Grapes For People, Not Pups!

 

Mollie, my sweet 10-year old Golden Retriever

Grapes are a healthy, easy snack for adults and a favorite finger food of toddlers. They are a rich source of cancer fighting phytochemicals, such as resveratrol, ellagic acid, and quercetin. In addition to these anti-oxidents, one-half cup of grapes have about one gram of fiber, and only 60 calories.  As a dietitian, I am eager to recommend such a fruit to my patients.  However, as a dog owner, I wish to share a story and a word of caution about how dangerous this fruit can be for our four-legged dog friends.

My story

Recently, my family gathered together for a Sunday dinner. My beautiful one-year old granddaughter was “eating” grapes, but really just sucking the juice out of them and throwing the rest to the floor. Our family dog, Mollie, came over to help “clean up”  the scattered food on the floor.

My family did not know grapes are poisonous to dogs.  As I saw what was happening, I yelled out a warning that “Dogs can’t eat grapes!”  My family, aghast, was thinking perhaps I was mistaken or overreacting. They proceeded to verify the dangers of grapes for dogs online. They went online, but I immediately called the animal hospital. After very little discussion, the vet’s office decided it was best to bring our dog Mollie in. Vomited was induced. Ultimately, we found that Mollie hadn’t actually consumed any grapes, but had she, she might have suffered kidney damage or death. The harm from eating grapes to a dog comes within a short time-span. Those grapes can hurt the kidneys in as little as six hours, unless the necessary precautions are taken.

Lesson learned

Pay attention to what is on the floor when your pets are with you, especially if there are young children around!  And, be aware that the Animal Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also sounds an alarm for the following foods which are toxic to dogs: raisins, chocolate, avocados, onions, garlic, coffee, tea leaves, Macadamia nuts, raw yeast dough, salt, alcohol, and artificially sweetened foods. Our pets are counting on us to keep them safe, so I hope my sharing this experience will help keep other pets safe as well.

For more information on preventing pet poisoning click here.

Does anyone else have a story to share about keeping their 4-legged friend safe from poisonous substances?

Fabulous Flaxseed: Easily Add to Your Diet

add flaxseed to your diet

Whole flaxseed

It’s relatively easy to add flaxseed to your diet in order to reap some significant health benefits. Flax seed is a rich plant based source of omega-3 fatty acids, making for a nice dietary alternative to fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are protective against heart disease, hypertension, certain cancers, and some autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Americans typically do not eat enough of these healthful essential omega-3 fatty acids so, understanding how to add flaxseed to your diet can help improve your diet.

Flaxseed and fiber

Flaxseed is a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber aids in reducing blood cholesterol and insoluble fiber prevents constipation. The anti-cancer benefits of flaxseed are due to plant estrogens called lignans. Flaxseed contains more lignans than any other known plant material.

 Easy ways to add flaxseed to your diet

  • a topping for salad
  • a thickening ingredient for soups
  • a topping for cottage cheese
  • adding to yogurt
  • adding to condiments such as mustard or mayo when making sandwiches
  • using as part of a baked product recipe or pancake mixture*
  • adding to hot and cold cereal

Purchasing and storage

Flaxseed can be purchased as a whole seed, or a milled or ground meal. Whole flaxseed, such as pictured above, is shelf stable for up to a year, but needs to be ground up to derive the health benefits. If the product is purchased already ground or milled, once the package is opened it should be kept in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 3 months.

Nutrition information

One tablespoon of flaxseed has 45 calories, 2 grams of fiber, a little protein, and a large amount of the omega-3 fatty acids. This is definitely food worth chewing on. Here’s a great recipe to use up that garden zucchini and get your flaxseed eaten:

Add flaxseed to your diet with this easy muffin recipe

*Chocolate Zucchini Muffins~ Recipe makes 24 muffins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup ground or milled flaxseed
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups finely grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and ground flaxseed in a bowl. Cream the margarine, oil and sugar in another bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and the applesauce. Then, add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients and lightly mix. Lastly, add the grated zucchini.

Use paper baking cups to line muffin pan or generously oil or use baking spray on muffin pans. Fill tin or paper cups half way. Bake about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean. Remove, cool and enjoy.

Nutrition information 

Calories-175             Fiber- 1 gram               Potassium-85 mg

Sodium-250 mg        Fat-6 grams                Carbohydrate-26 grams

Do you have a favorite recipe or way you add flaxseed to your diet?

For more detailed information on flaxseed, visit this site. 

“Beat the Clock” Healthy Eating Strategies

healthy eating strategies and how to plan for them.

“Beat the clock” healthy eating strategies.

Are you constantly feeling like you’re up against the clock when it comes to getting a meal on the table? Healthy eating strategies must be planned, as healthy meals do not magically appear on the dinner table. You most likely have been in the situation where you had no food to pull a meal together, and that became the excuse to dine out or order in. Poor planning when it comes to grocery shopping can lead to the same scenario. If you are constantly relying on food prepared by others, chances are pretty good that you are eating way too many calories and too much sodium, total fat, and saturated fat!  Do this too often, and your overall health will eventually decline while your waistline goes the opposite direction.

Time management is key for healthy eating strategies

One key aspect to eating a healthy diet is time management. And, its imperative to apply your time management skills to your food activities. Considering the huge impact a healthy diet has on your health, it seems wise to budget a certain amount of time to being able to feed yourself and your family appropriately. While eating is basically instinctive, healthy eating needs some thoughtful planning.

Suggestions for pulling off healthier eating

Take time to plan your dinner

As dinner is typically the most problematic meal, take about 20 minutes on the weekend to map out your dinner eating strategies for the entire work week. This advance planning allows you to think through your evening commitments and plan appropriately, as you will need to keep it simple if you need to run off to school or an evening meeting. For the tough evenings, you can plan on cooking ahead or purchasing already cooked entrees such as a roasted chicken. Or, with some advance planning, you can use a slow cooker.

Have a well stocked kitchen

Having a well stocked kitchen can allow you to eat a healthy meal without any effort. There is nothing wrong with cereal, milk, and fruit for dinner or a sandwich and fruit. Such labor-free meals can easily have the same nutrients as a hot meal. Granted, a hot meal is more comforting, but nutritionally speaking it really makes little difference to your health!

Prep your produce

While most people say they like fruits and vegetables, very few people eat the 5 servings a day recommended by the National Cancer Institute. I have concluded, in part, this is due to the fact that fruits and vegetables can take some time to prepare and even eat.  A little planning and preparation for the week’s menus can cut down on the struggle to find the time during the week to get these foods into your diet.

Chopped vegetables for the week. Planning ahead for healthy meals.The noted photo to the left is from an organized mother of an infant and toddler. She works full-time and still manages to feed her family an extraordinarily healthy diet. With her well thought out eating strategies for the week, she is ready to start cooking with either a slow cooker or on the spot when arriving home. All she needs to do is pull her ingredients out of the refrigerator to pull this off.

Her family will be dining on Rose Family Baked Stew and another family favorite of penne pasta with chickpeas, tomatoes and low-fat feta cheese. She will also be serving several slow cooker recipes including sweet potatoes with red beans and rosemary chicken with white beans.

Once we learn to manage our food related activities as well as we mange our work and recreational activities, we are on the way to reaping the enduring health benefits of good nutrition.

What tips can you share?

 

What Dietitians Do: This Dietitian’s “Do’s and Don’ts

what dietitians do

Friendly counseling

Did you ever wonder what dietitians do for clients or patients? The range of our services is tremendous. We address most aspects of eating and exercise behavior needed to sustain a long-term quality of life. In order to help you understand what a dietitian does and does not do, I present a brief overview below which can better prepare you should you decide to consult with a dietitian. Bear in mind that each dietitian has a unique counseling style, and various areas of strength. For example, I consider myself to be a seasoned generalist, with the following areas of specialization: weight management, gastrointestinal diet therapies, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiac disease, cancer, wellness, and nutritional supplement strategies.

What this dietitian does for you

Dietitians listen

You speak and I listen. By gathering information relating to your diet and lifestyle we are able to launch a realistic food plan tailored to your specific needs. For my practice, this initial information gathering session is a minimum of 2 hours. By the end of the appointment, you will have your own personalized food plan.

Dietitians evaluate

We evaluate your food intake patterns and work on improving them to help you achieve your health and weight goals. Evaluation processes vary from dietitian to dietitian. Most dietitians would like clients/patients to document their food intake. As of this month, I have a new online platform for clients to document their food. This means I can see how you are doing between appointments!

Provide accountability

Often, sticking to a diet and exercise plan requires having someone to oversee it. Dietitians offer this accountability by helping you to monitor your diet and eating behavior on an ongoing basis. That way, it becomes more difficult to put off your healthy lifestyle goals.

Offer support

Starting a new diet or exercise regimen is not an easy process. Dietitians provide encouragement and support. We help you brainstorm ways to keep you on the path to a healthier lifestyle. We have suggestions for how to eat well away from home, eat well when there is no time, eat well when you are not feeling well, and eat well when life gets in the way. Clearly, dietitians play a crucial role in the formulation and maintenance of your diet and exercise plans.

What this dietitian won’t do for you

Create prefabricated cookie cutter food plans

While certain tools such as the new USDA food plate and old food guide pyramid have a place in nutrition education, such tools are not the centerpiece of my counseling. Each client is presented with cutting edge information and individually tailored dietary recommendations.

Write prescriptions

While clinical dietitians generally have significant medical knowledge, they are not physicians and do not prescribe medicine. I may, however, suggest supplements if I find a nutritional gap in your diet based on your food preferences and my monitoring of your diet. So we don’t write prescriptions in a conventional way, but we do prescribe in our own way.

While I have no magic wands, I am confident that in working together, I can help you achieve your goals for a healthier lifestyle. A few examples from my 25 years of nutritional counseling best illustrate this:

  • A physician referred a patient to me who needed to lose 100 pounds in order to undergo a heart transplant. After receiving my nutrition counseling services, the patient lost the 100 pounds, and ultimately no longer required the heart transplant. His significant weight loss allowed for his cardiac enzymes and heart function to return to normal.
  • Hundreds of my patients have had their physicians discontinue certain medications altogether as they have either successfully lost weight or modified their diets to address their specific medical conditions. Although many physicians are frequently surprised at the outcome of medical nutrition therapy, I don’t believe most dietitians are at all surprised because we know counseling and diet therapy are effective!

As you can see, the impact of nutritional consulting can be tremendous. Dietitians are able to do a great deal to help you achieve your diet and exercise goals. Ultimately, this sets you on a path to a healthier lifestyle.

To learn more information on how a dietitian can help you, here’s a video from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Has a dietitian made a difference in your life?