impact on your heart health.
    • Use the nutrition label to look at the sodium in food and compare with other options. 
    • Try purchasing lower sodium versions of food items.
    • Flavor foods with other spices in place of just adding salt.

Enjoy this month and take the time to think about what you are putting on your plate and ultimately on your fork!

LOVE Your Heart

Well February is upon us and that means it is time to think about your heart health. Even if heart disease doesn't run in your family, taking the time and making you are making heart healthy choices can improve the quality of your life. 

What is a heart healthy diet? A heart healthy diet is one that is low in animal fats and high in plant based fats. This also includes consuming fish on a regular basis. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in fish have been associated with lower risks of heart disease. Consuming more a more plant based diet as also been found to help heart healthy and improve your body composition. People who were of normal body weight had less instance of heart-related medical complications and lived healthier lives overall. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put together a great list of cooking changes that you can makes for your heart health. Make sure that you are limiting your saturated fats (from animal sources) and trans fats (man made fats, found in some margarine products). When cooking animal meats, make sure to drain off extra fat or grill the meat so that the fat falls away from the meat when cooking. If you consume high amounts of saturated (animal) fats this type of fat can build up in your arteries and this can lead to a blockage/heart attack. That is why a lower fat, more plant based diet is recommended. 

Put down that salt shaker. In addition to watching the amount of fat in your diet, keeping an eye out for the amount of sodium in foods will go a long way in blood pressure control. If you have a history of hypertension, or if it runs in your family, then taking the time to watch your sodium intake can help keep your heart beating strong. Lots of fast food or pre-made, frozen entrees have a fair amount of added salt to help with the favor and preservation of the food. That is why when you can prepare meals at home, from scratch, that will go a long way in limiting the amount of added salt you consume each day. Make sure that you are not adding salt to your meals after they have been cooked. That is why moving the salt shaker off the table and into the spice cabinet can limit your added salt intake. If possible, purchase lower salt food items - low salt diced tomato or chicken stock, low salt lunch meat or sliced deli cheese. These little changes can help with your blood pressure control. 

Move more. You can never under estimate the benefit of being physically active. Exercising helps your heart by having it beat harder and grow stronger. Your heart is a muscle and for it is stay strong it needs to be worked out. That means scheduling time to be physically active will help your heart to stay strong and continue to beat for a long time to come. Exercise can look different for different people. Find something that you enjoy and do that activity on a regular basis. If you enjoy exercise classes, find a gym and attend classes that you enjoy. 

Hopefully you can take some of these tips and recommendations and put them into use this month to help show your heart some love! 

Healthy Dinner Ideas: Homemade Soup

This is the time of the year when the weather is chilly outside and it is often cold and gray. Nothing warms you up at the end of a long day like a delicious, bowl of homemade soup. I love cooking soups at home during the week, because more often than not, they are quick, make a complete meal and there are left overs to take to work for lunches. 

Perks To Preparing Soup From Scratch: 

  • Healthier - I love that you can find just about any type of recipe online and you can make a traditional soup recipe even healthier. There are so many substitutes you can make to any recipe that you find. For example, if you need to watch the amount of sodium in your diet then you can consider using fresh tomatoes or no salt added canned tomatoes. You can make your own broth or use a lower sodium broth option. You can choose fresh or frozen vegetables compared with their salter, canned counterparts. There are so many easy ways to tweak and make recipes even healthier. If you need to increase the amount of fiber in your soup and your overall vegetable intake, consider adding kale or spinach to the recipe. This is also a great source of Vitamin K and antioxidants. 
  • More Cost Effective - Preparing your own soup from scratch will end up saving you more money compared with purchased an already prepared canned soup option or even a dried soup packet option from the store. There is obviously more prep work involved to make the soup from scratch, but you will get a larger volume of soup and you can use it for left-overs later in the week. This larger quantity is a perk if you have a large family to feed as well. You can pair other sides with the soup as well to make it a complete meal - have bread on the side with another fruit or vegetable offering. 
  • Customization - When you take the time to put together a recipe from scratch there is a lot of areas where you can change the recipe to fit what you or your family likes. If someone in your family really dislikes corn, then in your minestrone soup recipe, make sure that you avoid adding corn and instead use another vegetable like squash or lima beans. If you have a family member with a food allergy, then preparing your own soup from scratch can allow you to accommodate their specific diet needs. 

My Favorite Soup Recipe - White Bean and Sausage Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup baby carrots, cut in half 

  • 1 cup onion, chopped 

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 

  • 7oz turkey sausage/keilbasa, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 

  • 4 cups chicken broth, fat free and reduced sodium 

  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

  • 2 cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (15.8oz cans) 

  • 1 bag of spinach, fresh (6oz) 

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat a saucepan, coat with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook until tender. Add the onion, garlic and the sausage. Saute the vegetables for 3 minutes and stir occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, Italian seasoning, pepper and the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  2. Place 2 cups of the soup in the food processor or blender and mix until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to the pan. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Remove soup from the heat. Add the spinach, stirring until spinach wilts. 
  3. Substitutions - You can substitute the spinach for kale if you would prefer. 

This is a great recipe, because you can easily make this in about 30 minutes. I enjoy having dinner together within 30 minutes during the week, because after working all day, walking the dog, and exercising, I hate spending way too much time in the kitchen cooking/cleaning. Cooking Light has a great assortment of soup recipes that you will have to check out! 

Packing A Healthy Lunch

I had the opportunity this past week to give a Lunch and Learn presentation to a local Indianapolis business. It was for National Healthy Lunch Day and it was on behalf of the American Diabetes Association of Indianapolis. I have done a variety of things along side the ADA here in Indy over the past couple of years. They are a great resource in the greater Indianapolis area and I was happy to put together a presentation about Packing a Healthy Lunch. This is a topic that affects everyone, because all of us have to eat and all of us should be eating something for lunch. The goal is to make that food we put in our mouths, a healthy choice. 

Goals for Packing a Healthy Lunch
Include at least 3 food groups …
•Fruit (sliced apple, fruit salad, banana)
•Vegetable (salad, cut raw veggies, steamed veggies)
•Protein (meat, nuts, peanut butter)
•Grain (pasta, bread, pizza, etc)
•Dairy (slice of cheese, yogurt) 

Plan a snack
•Include one of the food groups you didn’t have at lunch.
•Pair protein with a carbohydrate
•Peanut butter and an apple
•Greek yogurt with granola

•Prepare enough at dinner for left-overs and portion out the left-overs for lunches.
•Make a large batch of lunches on Sunday: Cut and bag all of your fresh veggies/fruit for the week. Portion out the chili for the week into individual lunch portions.
•Keep healthy staples on hand. Always have some lunch meat, lettuce and tomato in your refrigerator for a sandwich, if needed.
•Pack what you like - Don’t force yourself to eat something you hate.

Taking the extra time to pack something healthy for lunch can really have a big impact on your health. If you are bringing healthy food to work, you are most likely going to eat it and consume healthier food choices. You will also save money, because eating out for lunch on a regular basis is more expensive. There is a little time in preparing those meals, but it is worth it! 
 

Food & Nutrition Magazine Article - The Stone Soup

I was excited to share this with you all, because I thought it was neat. I have been asked to write up/share some blog posts that I had up on RDAnna.com. There is a magazine that is run through The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics called Food & Nutrition Magazine. This is a lovely print magazine and I absolutely love reading through it whenever it arrives at my house. They have a blog called The Stone Soup, which is a great compilation of posts from RDs all over the country. I had been talking with them for awhile about posting something, but it took me forever to get around to it. 

Well I submitted a couple of options for them about various nutrition topics and they chose one about endurance nutrition/running. I just had to share this with you! I was so excited to have this wonderful opportunity. If you want to read my article on the Food & Nutrition website then CLICK HERE.

I also had a great shout out on Twitter from @foodnutrimag and I was excited about that as well. Any time something that I write or share has the chance to reach a wider audience, I can't help but get excited! 

Scary Halloween Facts

Today is Halloween! October 31st! That means if you haven't already, you will have little ghosts, goblins and princesses showing up to your door and asking for treats and goodies. I hope you were able to read the post from last week about the Teal Pumpkin Project and possibly put together some allergy-free treats for your trick-or-treaters. 

I also wanted to share with you some scary Halloween nutrition facts, because it is fun and ends up being eye opening. These statistics are brought to you by Daily Burn

  • Americans spend ~$7.4 billion dollars on Halloween candy, costumes and decorations each year. 
  • Americans purchase 90 million pounds of chocolate during the week of Halloween. 
  • There are 41 million potential trick-or-treaters between the ages of 5-14 years old in America.
  • Each year, 35 million pounds of candy corn is produced for the Halloween/Fall season. 
  • If you ate an apple cider donut, you would have to do 54 push-ups to burn it off (~330kcal). 
  • Do you love the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte? If you drink a tall (~380kcal) you need walk for 134 minutes to burn off those calories. 
  • Did you know there are 10.5g of sugar in a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and this happens to be American's favorite Halloween candy.
  • You would have to do 17 minutes of burpees to burn of 1 bite-sized Snickers bar (~160kcal).
  • Wondering how much your pillowcase can hold in terms of candy - 1,690 pieces of candy to be exact. 
  • On Halloween, children collect any where from 3,500-7,000kcal worth of Halloween candy in their pumpkin pails. 

I don't want you to know that I don't love Halloween, the treats, goodies and decorations. I love celebrating holidays, but I think it is important to remember that you or your child do not need ALL the Halloween candy. Trying to keep moderation at the fore front of your mind is the main message. Enjoy your time trick-or-treating, taking pictures and dressing up. Just try to be active, burn off those extra calories and make sure you have a healthy dinner before you head out. Have a safe and wonderful Halloween! 

Navigating Food Allergies on Halloween

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Every year I try to take some time and make sure I talk about the Teal Pumpkin Project. This program is sponsored by the Food Allergy Research & Education group and its main focus is to provide all kids safe treats this Halloween. This campaign was launched back in 2014 nationally and has gained lots of traction over the last 2 years. 

For kids with food allergies, it is not safe for them to eat candy, because often these sweet treats contain dangerous allergens. This project wants to encourage people to provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters so that they can still participate in the Halloween traditions, but not have to worry about their food allergies. To participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project follow these simple steps: 

  1. Have non-food treats available for kids to pick up. It is easy to find Halloween themed goodies at your local grocery store, party store or craft store. Plus, these are great goodies to hand out to all the children, because they are going to get plenty of sugary treats.
    • Bubbles 
    • Pens/pencils 
    • Glow sticks/necklaces/bracelets 
    • Vampire fangs 
    • Stickers 
    • Bouncy balls 
    • If you don't have time to run to the store to find these goodies - go ahead and purchase the Essentials Kit from FARE Teal Pumpkin Project and get it shipped directly to you! 
  2. Put out a teal pumpkin in front of your home, on your porch/in your entry way. Incorporate your family and paint your teal pumpkin today! 
  3. Display the FARE Teal Pumpkin Project sign  explaining what the teal pumpkin means.