Plant based chili recipe!

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Check out this healthy and tasty bean chili recipe from the cookieandkate.com.  Yes, that's right, no meat in this one, but full of delicious herbs and spices and satisfying!  This recipe called only for black beans, but instead, I used black beans, kidney beans and garbanzo beans.  I also added red pepper flakes to spice it up!  Keep plenty for leftovers as it was tastier the second day!  Takes about 15 minutes to prep and 37-40 minutes to cook.  I topped it over brown rice for a heartier meal! 

Yours in great health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN   Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Creating habits vs. utilizing willpower: what's more powerful?

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When trying to create new health, nutrition, and fitness habits, I rely less on willpower and more on creating habits.  I was listening to a podcast interview with Dan Ariely, a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics from Duke University, and he said that when you have a habit, you don't have to use your willpower. 

Do you have a simple, repeatable meal and fitness plan that is virtually automatic 90% of the week?  Are you focused more on creating habits than following the perfect diet or fitness routine? Certainly we want to eat healthy most of the time and exercise regularly, but creating simple, repeatable habits set us up for success. 

Tim Ferris, on this YouTube video, talks about how to overcome procrastination and create a habit (from approximately 2 minutes 37 seconds to 6 minutes and 50 seconds in the video) and it's worth checking out. 

For example, I exercise 5-6 days per week and have been doing so consistently for about 17 years.  Now I generally exercise for 30 minutes to 1 hour, but on days when I don't want to do anything, I lower my goal until it's achievable, say 10 minutes of exercise.  Once I get started exercising for a few minutes, my energy increases, I feel more motivated, and then work out for my usual duration.

Creating habits rather than relying on willpower and lowering goals until achievable make a powerful combination.

Yours in great health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

What's up with a jackfruit BBQ sandwich?

I was at a party recently and tried a BBQ sandwich made without pork, but with jackfruit!  Never had jackfruit before, nor a jackfruit BBQ sandwich.  Guess what?  It was delicious!  Thought I'd share a recipe to try.   Click here.  Also included is an avocado slaw to pare the sandwich with.  This would work well for those interested in bringing a fun and different, but tasty dish to a BBQ or other event.  Enjoy!  Is jackfruit healthy?  Jackfruit is a good source of fiber at 3 grams per cup, as well as vitamin c, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese!

Yours in great health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Eat nuts for heart and brain health?

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 , a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or olive oil reduced the incidence of a major cardiovascular event for high risk individuals by approximately 30% compared to a low fat diet group.  However, if we drill down further, only stroke reached statistical significance and not heart attack and cardiovascular death from all causes.  

Who was considered high risk in the study?  Men aged 55-80 and woman 60--80 who had diabetes or at least 3 of the following:  smoking, high blood pressure, elevated LDL cholesterol ('bad cholesterol'), low HDL ('good') cholesterol, overweight or obese, or a family history of premature coronary heart disease.

The group that received the nuts (a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds) consumed about 30 grams per day, which is about a 1/4 cup or 1 oz.  How about other nuts?  Here's an article from Harvard Health about the benefits of peanuts and other nuts for heart health and here is the original research article.  In this study, individuals who ate nuts 7 or more times per week, had a 20% lower death rate.  However, this study was observational, and not direct cause and effect. 

So, how do you include more nuts in your diet?  Nuts are about 180 calories per quarter cup and while not low in calories, they are heart healthy, a good source of protein and healthy fibers and tend to be satisfying. Try eating about a 1/4 cup nuts per day or more for a snack and skipping the chips and other salty snacks more often.  Try including sunflower seeds in salads, cashews in a stir fry, peanut butter with apples or bananas, pistachios or other nuts/seeds for snacks alone or any other option that you enjoy!

Yours in great health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

 

Nighttime snacking and cholesterol, what's the connection?

According to a research study (click here) conducted on eleven healthy young woman from Japan, a nighttime snack (192 calories snack at 11pm) increased LDL (the 'bad') and total cholesterol levels and reduced total body fat oxidation (fat utilized for energy). 

For those looking to control cholesterol levels for heart health, skipping that nighttime snack may be worth considering.  In addition, for those looking for help with body fat reduction, skipping the late night snack may help as fat used for fuel was reduced with the late night snack. 

Drawbacks from the study?  Short duration (13 days) and only 11 participants.  In addition, it would have been useful to test the nighttime snack at multiple time intervals (8, 9, 10pm) as well for those who snack at different times.

Now stopping late night eating is a challenge for some, and making this change is easier said than done.  First tip?  If possible, reduce or remove the high sugar and high salt snacks from the house to reduce temptation at night (when willpower is the lowest).  Tip two?  Brush and floss within 5-10 minutes after dinner.  Tip three?  Avoid the kitchen after dinner.   Tip four?  Put leftovers away immediately after dinner. 

Yours in great health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

What not to eat at Red Lobster?

I recently checked out the menu including the nutrition facts for Red Lobster.  Click here for the PDF.  Whoa, while there are some healthy options, buyer beware for many options there.  Below is a sample appetizer with salad and main course:

Appetizer:  Crispy calamari with vegetables: 1830 calories and 4,720 mg of sodium

Salad:  Classic Ceaser:  520 calories and 1,050 mg sodium

Main course:  NY Strip with Lobster Tail:  1,140 calories and 2,360 mg sodium

Total =  3,490 calories and 8,130 mg sodium!

Considering the adequate intake (click this link for the definition of adequate intake) for sodium is 1500 mg/day for under 50 years of age, 1300 mg/day for 50-70, and 1200 mg/day for 71 and over, 8,130 mg is mind boggling (and this doesn't include what you ate the rest of the day)!  Upper tolerable limit is 2,300 mg/day, but this number is not a recommendation to aim for just the upper limit. 

If you remove the appetizer you'll cut your calories and sodium by about half, but the meal is still loaded with calories and sodium.

What to eat there?  The fresh fish options were all under 500 calories and the sodium was moderate too (except for the lobster dishes).  I get it, most of us want to enjoy a meal out and NOT think about sodium and calories.  I agree, from time to time, why not, right?  The question is, would you make some changes with your selections if you knew the calories and the sodium where off the charts?  Particularly if you are trying to manage a health condition?  Some research suggests if you make your selections online prior to going to the restaurant, you'll make better choices, and I'd have to agree.  Most chain, but not mom and pop restaurants, will have calories online and some in the restaurant.

Let's be honest, Red Lobster is not alone, try checking out some other menus online of your regular eating spots and see what you find. 

Yours in great health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

What is the hunger fullness scale?

Do you ever eat when not hungry?  When bored, stressed, watching TV, holiday meals, late night snacking, deserts, chips etc?  Hey guess what, it's pretty common.  While there are many behavioral strategies to help with overeating, one that is gaining popularity is 'mindful eating.'  While for many, utilizing a combination of strategies is helpful, including mindful eating may improve success.  Check out this link from Harvard to learn more about 'mindful eating.'  A 'mindful eating' experience may include: slowing down and taking more time to eat, tasting each bite of food, and paying attention to your feelings of hunger and fullness.

Let's drill down a little further on our hunger and fullness cues.  To learn more about the hunger fullness scale, check out this link.  One is starving, ten is stuffed, three is hungry (clear signals to eat, but not uncomfortable), seven is satisfied/full (but not overly full or stuffed).  The goal is to stay in the grey zone (between 3-7), aiming to eat at a 3 and stop at a 7.  

How to get started?  Begin by becoming more aware of your hunger and fullness cues during and between meals.  Try not to judge yourself, just become more aware.  If you eat past fullness, it happens, so think about why it may have happened.  Aim to eat when hungry, not starving (a 3) and stop when satisfied (a 7).  Sometimes, eating at a 1 (starving) causes us to eat to a 9 or 10 (very full/stuffed), but not always, depends on the person and situation.  Are you really hungry 2 hours after dinner or is that habit instead?  Are you full, but still have a half a 1/4 plate of food left and keep eating?  Again, no judgement, just awareness.  One last note, if you are a late night snacker, it takes about 3-4 hours to digest a meal, so by hour 2 after a meal, your blood sugar is peaking and more food is usually not needed.  It's an interesting topic and certainly worth more exploration. 

Yours in great health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN   Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

 

Do bananas cause weight gain? No chance. Here's why?

Ok, I know you've seen the pop up ads that say, 'bananas make you gain weight.'  Guess what, not true.  Bananas are a fantastic snack, moderate in calories (about 100 cal each), a good source of fiber, potassium, and moderate in naturally occurring sugars. 

I just had a new patient lose 7 and 1/2 lbs in the first two weeks of his weight loss program eating 2 bananas per day! 

Compared to a snickers which has 215 cal, a small bag of chips 150 cal, a banana (100 cal), has about 50-100% less calories respectively and is a much healthier option!

Other benefits of bananas?  Great to fuel your workouts (about 30-45 minutes pre workout), great between meal satisfying snack, or a satisfying post dinner light sweet treat (when you see the little brown dots, the bananas are sweeter)!

Other ways to eat bananas?  Try peeling, cutting into bite size pieces and freezing, and then add a little water and blend thick for a sweet non dairy desert!  For a change, swap your banana for jelly in a PBJ, or add to your salad (I know it sounds weird, but just tried it and was awesome!).  

If you are looking for a sweeter desert, try this chocolate dipped coconut frozen banana from eatingwell.com.  It's only 100 calories per serving.

Yours in great health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist