Following is my answer to one of the most common questions I get this time of year, as we enter into cold & flu season. Everyone wants to make sure their immune system–and their bodies in general–are able stay as healthy as possible.
When it comes to your health, supplements really are the wild, wild West. What should you take? How do you choose? Are the claims true? Could they be harmful? Is that expensive one worth it?
Every good dietitian will recommend that you get your nutrients from food first. Supplements are just that–they should be used to supplement an otherwise healthy diet. I like to see them as “filling in the gaps” of what I’m able to get from nutritious foods; to round out the days when my diet just isn’t ideal, which unfortunately, come more often than I’d like.
Keep in mind that quality matters. Think of supplements like food–along with your snacks & meals, they provide the building blocks for your body. You really are what you eat. So don’t go for the cheap stuff. Quality supplements mean that they’re usually more pure (especially in the case of fish oils or green powders), contain the more well-researched, bioavailable forms of the nutrients, have fewer additives (such as artificial colors or sweeteners), and contain no cheap fillers or bulking agents. This is a case of you (usually) get what you pay for.
When checking out those labels, remember that more isn’t always better & “natural” isn’t always safe. (“Natural” is an unregulated term, by the way.) You don’t need 3000% Daily Value of a nutrient. In that case, you’re most likely creating extra work for your kidneys & expensive urine (or worse, such as in the case of some nutrients that can accumulate to toxic levels). And just because there is a litany of enzymes, herbs, amino acids, or a vegetable/fruit blend, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re holding a better supplement. In this case, it’s buyer beware, since a lot of these may be unproven or even unsafe (especially for kids). So keep it simple. Not to mention those fancy ingredients may just be adding to the price tag. Can you really tell how much acai fruit powder is in there anyway?
So if you’re looking to try some supplements or to simplify your regimen, read on. With cold & flu season upon us, it’s the perfect time to get started. Below is a list of some basics & what to look for. Need more help deciding just what you need (& what you don’t)? Let me help you take the guesswork out of it with a complimentary Supplement Consultation. (Just email me at FreshStartRD@gmail.com.)
First the basics…
1. Multivitamin/mineral OR prenatal. You may have heard or read that you don’t need a multivitamin/mineral supplement. Ideally, no one would. That would mean we’re all eating a good variety of nutrient dense foods to cover our needs. But sometimes, as I mentioned above, that’s just not realistic for some of us every day. So only you know if you need one. (Or have a dietitian analyze your food log for you to determine if you’re missing out on any key nutrients.) Eat well most of the time? Then take half the dose. (If you’re pregnant, or may become pregnant, folic acid from a supplement or a good source of folate from food is a must, so stick with the suggested dose. When selecting a prenatal, be sure that most, if not all, vitamin A is in the form of beta carotene, and not retinyl palmitate, since excessive amounts of the latter can be teratogenic, or cause birth defects. The form of the nutrients is evident on the label.)
One to try? Men, Women, Prenatal, Kids*, Babies
*Use this link & enter Practitioner ID 89980 for 15% off + free shipping of the kids’ multivitamin/mineral.
2. Vitamin D. Far too many of us have low vitamin D levels. Why? Our bodies produce vitamin D with the help of the sun, but most of us have either limited sun exposure or are protected with sunscreen. And vitamin D is tough to get from food alone. But we need more. Vitamin D is the one nutrient for which every cell in the body has a receptor. And the incidence of some diseases, especially autoimmune, increases as we go away from the equator (because of decreased sun exposure, and therefore, decreased vitamin D production). The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has increased their recommendations for daily intake, and many vitamin D experts suggest even more. So go either for “safe” sun exposure (up to 15 minutes without sunscreen, several days per week) and/or consider a supplement. If supplementing, opt for the D3 form (cholecalciferol). (Supplemental vitamin D is recommended for all babies from birth. Here’s one to try.)
One to try?
Adults & Kids: Gel cap (swallowable or chewable), gummy, liquid (vegan)
*Use this link & enter Practitioner ID 89980 for 15% off + free shipping of any of these options.
3. Omega-3s/Fish Oil. Inflammation is believed to be the root cause of many of the diseases we fight today. You may have heard about the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3s (from fatty fish, flaxseed, hemp, walnuts, canola oil, fortified eggs & dairy, etc.). So if you’ve been including these foods in your diet, why would you need a supplement? Some avoid fish (or don’t eat much of it) for one reason or another. Also, the plant source of omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid, or ALA) is not efficiently converted to DHA & EPA, the type of omega-3s our bodies need, so it’s tough to get enough from food sources alone, especially if not eating enough fish or fortified foods. (For more on choosing what fish to buy, click here.) Finally, omega-3s (especially DHA) are important for pregnant mothers (for the developing brain & eyes of her fetus) & breast feeding mothers (to provide DHA to her baby in her breast milk and to replace her stores lost in pregnancy). Interested in giving a fish oil a try? Here’s how to choose a good one or see if yours stacks up.
One to try? Adults (gel cap or liquid, both also available with added vitamin D), Kids (chewable gel cap, gummy or liquid), Bigger Kids, Babies (after weaning)
*Use this link & enter Practitioner ID 89980 for 15% off + free shipping of any of the options.
Now for the bonus…
4. Probiotics. These are hot right now & for good reason. Check out this post for why, and some different options to try (from gel caps to organic superfoods to liquids to kids’).
5. Greens Superfood (a source of blue-green algae, green grass juices & deep green leafy veggies). These are popping up everywhere, partly in answer to the juicing trend. If you’re already juicing (or blending), some days, it’s just not happening. You might have let the produce rot in the back of the crisper drawer. The farmer’s market or grocery store was too inconvenient. You just don’t feel like it. Juicing & blending can be expensive & time consuming, by the time you run the errands, buy the fruits & veggies (especially if you go organic), wash & prep them, clean the equipment, etc. For those days, go for a green powder. It’s a quick, convenient, lower sugar, lower cost, superfood alternative to juicing. Add it to smoothies, or make a green juice with it. Look for one with zero cheap fillers or bulking agents (often disguised as fiber), with no additives (such as sweeteners), that is certified organic, and is packed with only blue-green algae, green grass juices & leafy green veggies.
One to try? Miessence DeepGreens (Take 20% off when you spend $150.)
Strive for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts & seeds, as well as lean protein & healthy fats. And when you do choose to supplement, keep it simple & safe by choosing high quality supplements, all while keeping in mind that they’re not designed to replace a nutritious diet, but to complement it.
Want a warm, comforting breakfast that’s packed with fiber, immune-boosting vitamin A, omega-3s & fall flavor? Give this one a try, and for smoother mornings, make it ahead (here’s how).
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
- Oatmeal, prepared as directed (Optional: Use part apple cider or your choice of milk as the liquid.)
- Canned pureed pumpkin
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- Chopped pecans
- Golden raisins
- Ground flax seed
- Toasted wheat germ
- Pumpkin pie spice (or use cinnamon + nutmeg)
- Vanilla extract
- Optional sweetener: maple syrup
- Prepare oatmeal as directed.
- Stir in the toppings of your choice.
Didn’t use the whole can of pureed pumpkin? Freeze into cubes in an ice cube tray, pop out into a freezer bag, and store in the freezer for a Pumpkin Spice Smoothie, your next batch of oatmeal (a lot more oatmeal ideas!) or even for baby.
You’ve sampled them. You’ve loved them. You’ve been amazed that there is a whole can of black beans blended in. AND, they’re gluten-free & egg-free! Now here’s the recipe…
Black Bean Brownies
- 15 oz can black beans, rinsed thoroughly
- 2 T cocoa powder
- ½ cup quick oats (gluten-free oats available at Trader Joe’s)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup maple syrup (use the real stuff)
- ¼ canola oil (preferably organic)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅔ cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350०F.
- Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips into the bowl of a food processor & blend until smooth.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into a prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then let stand for at least 15 minutes before cutting.
Contributed by Meghan Neary, a dietetic technician intern who enjoys advocating for a healthy lifestyle to promote wellness & prevent long term disease.
The just-had-a-baby adrenaline rush has plummeted. Night-feeding exhaustion has set in. You’re taking care of your new baby like a pro, but what about taking care of yourself?
Your body is recovering from very hard work, not just from birth, but from the last 9 months. You built arms & legs, you know. And what about all that nutritious breast milk your body may be busily making?
So what are some ways to make sure you can keep up with the demands of being a mom, all while making sure that you’re not running on empty? Since the extra sleep you need might not be an option right now, try these energizing tips:
1. Eat when you’re hungry & try not to skip meals/snacks. You’re hungry for a reason—you need at least 500 additional calories per day if you’re exclusively breast feeding. But keep in mind that emotional eating may not be energizing eating. Carbohydrates alone boost serotonin, the “feel good”, relaxing brain chemical, but won’t necessarily give you an energy boost. The solution? Have plenty of healthy snacks on hand that have the filling, energy-sustaining combination of healthy fat + lean protein + fiber. The focus on fiber in the form of whole grains, veggies, fruits, nuts & seeds, will also help with postpartum constipation. Some ideas:
- Trail mix: dried fruit, nuts, dark chocolate chips, dry whole grain cereal. Why trail mix? It’s easy & grab on-the-go (keep in the car), as well as contains a great combo of good fats, protein, fiber & phytonutrients. Store it in a sliding zip-top bag. (Why the sliding kind? Because you just may be opening & closing it with your teeth while holding your new bundle.)
- Green smoothies. Why? They’re quick & portable, and packed with calcium, protein, fiber, phytonutrients & probiotics.
- Oatmeal. Why? It’s a warm, comforting way to get your whole grains, and full of nutrients & fiber. Top it wisely for even better nutrition-packed meal or snack.
- Slow cooker soups, such as bean, vegetable or lentil. Why? They’re easy, warm, and comforting, and a great way to use up what’s in your fridge, fill you up, and sneak in vegetables & extra fluids. You can also freeze soups in pre-portioned individual or meal-sized quantities. Perfect for those need-to-eat-NOW lunches or fussy baby evenings.
- Or try some other high-energy, on-the-go snack ideas.
2. Weight loss is not the priority in the first few weeks. I repeat: for at least the first six weeks, there is no need to focus on weight loss. It will happen. One of the main reasons your body put on extra weight during pregnancy is so that it will have those very energy stores to produce breast milk after your pregnancy. You’ve heard it before, but it took 9 months to create your pregnancy body; now give yourself at least up to that time to recover. Healthy, realistic postpartum weight loss is 2 pounds per week if breastfeeding, and 1 pound per week if not.
3. It’s tempting with a drive-thru Starbucks right around the corner, but avoid excess caffeine, especially if nursing. If you must have some caffeine, reach for a small coffee (ideally half-caf or even decaf) or green or black tea. Leave the energy drinks on the shelf, since they’re full of sugar or artificial sweeteners, as well as herbs that might not be safe for breast feeding moms. Sugary drinks can cause a spike in your blood sugar (& the inevitable crash later).
4. While it’s no substitute for a variety of nutritious foods, continue with your prenatal supplement. It won’t provide energy outright, but it may help fill in the gaps of an otherwise less-than-perfect diet. Iron is especially important, so in addition to your prenatal, be sure to include plenty of beans, spinach, cereals & dried fruit. Eating a food high in vitamin C (OJ, strawberries, red bell pepper) along with the iron-rich food will improve its absorption. And keep taking that DHA (such as from a quality omega-3 fish oil supplement) to fight that “mom brain”—your baby stole yours for his/her developing brain & eyes, and you’ll also need it to provide enough for him/her in your breast milk. Finally, consider a probiotic to benefit you AND your baby (if breast feeding).
5. Redefine exercise, at least for the first weeks (& once you get the go-ahead from your OB/midwife, of course). Dancing with your baby (more appropriate for older babies, but a great mood-booster), pushing the stroller, a walk (even around the house) with the baby securely in a carrier/sling, is all you may need for optimum energy & healthy weight loss.
6. Stock your fridge, freezer & pantry for energizing, healthy-snacking success. Keep the ingredients of an easy-to-grab, quick-to-make, “clean”, whole food diet on hand.
7. Plan ahead. Never be caught without a quick meal or snack.
8. Prepare healthy foods ahead of time (during those rare opportunities when you do have time). Pre-cut fruits & veggies, prepare & freeze soups, batch cook, blend trail mixes, hard boil eggs, etc.
You will get the hang of this. Some days you’ll have it all together. And some days, you’ll forget whether you even brushed your teeth, let alone had a serving of fresh baby spinach. But keep those tips in mind most days and you’ll be ready for anything, super mom.
We’ve all seen the yogurt commercials with celebrities touting the health benefits of “live active cultures,” but what does this mean, how are they beneficial to your health, and where (besides yogurt) can you find them?
Probiotics (which literally means “for life”) are “good” bacteria that live in your intestines (there are 400-500 different species of bacteria in your digestive tract) and contribute to health in several ways. First, they help fight off harmful bacteria in the gut, aid in digestion (including the absorption of some nutrients) and boost immunity. It’s been estimated that 70% of your immune system is in your gut! They have also been found to help with diarrhea, yeast and urinary tract infections, and irritable bowel syndrome. Other studies have also found probiotics effective in treating allergies, c. difficile, dental caries, and respiratory infections. There’s also potential for probiotics to slow the progression of cancer & even promote weight loss.
Here’s another article from the Huffington Post summarizing how our guts are linked to our overall health.
It’s important to keep the good bacteria in your body flourishing. Probiotics are important to take when on antibiotics since antibiotics kill both harmful and good bacteria. A study from Stanford University School of Medicine showed just two rounds of antibiotics can wipe out probiotics in the digestive tract for up to six months after finishing the prescription. That good bacteria is then replaced by bad bacteria. Diarrhea & urinary tract infections may be the first signs of this. Other health problems can arise, usually linked to nutrient deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, and less resistance to the common cold/flu.
Signs of a bacterial imbalance may include:
- Allergies & food sensitivities
- Frequent colds, flu or infections
- Difficulty losing weight; sugar/carbohydrate cravings
- Frequent fatigue, poor concentration
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Poor digestion, acid reflux, or other gut disorders
- Poor sleeping
- Joint inflammation or stiffness
- Bad breath, gum disease & dental problems
- Yeast infections
- Acne, eczema or other skin problems
If the good bacteria in your system is killed off, your body does not remake them, so it is important to help your body accumulate them again through food & supplements. Adding a probiotic can help to re-establish the beneficial bacteria in the gut that has been lost.
First, there are many foods you can eat if you’d like to add probiotics to your daily routine:
- Kombucha tea
While probiotics are naturally occurring in most of these fermented foods and a great addition to your diet, they may not contain as many good bacteria as you would find in a probiotics supplement.
How to choose a probiotics supplement? Not all supplements are created equal, so be sure to keep these tips in mind when choosing a probiotic supplement:
- Though commonly found on labels, the number of CFUs (colony-forming units) that are in a supplement isn’t always relevant. (Often, a range in the billions is recommended to reap the benefits of a probiotic supplement.) It’s more important to ensure the bacteria are living.
- Look for brands containing the specific genus and species of the organism, such as Bacillus coagulans or Lactobacillus GG.
- Pay attention to the recommended uses on the package. For example, some are designed to specifically fight yeast infections.
- Store them properly. Since these are live cultures, proper storage is vital.
Recommended probiotic supplements to try (all of these are shelf-stable, so do not require refrigeration):
Contributions made by: Judi Giordano, an aspiring dietitian and culinary graduate & Meghan Neary, a dietetic technician intern who enjoys advocating for a healthy lifestyle to promote wellness & prevent long term disease.
Looking for a clean, whole food margarita recipe? Here it is. I’ve never been a fan of margarita (or other cocktail) mixes, not only because of the sweet-and-sour mix taste, but because of their ingredients: artificial flavors & colors, as well as high fructose corn syrup. There’s “skinny” mixes out there now, but I’d rather steer clear of the artificial sweeteners too. Even agave syrup can be just as processed as high fructose corn syrup.
Fresh & Clean No-Mix-Required Lime Margarita
Juice of 1 fresh lime (a citrus press
comes in handy here; roll it on the counter before cutting in half)
2 shots blanco (white) tequila
1 shot triple sec
2 shots water
1/2 shot simple syrup, more if you like sweeter cocktails (can be made ahead by simmering 1 part water + 2 parts sugar*, then stored in a jar in your bar area
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker & shake.
- Pour into a chilled, salt-rimmed margarita glass & garnish with a lime wedge.
- Optional: turn on the Gypsy Kings & report to the hammock.
*I use the organic, fair trade evaporated cane juice, now widely available.
We all know that sugary drinks are not the best for us. According to a recent study in the British Journal of Medicine, sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages does not induce satiety to the same degree as it does in solid form, which makes overconsumption easier.
Some turn to diet soda as their solution. You’ve seen diet soda in the media again. This is always a hot topic, with studies questioning the safety of artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, etc.) in diet drinks. These are deemed Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet questions still persist about how the consumption of these sweeteners can affect our health—from a possible link between diet soda and heart disease as well as depression, to whether they can really aid in weight loss.
The perception of diet drinks is also a drawback. People turn to these as an alternative to regular soda to cut down on sugar (and its calories). But this can make unlimited diet soda consumption seem “OK” since they have no caloric value. Artificial sweeteners are also much sweeter than regular sugar, so theoretically, over consuming them could heighten a person’s threshold of what sweet really tastes like. Perhaps most importantly, these drinks have no nutritive value, and therefore do not contribute to feelings of appetite satisfaction.
Bottom line: Why take the chance with diet drinks (specifically, the artificial ingredients in them) when you can stick to what you know is really good for you? Avoid the mysteries, the fake taste of artificial sweeteners and the excess packaging & save money too!
Water’s the best beverage to turn to. But if you’re a fan of fizz, add fresh fruit or herbs to sparkling water. Or, try making your own soda at home with your favorite combinations of fresh fruit or pure fruit juice, herbs and sparkling water:
DIY Homemade Soda
- Equal parts water and sugar (2 cups of each makes about 16 oz of syrup)
- Your choice of flavors (fresh/frozen fruit, herbs or spices)
- Carbonated water/club soda (Try a SodaStream!)
- Bring the water, sugar and flavorings to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Let the mixture cool completely, about 20 minutes.
- Strain the mixture, reserving the liquid. You could also puree the mixture with the fruit, herbs & spices for a more intense flavor.
- Mix a little bit of the syrup with carbonated water and adjust to your desired sweetness.
- Add some ice.
You can store the leftover syrup in squeeze bottle in the refrigerator for later use.
Mix and match any of your favorite combinations and flavorings. Here are some to try:
- Raspberry & mint
- Fresh lemon/lime or orange with mint
- Cucumber melon
- Cherry Basil
Recipe & research contributed by Judi Giordano, an aspiring dietitian and culinary graduate.
We all know the great health benefits of eating fish, but sometimes the environmental risks of purchasing unsustainable fish outweigh those benefits. The solution? Barramundi. It’s a great tasting, easy-to-prepare fish that’s high in omega-3′s and environmentally-friendly.
Barramundi is a member of the sea bass family and a native to Australia and parts of Southeast Asia. It’s relatively new in U.S. markets and is becoming a hot fish in the restaurant industry due to its versatility in cooking and sustainable reputation. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has rated it a "Best Choice" for purchasing due to its sustainability. They have provided these guidelines to consumers for purchasing:
Best Choices: Purchase barramundi caught in the U.S., which are farmed in fully recirculating systems. Australian-caught is another good alternative.
Avoid: Check the label when purchasing, and avoid those imported from Indo-Pacific areas, as these tend to be farmed in open systems. Fish farmed in recirculating systems eliminates the risk of disease transfer and pollution.
Common Names: Asian sea bass, barramundi perch, giant perch, palmer, silver barramundi, nairfish
Barramundi are high in omega-3s, providing 600-800 mg per 5 oz serving, which is comparable to some varieties of salmon (and uncommon in most other varieties of white fish). Barramundi has a sweet, buttery flavor, with a firm, moist texture and large flakes. If you tend to avoid salmon because of its sometimes "fishy" flavor, give barramundi a try! Try it grilled, baked or pan-seared. It goes great with a variety of sauces or spices. Here is a simple and tasty recipe adapted from www.thebetterfish.com.
Barramundi with Lemon Butter
- 4 Barramundi fillets
- 2 tsp olive/canola oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp fresh or bottled lemon juice
- A handful of chopped, fresh basil
- Salt to taste
- Saute the garlic in butter for about a minute, until fragrant.
- Stir in the lemon juice and basil.
- Add the salt to taste and remove from the heat, reserving the sauce in a separate dish.
- Coat the fillets with olive or canola oil. Using the same pan, set the heat to high and cook on the first side for three minutes.
- Flip and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes, or until cooked throughout.
- Spoon the lemon butter sauce over the fillets on a serving dish.
This dish would also pair well with some added olives or capers, diced tomatoes or other blend of fresh herbs. Try grilling it with some fresh vegetables or use it in your favorite fish taco recipe.
This was a guest post by Judi Giordano, an aspiring dietitian and culinary graduate. Stay tuned for more of her upcoming posts on quick and delicious meal ideas, shopping tips, and fresh, eco-friendly alternatives.
The following is a guest post by Lindsey McKeon, MA, RD, LDN, a dietitian at Southeast Psych in Charlotte, NC. Lindsey has been involved in eating disorder awareness, prevention & treatment for over 5 years. She is very comfortable working with patients on a personal level, group setting, working with family members or whichever meets the client’s specific needs. Lindsey believes in providing a safe and nurturing environment in which individuals learn healthier eating habits and new behaviors to heal. Lindsey is passionate about living well and advising others on healthy lifestyle choices & eating habits and teaches others about finding balance in their lives. She devotes considerable time to continuing education in the area of eating disorders, diabetes, weight management and other eating problems.
How do you know when a loved one has crossed over from dieting to an eating disorder? Unfortunately, in our culture, dieting is now an expectation for women; it’s the norm. We cannot escape the commercials, online advertisements, and magazines that tout the thin ideal and the “7 Easy Steps” to obtaining it. Women are beginning to diet at younger and younger ages, even into childhood. Repeatedly, research shows that dieting is a notable risk factor for developing an eating disorder. Oftentimes parents do not find out that their daughter or son has been struggling with an eating disorder until the disorder has taken a strong hold. Following are some signs that indicate potential eating disorder behaviors:
Sudden weight loss
Grades at school dropping
Becoming highly irritable
Clear anxiety when eating around others or frequently requesting to eat in his/her room
Avoiding certain restaurants or places where s/he cannot see the food being prepared
Playing with food on his/her plate, but not really eating it
Eating unreasonable amounts of food (either too small or too big) or eating food very slowly or at a rapid rate
Consistently asking to be excused immediately following meals to go to the bathroom or take a shower
Being driven to exercise, perhaps dropping other interests in pursuit of going to the gym
Large amounts of food are disappearing
If you observe these or other obsessive food behaviors and withdrawal, it is important to talk to your loved one with warmth and honesty about your concerns. Educate yourself about eating disorders, and seek help. Eating disorders are multifactorial, so it is best to seek multifaceted treatment from a nutritionist, a medical doctor, and a mental health professional that specializes in the treatment of eating disorders.
It all starts with reading food labels. They can be your guide to making wise choices for a healthy diet, but only if you know what you’re looking for. Eventually, with practice, you’ll get to the point where you don’t even need to turn the package around—you’ll have a sense of which foods are the best options.
So how to read a food label? First, you’ll want to look at the number of calories in a food, keeping in mind that most people need roughly 2000 calories per day. This can vary widely, of course, based on such factors as size, age, or activity level. But you’ll also want to look at the serving size. If you eat two servings of a food (& who doesn’t?), you’ll need to make sure to double the calories & nutrients info. And look carefully! Some beverages that look to be single-servings actually have 2.5 servings in them, so you would need to multiply the calories you’re drinking by 2.5.
Next on the Nutrition Facts Panel are the nutrients we want to keep to a minimum. Let’s start with cholesterol. It’s found in animal products, such as meats, dairy & eggs, but saturated fat has a bigger impact on blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol does, so you’ll want to keep your saturated fat intake low too. You can do that by choosing skinless white meat poultry and leaner cuts of meat. When choosing ground meat, look for the package with the highest percentage of lean beef. Keep away from trans fats altogether, and here’s the fool-proof way to find them: if the ingredients list contains the word “hydrogenated”, the food contains trans fats.
Keep your sodium intake low—ideally, less than 2300 mg/day. Fruits and vegetables are some of the lowest sodium foods out there, but they’re also great sources of some of the nutrients you want to eat a lot of, such as vitamins A & C. And this brings us to the part of the food label that includes nutrients we should be getting plenty of…
Bone up on calcium. Sources include kale, broccoli, canned salmon & low-fat dairy. Rich sources of iron include meats & poultry, clams & oysters, leafy greens, beans & lentils, dried fruit and fortified cereals. And just about everyone needs more fiber in their diet, so aim for high fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables (including beans), nuts, seeds & whole grains. Women need at least 25 grams a day, while men need 38 grams.
What are the % Daily Values for? These show you how much of a nutrient you’re getting by eating that food, compared to how much you’re supposed to have. (Looking at the image above, you want the %DVs for the yellow nutrients low, and the %DVs for the blue nutrients high.) These numbers can come in handy when you’re shopping & meal planning. Here’s how…
You can compare one product or brand to a similar product, such as when you’re comparing the amount of fiber in a breakfast cereal, but first check that the serving sizes are similar.
Food labels can make nutrient content claims, such as reduced fat, light, or low sodium, a little less confusing. All you have to do is compare the %DV of that nutrient on each product, such as when you’re comparing the amount of sodium in canned soups—no need to memorize terms!
Use %DVs to balance you’re daily intake. All foods have a place in a healthy diet. So if you DO happen to have a high-sodium food (for example), just read the labels on your other foods & shoot for lower sodium foods the rest of your day to keep your daily sodium intake within recommendations.
Pay attention to protein—it’s easier to get than you may think since virtually all foods except fruit have at least some protein.
While sugar naturally occurs in many foods, keep in mind that added sugar has many names: evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, sucrose, and brown rice syrup, to name a few.
Don’t forget about the ingredients list. Eventually, this might be the first—and only—place you’ll need to look. Look at the first few ingredients, since they are listed in order of amount in the food. For example, when looking for whole grain bread, make sure the first ingredient includes the word “whole”. In most cases, the shorter the ingredients list, the better. Ideally, every ingredient in the list should be recognizable, but keep in mind that some terms just sound complex, but are really rather simple. For example, ascorbic acid is just vitamin C.
So what are these other labels on foods? Facts Up Front is a voluntary labeling program that aligns with the USDA & FDA’s guidelines & regulations. It brings all of these nutrition details to the front of the product in a clean label that’s easy to read & compare. The four basic nutrition keys are: calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugars. Two additional keys are allowed if the food contains more than 10% of the Daily Value of a nutrient. These might include: fiber, protein, vitamins A, C & D, calcium, potassium, or iron.
What about Guiding Stars? They’ve taken all this information from the Nutrition Facts Panel & ingredients list & used it to rate the nutrition quality of a food. If you’re grocery store has them, use these stars to point you toward foods that have more vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber & whole grains, as well as and less unhealthy fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium. One Guiding Star indicates good nutritional value, two indicate better, and three Guiding Stars indicate best nutritional value. Over 100,000 foods have been rated, so it’s a fun way to involve the kids in healthy food shopping.
As featured on the Charlotte Today show (January 2013):
Melanie Zook, Registered Dietitian & Owner/Founder of Fresh Start Nutrition: How to Read Food Labels & Make Healthy Choices While Grocery Shopping
1. Jump start your fresh start. Try this gentle body detox diet plan.
2. Maximize fruits & veggies. Try adding just one more serving of fruit or vegetables somewhere in your day. Blueberries on your oatmeal. A green smoothie for a snack. A quick, made-ahead salad. Carrot & celery sticks with your sandwich. A simple bean soup for dinner. Does your grocery store not have a great selection? Try a farmers’ market, local CSA or produce delivery service. These are great ways to try new foods & recipes, as well as support local and/or organic farming.
3. Plan ahead for portion control. You’ve heard these tips before, so try practicing one new one at a time.
4. Snack wisely. Change your perception of snacks. Leave the 100-calorie packs on the shelf, and view each snack as an opportunity to squeeze more good nutrition into your day. Here are some suggestions for perfect combinations of healthy fats, protein & fiber, while sneaking in an extra fruit or veggie when possible. Some of my new favorite to-go snacks are KIND bars. They’re full of simple, real food ingredients like nuts & fruit, so are packed with fiber & protein. Give their new Nuts & Spices varieties a try: Dark Chocolate, Nuts & Sea Salt or Madagascar Vanilla Almond, anyone?
5. Simplify your supplements.
Contact me for your omega-3, vitamin D, adult probiotic & kids’ gummy multivitamin needs—I offer complimentary supplement consultations to help make sure you’re taking only what you need, and not what you don’t. OR, order here:
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6. Green your kitchen. Here’s the list of my 10 favorite items for a healthy kitchen, and you can make your kitchen greener pretty cheaply & easily. Shop for reusables, such as a stainless steel water bottle, shopping bags and produce bags. And one of the best things you can do is get rid of the plastic. (Even if plastic storage dishes are BPA-free, what’s the next chemical to be big news?) A set of square or rectangle (more space-efficient than round), 2-cup, and 6-ounce glass containers with lids will cover just about any left over or food storage need you may have in your refrigerator, freezer or pantry. And mason jars are cheap, attractive & functional.
7. Give yourself a pantry & fridge makeover. Pitch expired food & give the shelves a good cleaning. Get rid of unhealthy fats/oils and refined grains. Use up less-than-healthy soups, cereals, snacks, beverages, dressings & sauces, as well as overly-packaged, processed foods. (Want help? Contact me.)
8. Get organized & save money. When things are in order, it’s easier to know (& see) what you already have. That helps in two ways: you’ll be less likely to buy stuff you don’t need AND it helps prevent those last-minute take-out and fast food runs. (It’s just like your closet…do you really have “nothing” to eat?)
9. Restock your kitchen with the Fresh Start Essentials (ingredients of a healthy lifestyle). Make sure you’re stocked up on the ingredients for quick, nutritious meals. Learn how to read food labels when grocery shopping. Keep items on-hand for healthy snacking, wholesome baking, and real food make-ahead mixes. Stretch your food dollar by choosing organic foods wisely (you don’t have to eat all organic in order to eat well), making homemade versions of items as time allows, and planning ahead.
10. Plan ahead & save time. You’ve probably seen all the meal-planning services out there. Pick one, or create a system that works for you. However you do it, coming up with an eating plan (not just dinners, but all meals & snacks) not only saves time, money & errands, but also helps keep your healthy eating on track.
11. Cut out the chemicals. While you’re greening your kitchen & detoxing your diet, don’t forget about the rest of your home. I’ve spent the last 15 years researching ways to clean-up my daily routine. But it wasn’t easy. Finding products that were free of certain chemicals & still worked well, yet were affordable (then finding where to buy them!) was next to impossible. So I ended up just making a lot of my own products. Tools like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database & GoodGuide now make it easy to learn which body care & cleaning products are safe for your family & the Earth, and thankfully, it’s so much more common to find these products in stores & online. (But it can still be a bit overwhelming when you first decide to tackle that medicine cabinet, make-up drawer, shower caddy, laundry room & cleaning bucket!)
One my favorite fresh finds is the 100% Pure line. Try the Super Fruits Age-Corrective face care line & the mascara.
12. Move your body. Find something you love and just do it. (This one is MY biggest challenge…fitness is the first to go for me when I’m busy & stressed or have a sick kid or deadline, even though I know full well a workout would only help me face that challenge head on.) Some fitness trends include Nia & Jazzercise (it’s back!). Body weight training, yoga & running are hotter than ever. Oh, and when you’re finally done moving, don’t forget to rest. Relax. Sleep.
I was provided with samples of KIND Bars. All comments, however, are my own.
What should you have in your kitchen? I get asked that question a lot. So I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite kitchen items that help my family eat well & make the most of our food budget, all while keeping the planet in mind. So without further adieu, in no particular order…
1. Good knives. You don’t even need a full set; just a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife are all you really need. Keep them sharp, since a dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one. And if you’ve never done so, consider taking a knife skills course. It’ll change your life as you know it in the kitchen—food prep will become much more efficient.
2. A VitaMix. A $500 blender, you ask? Oh, yes. Consider it an investment. The price tag will seem a little less steep with every batch of vegetable soup, cheese sauce (leave the pre-packaged mac & cheese on the shelf, once & for all), hummus, frozen dessert, nut butter, baby food or smoothies that you make. Items that you used to buy can now be made at home quickly, easily, and with only a few whole food ingredients. Considering a juicer? Get a VitaMix instead, and eat the whole fruit/vegetable, instead of giving all that great nutrition to your compost pile.
3. Le Creuset bakers. Ideal for roasting vegetables & baking casseroles, but also beautiful enough to go straight from oven-to-table or oven-to-potluck. And they’re surprisingly easy to clean.
4. A popcorn maker. This one isn’t just for kids. Popcorn is a low-cost, whole grain snack, but store-bought microwave bags aren’t the best option. The brown lunch bag trick for popping popcorn doesn’t work well in our new convection/microwave oven combo, so I had to dust off the popcorn maker. Air poppers are great, but I like the nostalgic experience of a stove top popper—a little olive oil is all you need. Try adding popcorn to trail mixes or packed lunches. (Organic popcorn kernels are available at Trader Joe’s.)
5. A slow cooker. But they’re not just for convenient, set-it-and-forget-it meal prep! Try cooking whole grains, dried beans, or even make-ahead breakfasts.
6. Glass prep bowls. Keeping enough of these around is key to efficient meal prep and mise en place (everything in place).
7. Glass storage containers & mason jars. Forget the plastic. (Even if plastic storage dishes are BPA-free, what’s the next chemical to be big news?) A set of square or rectangle (more space-efficient than round), 2-cup, and 6-ounce glass containers with lids will cover just about any left over or food storage need you may have in your refrigerator, freezer or pantry. And mason jars are cheap, attractive & functional.
8. A SodaStream. You’ve seen these around, right? You might see it as another gadget that you just don’t need (like the fondue set or the s’mores maker). Not so. I bought it for two main reasons—for the environment, since I was buying bottle after bottle of club soda, and since I’m just not fan of water. Adding a little fizz to a drink just makes it more fun. I don’t use the syrups; instead, I just add in a splash of lemon, lime or 100% fruit juice for flavor.
9. A Kitchen Aid mixer. It’s a tried & true classic (& have you seen all the fun colors they come in now?). I’ve recently decided to leave mine out on the counter to see if it makes me more inclined to whip up a homemade snack or meal. After all, who wants to bother taking something out of storage (then putting it away again) every time it’s needed? It’s worked—I’ve found that I’ll throw together a batch of homemade granola bars or make whole wheat pizza dough a bit more quickly & conveniently. That’s how healthy eating should be anyway.
10. Items that help you use your freezer for all it’s worth. A freezer can be a big money saver, as well as a secret weapon when it comes to adding good nutrition to your diet. Use ice cube trays to freeze baby food, vegetable & fruit purees, leftover sauces & homemade pesto. Freeze green smoothies in ice pop or push-up makers instead of buying artificially colored/flavored popsicles. Freeze whole wheat pasta, cooked dried beans or whole grain waffles on a silicone mat before storing them in a gallon-sized freezer bag.
With recipes as easy (& nutritious) as this, and that use everyday ingredients, there’s no need to use unnecessary artificial colors, flavors, and packaging.
Inspired by Pinterest & the Meal Makeover Moms, I recently gave this recipe a try. Both my kids loved it, had fun, and got in a few servings of fruit. So give these DIY homemade wiggly, jiggly 100% fruit snacks a try!
100% Real Fruit Snacks (DIY Jell-O Jigglers ®)
1 cup + 1/2 cup 100% fruit juice of your choice (I used V8 Fusion, Acai Mixed Berry Blend)
1 cup frozen fruit (I used a mixed blend of organic berries, including strawberries, blackberries & raspberries)
2 packets gelatin (unflavored; available in the baking aisle)
Sweetener of your choice (optional; I used a bit of honey, but probably would leave out completely next time)
Blend 1 cup of juice + frozen fruit until smooth in a blender.
Pour mixture into a saucepan & bring to a boil.
Pour the 1/2 cup of remaining juice into a bowl & sprinkle the gelatin packets over it; let stand for a few minutes while it thickens.
Add the hot liquid & stir until all is dissolved.
Stir in your sweetener, if using one.
Have some fun with cookie cutters. (Excuse the bubbles on these…I’ll take my time next time & make sure the bubbles are gone! Is anything not rushed these days?!)
A note about gelatin: Gelatin is an animal product, so these are not vegan snacks. Although common in many foods, for some, it may be a questionable ingredient; however, I’m weighing these out, compared to the alternative options that preschoolers & toddlers are typically offered.
Image from Pickled Plum.
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes…all indulgent Holiday foods, but this year, you’ve promised yourself that you wouldn’t overdo it. Here are eight ways to keep you feeling full & satisfied:
Eat plenty of fiber. You want to feel full and satisfied on controlled portions. One way to do this is by eating fiber-rich foods, such as most fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains. Fiber slows digestion, and many of these foods tend to be lower in calories as well.
Soup up your meals. Ever notice how a warm bowl of soup fills you up? Drinking water alone will quench your thirst, but it won’t satisfy your hunger for long. When you eat water-rich foods (such as broth-based soup), you’ll feel fuller without consuming extra calories.
Keep seconds out of sight. Instead of placing extra food on the table, leave those mashed potatoes on the stovetop. Knowing you’ll have to get up to get a second helping might help you refrain. Or “feed your freezer”—pack yourself a pre-portioned dinner with your leftovers right away.
Visualize serving sizes. Knowing what serving sizes look like simplifies portion control. For example: 3 ounces of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of a deck of cards, and one serving of potatoes, rice, or pasta is about the size of a tennis ball.
Look for lean protein. Lean protein, such as fish, skinless white-meat poultry, low fat dairy products, and eggs, may help you feel fuller with fewer calories. Try quick omelets and simple scrambles.
Trick your tummy. Use smaller plates and utensils. The size of the average dinner plate has grown in size over the last few decades. When the food fills the entire plate or bowl, it will seem like you’re eating more. And using a smaller fork or spoon means you’ll have to take more bites, which slows your eating down.
Spoil your dinner. If you’re hungry between meals, reach for a healthy snack to help avoid overeating at the main meal. Aim for healthy fats, fiber & protein.
Don’t eat straight from the package. Pre-portion your snacks into a bowl instead of eating straight from the package, and you’ll be less likely to overdo it.
And most of all, be mindful while you’re eating—take time to enjoy your food & all the tastes, aromas & textures it has to offer.
As featured on the Charlotte Today show (November 2012):
Melanie Zook, Registered Dietitian & Owner/Founder of Fresh Start Nutrition: 8 Ways to Feel Full on Fewer Calories
Nothing says “Thanksgiving” quite like cranberries. But they’re also an easy, tasty complement to oatmeal, rice and grain side dishes, meat entrées, casseroles, salads, yogurt, cottage cheese, sandwich wraps, home baked cookies, muffins, granola bars, breads & make-ahead breakfasts, so you can enjoy them throughout the year. You can also feel good about their nutrition.
Dried cranberries are a good source of fiber, and fit within the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate recommendations to help you increase your daily fruit intake—a half-cup of dried cranberries is equal to one serving of fruit, while one cup of fresh, chopped cranberries has over five grams of fiber, and is a good source of potassium & vitamin C. Why are dried cranberries sweetened? Unlike other berries, cranberries are naturally low in sugar and high in acidity so they require sweetening to be palatable—but the amount of sugar in dried cranberries is equal to that of other dried fruits. They’re a convenient, high-energy grab-and-go snack on their own, or toss together a high-fiber, antioxidant-rich trail mix with dried cranberries, toasted oat cereal, almonds & mini dark chocolate chips. For kids, you’ve heard of “ants on a log”. How about trying “red ants on a log”?
Flavonoids, such as those found in cranberries, give fruits and vegetables most of their antioxidant properties and a flavonoid-rich diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cranberries naturally contain the flavonoid proanthocyanidin (PAC) and other polyphenols that have potential health benefits, including inhibiting the bacteria associated with UTIs, gum disease & stomach ulcers. Who knew fighting bacteria could be so yummy?
My “green” side likes that cranberries are grown more locally than many fruits—they’re one of the three widely farmed, commercially cultivated fruits native to North America. So add fresh & dried cranberries to your colorful diet, all year round!
This is a sponsored post. I have been compensated for my time; however, all thoughts are my own.
It’s that time of year for just about anything pumpkin, so why not a nutrient-packed smoothie? Try it for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. This one was first created when I had sweet potato baby food cubes in the freezer that needed to be used up (so feel free to use sweet potato or pumpkin in the recipe).
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
1 cup (approximate) low fat milk (you can substitute soy or almond milk)
1 cup (approximate) low fat plain yogurt (you can use vanilla if you prefer sweeter smoothies)
1 banana (frozen or fresh, but frozen will make the smoothie thicker)
1/2 can of pureed pumpkin (if you won’t be using the leftovers for another recipe in the next few days, freeze it in ice cube trays
Dash of vanilla extract
Dash of pumpkin pie spice (or use your own blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)
Maple syrup, to taste (optional; use the real stuff)
Pour into a glass, top with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice (or nutmeg) & enjoy!
*My go-to machine for smoothies, juices & other recipes is the Vitamix.
Enjoying this for breakfast? Add some uncooked oatmeal.
Or, if you prefer oatmeal the traditional way, here’s how to make pumpkin spiced oatmeal
While fall isn’t typically popsicle season, you can freeze leftovers in a popsicle maker
. When frozen, store them individually wrapped in snack-size Ziploc
bags. Keep the used, empty bags in the freezer & reuse them.
We’re all busy. We’re all multi-tasking. But “convenience” items, drive thrus & energy bars or drinks aren’t the best choices. What to do instead?
Why not energy bars?
They can contain excess calories. (Don’t forget that energy = calories!) They can also contain overly processed ingredients (such as processed soy), unproven additives (such as herbs), sugar and/or other sweeteners, and even excess sodium. A lot of energy bars are high in protein, but contrary to popular belief, most of us don’t need more protein than we’re already getting from a balanced diet. Finally, when combined with supplements, fortified foods/drinks or other bars you’re consuming throughout the day, you may be getting too much of one or more vitamins or minerals.
These bars might satisfy your hunger, but they may not satisfy your appetite. And it’s the combination of satisfying hunger and appetite that gives us a feeling of satiety—that feeling of satisfaction that temporarily halts our desire to keep eating.
Plus, they’re expensive.
Time-saving, organizational tips for on the go to cut down on those last-minute grab-anything moments…
Plan, plan, plan. As with anything, set yourself up for snacking success by planning ahead the night before or in the morning. Plan out your snacks, just like you plan out your meals.
Keep your car stocked with healthy snacks.
Keep a snack section in your bags—your work bag, your gym bag, your kids’ pool bag.
Have plenty of reusable containers on hand (I’m partial to glass or stainless steel). Try divided containers
, or check out this post
for more options.
Stay organized. Keep separate clear bins
in your pantry and refrigerator/freezer that are designated for grab, pack, and go items for snacks. Keep your pantry bin stocked with milk in aseptic packs
, pouches of wild Alaskan salmon
, pre-portioned nut butters, snacks such as dried fruit
or whole grain crackers that you’ve pre-portioned into reusable bags
, or prepackaged store bought items
. Keep your fridge/freezer bin stocked with: pre-portioned or store bought yogurt
, hummus, applesauce
, hard-boiled eggs, whole grain fruit muffins, string cheese, cut up fruits & veggies pre-portioned in reusable bags
, frozen soups, frozen pre-sliced chicken breast, and frozen smoothies (see below).
What to eat for energy-boosting snacks?
The perfect snack combinations have healthy fats, protein & fiber, including the right balance of good carbohydrates & protein.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits & vegetables are always a great snack, and what’s easier than one that comes in its own package? DOLE bananas are a good source of vitamins B6
& C, as well as potassium & fiber. A banana is already nature’s original energy bar, but you could also make your own nutrition-packed energy bars using whole food ingredients, like these banana oat & fruit bars
. Make these ahead, freeze them individually wrapped, then just toss one in your bag on the way out the door. Bananas are also a great for an energy boost for workouts. In a study done that compared them to sports drinks, bananas provided equal performance & recovery, more nutrients & no artificial ingredients, but at a 1/3 of the price.
Pouch of wild Alaskan salmon or sliced, grilled chicken breast—combine with whole grain crackers
Cheese cubes & a sliced apple
-fat, gluten, peanut and tree nut free. It’s baked, all-natural, and has half the fat & fewer calories than regular fried potato chips, but the real cheese & crunch make you feel satisfied.
Soups. Freeze vegetarian bean soups, such as minestrone or lentil, in 2-cup glass bowls
. When they’re frozen, warm the outside just enough so that the frozen soup pops through. Freeze the soup “molds” in zip top freezer bags. When you need a serving of soup, pop a frozen “mold” of soup back in same bowl & defrost.
Sweet & Creamy Snacks
You can also help Operation Smile give 500 cleft surgeries to children in need just by posting a picture of your ice cream smile on the Edy’s Facebook page.
As featured on the Charlotte Today show (August 2012):
Melanie Zook, Registered Dietitian & Owner/Founder of Fresh Start Nutrition: Healthy, High Energy Snacks to Grab on the Go
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for my time & sent samples of products; however, all opinions stated are my own.
Many people are looking to eat more whole foods: with fewer ingredients, and no preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, or other additives. They’re going back to basics and thinking outside the box—of packaged food, that is! Thanks to Pinterest, DIY is bigger than ever, and it’s exciting to see that trend move into the kitchen more & more. Home cooks are looking to save time & money, not to mention space in their pantry & fridge. So when it comes to the kitchen, save the extra errands, the excess packaging and the unnecessary additives and make your own!
Whole Grain Pancake Mix
We should be aiming to make half of our grains whole, but a lot of the pancake mixes out there are NOT whole grain—they’re typically made with enriched wheat flour (& not whole wheat flour). This make-ahead mix is not only multigrain, but WHOLE grain. To make the mix…
Ingredients (blend all of the following & store in an airtight jar):
1/2 cup flax seeds, finely ground
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup finely ground cornmeal (not corn grits or polenta)
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
When it comes time to make your pancake batter, you would blend…
For each pancake, pour about 1/3 cup of the pancake batter onto a greased griddle and cook, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through.
Top with real maple syrup or a dollop of whipped cream.
Cream of Anything Soup Mix (Link to post here.)
Chocolate Syrup (Link to post here.)
Soda Pop (Link to post here.)
You might not have a packet of taco seasoning on hand, or you may just want to avoid some of the additives, such as MSG. To make it, you mix up a blend of spices you probably already have. Store the seasoning mix in your pantry or spice cabinet in an airtight jar.
Recipe adapted from Smashed Peas and Carrots.
Yogurt Cups (Link to post here.)
Salad Dressings (Link to post here.)
Other Tips for Making DIY Homemade Healthy Make-Ahead Kitchen Mixes
As featured on the Charlotte Today show (June 2012):
Melanie Zook, Registered Dietitian & Owner/Founder of Fresh Start Nutrition: How to Make Your Own DIY Homemade Healthy Make Ahead Kitchen Mixes
We’ve already mentioned nutritious ways to top your salad, including salad dos and don’ts and some healthy salad swaps, as well as how to choose a healthy salad dressing. One of the best ways to dress your salad is with a homemade dressing. It’s quicker & easier than you think to whip up your own! If you’re looking to eat more whole foods, with fewer additives, such as sodium, artificial flavorings & preservatives, then DIY salad dressings are the way to go.
For each of the following real food salad dressing recipes, the ingredients are simply guidelines. Experiment with the amounts of each ingredient until you find your favorite homemade dressing!
Creamy Caesar-Style Dressing:
About 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Minced garlic (to taste)
Olive oil (make a lower-fat version by replacing some oil with vegetable stock)
Any vinegar, such as balsamic, champagne or red wine vinegar
Minced garlic (to taste)
Salt, pepper, & herbs (such as oregano)
Toasted sesame oil
(from $5 Dinner Mom)
Blend the following dry ingredients. Keep this master mix on hand in your pantry or spice cabinet. When you need to whip up some fresh homemade Ranch-style dressing, mix 1 tablespoon of mix with 1/2 cup of low fat yogurt or sour cream.
- 2 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon pepper
As featured on the Charlotte Today Show (April 2012):
Melanie Zook, Registered Dietitian & Owner/Founder of Fresh Start Nutrition: How to Make Your Own Healthy DIY Homemade Salad Dressings or Choose One at the Store or Restaurant