Kale smoothie?

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Kale is one of the most micro dense nutrient foods available, and here is a simple recipe to get more in your body!

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of baby kale

1 handful of frozen blueberries

1 handful of frozen strawberries

1 handful of frozen raspberries

1-2 ripe frozen or fresh bananas

handful of ice

about 1 cup of water

blend and that’s it!dense

Do you have a Plan B for Dinner?

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Similar to a patient long term investment strategy, where we aim to ignore the ups and downs of the stock market (not always easy to do), having a similar mindset with changing your eating and exercise habits also fares better with a long term strategy.  Have you ever slipped with either your meal plan or workout and allowed it to derail you for multiple meals or days?  If so, it's not uncommon.  Can you change your mindset and habits to help you stay on course?  Of course!

How to handle a slip and stay on track?  The next time you slip, the key is to 'get back on track at the next meal or snack.'  There is no failure with a slip.  We all slip from time to time because we are human.  Let the guilt (if you have it) roll off your back.  The key is to think about the situation and decide if you'd do anything different the next time (i.e. shop differently, order differently, etc.)

Another option is to have a plan B.  For example, let's say option A is to prepare dinner from scratch.  However, option A may not be realistic each night of the week particularly after a long or hectic day with work/kids/sports etc.  I know my household is on the run many nights of the week and keeping it simple and quick with dinner is crucial.

Let's create an option B for times when you want a quick meal within 15 minutes or less.  There are many options, but consider a veggie or turkey burger from your freezer with cut up raw veggies (peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots etc.) on whole grain bread (or as a lettuce wrap), or a salad with chicken breast that you can reheat from your freezer, or how about beans on a tortilla (fresh or frozen) with avocado or store bought guacamole (we had this the other night for a quick dinner), with salsa, lettuce, and tomato?  There are numerous options, but the key is to find 1-3 simple, and quick dinner options that you can easily put together in 5-15 minutes right from your fridge/freezer when rushed for time.  Brainstorm a few healthy, tasty, and satisfying options that'll work best for you! This will help you stay on track, avoid eating out more (and save on your budget to invest or take a vacation!), and help you accomplish your health and wellness goals!

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

 

To Snack or Not to Snack for Weight Loss?

Check out this article in the Huffington Post from fellow Dietitian Manuel Villacorta! The article describes the relationship between ghrelin (the hunger hormone), snacking and weight loss.  Definitely worth a read! 

Yours in great health!

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

Can a veggie burger have taste? Maybe...check out my review of the Qrunch Burger.

Ok, I know what you're thinking...a blog about veggie burgers, you're kidding right?  Aren't veggie burgers those sad, tasteless, poor imitations of the real thing?  Well, maybe.  What if I told you that I found a veggie burger that both meat eaters and vegetarians agree is the real deal, has flavor, and is satisfying?  It's called the Qrunch Burger (not with a C, but with a Q).  Takes about 1 minute in the microwave or 5-10 minutes in the oven, these burgers are full of high quality, whole, natural ingredients that is subtle, but flavorful.  Check out the ingredients below from their 'original' recipe:

Water, Organic Millet, Organic Quinoa, Organic Refined Coconut Oil, Organic Onion, Organic Carrots, Organic Broccoli, Organic Spinach, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Sea Salt, Organic Arrowroot Starch, Organic Psyllium Seed Powder, Organic Garlic, Organic Sunflower Oil.

How do I like them?  2 slices of toasted whole grain bread, hummus spread on each side, sliced onion, cucumbers or lettuce, sliced red pepper and Sriracha sauce for a little spice.  If you're in a pinch for dinner, this burger's precooked (just keep frozen) and it's ready in just a few!

The question is, where to find these burgers?  Click here for a list of grocers from the Qrunch website.  However, while my local Whole Foods doesn't carry them, my local Mom's Organic does, so it may vary per your locale. 

Any way you slice it, if you're open to trying something new, this veg burger may just have what it takes, to make it on to your plate!

Yours in great health!

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

P.S. I have no affiliation and receive no compensation from Qrunch. 

Fantastic Lentil Soup Recipe!

A delicious and simple to prepare lentil soup recipe from Dreena Burton!  The soup has a rich and aromatic flavor that satisfies!  It's an easy lunch or dinner option and works great for easy to heat up leftovers too!  Add some veggies on the side either roasted, steamed or as a salad to round out the meal!  Good source of protein and carbs to keep you satisfied and fiber to help with healthy gut function!  Click here to check out the recipe. 

Delicious Thai Red Curry Recipe with Brown Rice!

Just made this delicious Thai Red Curry Recipe and wanted to share!  I cooked brown rice instead of white rice for a heartier meal and higher nutritional value.  Click here to view the recipe. 

Yours in Great Health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Certified Personal Trainer

Can a Pecan Pie bar pack both flavor and health in one wrapper? Check out my review...

Looking for a sweet and healthy snack idea?  Try the Pecan Pie bar from Lara Bar!  Why do I like this bar?  It's simple, tasty, natural and healthy with only three ingredients (dates, almonds and pecans)!  I love products that are made of whole, natural ingredients and you won't do much better than this.  A healthy source of carbs for energy (from the dates), healthy fats (from the nuts), and fiber (from the dates and nuts), this bar has balance.  Protein is on the lower side at 3 grams, but this bar isn't trying to be a high protein bar, and the nuts help to keep you satisfied like a protein bar would.  Lastly, this bar is moderate in calories (220) which will help keep you satisfied between meals, but not too full.  Whether you choose to have a handful of nuts with a fruit or grab this bar instead, either would be a great choice for a snack!

Disclosure:  I have never received compensation from the Lara Bar company. 

Yours in great health!

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

Does Food Journaling Help You Lose More Weight?

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The answer is yes!  According to the following randomized controlled trials, clients who were more successful in losing weight and keeping weight off were significantly more consistent with self-monitoring (keeping a journal). 

Lose More Weight With Journaling

In a study by Baker and Kirschenbaum, 1998, 32 females and 6 males with a mean age of 43.6 years, self monitored (kept a food journal) for 10 weeks (3 weeks during holidays and 7 weeks during non holidays).  Results showed that highly consistent self-monitors lost an average of 10 pounds more than low self monitors!

Keep the Weight Off With Journaling

In another study by Mattfeldt-Berman et al 1999, 224 male and 84 female participants who successfully maintained weight loss were significantly more likely to adhere to the following strategies:  exercise, self-monitoring of food intake (keeping a journal), and weighing themselves weekly.

In practicing nutrition for over 15 years, I have found that patients who consistently keep a detailed food journal lose the most weight.

In addition to keeping a food journal, patients also need to have a target for the quantity of food in meals and snacks. Without targeted goals for total calories and portion sizes, weight loss will be less than optimal.  

What are the different ways to journal? 

Using an app, a computer based tracking program, and simple pen and paper are the most popular.  To minimize the time required to journal and simplify the process, I now provide my patients with a customized nutrition planner with exact portion sizes that drastically minimizes the amount of writing needed and removes the need to count calories by the patient.  So, instead of taking 10-20 minutes to journal daily (a barrier for some), my customized tracker takes about 1-5 minutes per day.

Top 5 benefits of keeping a journal:

  1. Helps to keep you focused on your meal plan and nutrition goals
  2. Provides a target for meal and snack portion sizes
  3. Keeps you accountable
  4. Reduces mindless eating
  5. Provides a written record and when combined with weight data, can provide valuable information as to how you lost weight!

Whether you prefer an app, a computer based version, pen and paper, or a customized meal planner from Nutrition Coaching Center, the key is to track your foods and portions to optimize your weight loss, keep it off, and help you accomplish your goals! 

Yours in Good Health,

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, ACE-CPT, LDN

 

 

 

 

What's in a slip? How to reach your nutrition goals despite a slip now and again?

Have you ever slipped with your diet and allowed that slip derail you?  If so, your not alone.  Many on the diet 'merry go round' have found themselves in a similar situation.  Guess what?  You don't have to let one slip stop you from reaching your goals!  Read on to learn more!

First of all, what's a slip (in regards to food and nutrition)?  It's a one time instance when you overate or ate something that wasn't what you intended.  Maybe it was that second piece of desert, or one too many late night tortilla chips and cheese, or some other food that you didn't intend to eat or overeat. 

How can we stop a one time slip from derailing our goals? 

  1. Build flexibility into your nutrition plan.  No one is perfect.  By allowing some flexibility in your plan, you may feel more confident in your ability to stay on track. I aim for one to two 'eating out' occasions per week.  This gives me the flexibility to have dinner with my family at a restaurant or enjoy a nice meal at a holiday occasion or event without feeling like I've 'failed' at my nutrition goals.  This way, if I eat a little 'off my usual eating plan,' it's actually 'on my plan.'  So, consider building in a little flexibility into your nutrition plan to help you stay on course! 
  2. Give yourself a break.   We all slip sometimes, and when you do, don't be hard on yourself!  We are all human, and it's totally normal to slip given the food temptations that surround us.  It's what you do after the slip that counts.  Next meal or snack, get right back on track!  Forgive yourself, drop the guilt, and move on.  When diets or workouts are too restrictive, a slip (one time), may turn into a lapse (multiple slips), a relapse or maybe even a collapse.  Not anymore, right?  Next time you slip , brush it off, forgive yourself, and get right back on track!

Yours in Good Health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN