Category Archives: antioxidants

herbs & spices for flavor and health


I love this time of year, (even if Ohio may be seeing its first snow fall towards the end of this week…ugh) NCAA basketball and football seasons overlap. Basketball games during the week and football on the weekends makes me a happy camper! 😀 Anyone else??

I found an interesting article yesterday on herbs and spices and I wanted to share a few tidbits. The article was written by a Registered Dietitian and discussed dried vs. fresh herbs, and the overall health benefits of herbs and spices.

First things first, herbs and spices are essential in the health-conscious kitchen. Herbs and spices come with powerful flavor and with negligible calories, fat, or sodium. Rather than adding salt, the use of herbs and spices can flavor cooking and baking for a most delicious result. The article notes that herbs and spices should be used within 6 months for the most nutritional benefit. Dried herbs and spices lose nutritional value if they lose color or scent, so it’s best to only buy what you need. Store your herbs and spices in a cool, dark, dry place to keep them fresher longer. And remember, dried herbs can always be substituted for fresh in a 1-to-3 ratio.

The Stars:

Rosemary: antioxidant, anti-cancer and helps cholesterol
Cinnamon: the most potent anti-oxidant spice, can reduce blood sugar, is anti-inflammatory, can reduce symptoms of nausea and stomach ulcers
Thyme: antioxidant, anti-bacterial, contains omega 3’s
Curry powder: Reduces joint inflammation, may help prevent heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s
Ginger: Anti-inflammatory, helps circulation, used to tread digestion, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, menstrual symptoms, headaches, and flu-like symptoms


On that note…a delicious recipe with curry powder!

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp roasted cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp madras curry powder
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz (about 2 cups) chopped peeled butternut squash
1 cup light coconut milk
3 cups fat free vegetable or chicken broth
salt and fresh pepper to taste (1/4 tsp salt + pepper)
chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


Add oil to a medium soup pot, on medium heat. When oil is hot add onion, garlic and sauté. Add roasted cumin, masala and madras curry powder and mix well cooking another minute. Add broth, light coconut milk, butternut squash and cook covered until squash is soft, 12-15 minutes. Remove cover and using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth (or puree in a blender). Season with salt and fresh pepper and serve with fresh cilantro. Serves 3.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 158 calories; 6.7 g. fat;  0 mg. cholesterol; 374 mg. sodium; 22.3 g. carbohydrate; 4.3 g. fiber; 2.3 g. protein

Result: This was amazing! The flavors are outstanding – sweet, spicy, and a party in your mouth. When I heated up the leftovers in the break room at work, people thought it was a dessert. This soup is excellent, not sure what more to say other than it’s healthy, too!

I have a 3 mile run planned before work…off I go! 😀

Trivia Question: What is the #1 most requested pizza topping in the US?

I am planning a Q&A for next week. Send your questions (nutrition-related or otherwise) to me at!

Be well,



Filed under antioxidants, blog topic request, blood glucose, cancer, cholesterol, chronic disease, complimentary and alternative nutrition, diabetes, diet, dinner, exercise, fish oil/omega-3's, fruits and vegetables, garlic, healthy cooking, heart health, herbs, pizza, recipe, running, sodium, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

Garlic & Kale Soup

Mr. Prevention: Are you ever going to use all that kale you’re growing?
Me: Yes.
Mr. Prevention: When? How?
Me: Today. Garlic and Kale Soup.
Mr. Prevention: Silence.

Garlic and Kale Soup slightly adapted from Food Fitness Fresh Air

Note:  Wheat berries need to be soaked overnight prior to making the following recipe.  If soaked and not used right away, simply drain and store in fridge.  They will last several days this way.

1/2 cup of wheat berries, soaked overnight
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 oz. shitake mushrooms
10 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
15 0z. kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh peas
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce, to taste


Soak wheat berries in bowl of cold water overnight, filling bowl at least one inch above berries.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Saute 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown.  Add sliced garlic and saute two minutes more.  Stir in vinegar, using it to scrape any brown bits stuck to the pan.

Simmer until vinegar is nearly evaporated.  Ddrain wheat berries and add to pan, along with vegetable broth and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes.

Add kale and cook for 5 minutes.  Add peas to pan and cook another 5 minutes, or until peas and kale are tender.  Stir in tabasco sauce to taste, and additional salt (both optional). Serves 8 (approx. 1 cup each).

Nutrition Information (per cup): 128 calories; 4 g. fat; 257 mg. sodium; 19.4 g. carbohydrate; 4.9 g. fiber; 5.2 g. protein

Result: The soup had a faint sweet flavor from the rice vinegar — definitely the key ingredient. And just as Grace said when she made this soup, it is PACKED with nutrient-rich foods high in flavor, antioxidants, fiber, and more. While this soup wouldn’t quite cut it as an entree with my appetite, it’s a wonderful addition to any entree. 😀

Speaking of gardens…it was a bountiful weekend!


Question: Do you consider soup a year-round food, or do you prefer to eat it during the colder months only?

Hope you get the day off to play!


Filed under antioxidants, fiber, fruits and vegetables, garden, recipe, Uncategorized

Coconut oil: health food or health fad?

Firstly, I want to give a shout out to all the new readers of Prevention RD! In the past 2 days there’s been lots of new “faces” – so happy to hear from you! I am insanely behind this week on blog reading, but can’t wait to catch up with you this weekend! 😀 I didn’t know if Thursday would ever make it here, but I’m sooo excited to start my 3-day weekend!



If you buzz around the blogosphere you’ve definitely read something about coconut oil and/or butter. Tracey brilliantly asked me to share some important information about these foods on my blog, and I am so glad she did! This is a HOT topic right now!

My $0.02 on Coconut Oil

[Note: Due to MAJOR differences in nutrition components, I will discuss coconut water in a later post.]

Various fat sources are like various sugar (and sugar substitute) sources…they can all be a part of a healthy, balanced intake. Unfortunately, we (the consumers) hear something is “good” for us, and we become OBSESSED with this illusive idea of “super healthy foods”. Take for example, antioxidants. Cooking Light recently discussed the passing phase of “Super Foods” and “antioxidants” – we knew nuts, seeds, salmon, and berries were good for us. But we need not shun everything else. Same goes for sugar and sugar substitutes. Stevia is showing great promise as a 100% safe and all-natural, calorie-free sweeteners, but why commit to just one sweetener? Honey and agave sure have their place, especially with their low glycemic index. Food monogamy = no bueno!

I feel the same about fats, including tropical fats such as coconut oil and butter. If you simply Google “Is coconut oil healthy?” get ready to find a lot of coconut proponent sites. This is NOT where credible information is found…it’s where suckers go and money-making happens. There are no large-scale, valid, or reliable studies to date supporting claims that coconut oils and butters produce weight loss, boost energy, increase immunity, cure hypothyroidism, increase satiety, or decrease cravings. However, there are credible studies supporting heart-healthy diets which include a healthy balance of fats – saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. A mixed-fat diet best supports a healthy ratio of HDL-cholesterol (the good) to LDL-cholesterol (the bad). Note: TRANS fat is never considered a healthy fat to include in the diet. Coconut oil should be never be hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated (check the ingredient list for these key words!), as that indicates trans fat content.

What we do know is that coconut oil contains a lot of saturated fat – 91-92% saturated fat — 4x the amount in Crisco shortening and 12x more than canola oil. The fat in coconut oil is in the form of medium-chain triglyercerides (MCT), which means little to most. In brief, medium-chain triglycerides are quickly cleared from the blood and are a completely oxidized for energy. While that is wonderful for critically ill patients unable to properly digest fats, that means little for the general, healthy population. Furthermore, MCT’s do not contain any essential fatty acids (omega 3’s and 6’s which are not made by the body). And for what it’s worth, the Food and Drug Administration, as well as the American Medical Association, endorse limiting saturated fats, and therefore tropical oils (but that’s not to say don’t include them in moderation).

Tracey’s Q: Is coconut oil healthy?
My A: Not really…nope.

Tracey’s Q: Is it just a fad?
My A: I’d say so. Unless people are just now learning they enjoy coconut?? 😉

Bottom Line:

  • If you choose to consume coconut oil/butter, choose a product which has not been hydrogenated (check the label!)
  • Limit your saturated fat intake to 7% or less of your daily caloric intake (11.5 grams for a 1,500 calorie intake; 14 grams for a 1,800 calorie intake; 15.5 grams for a 2,000 calorie intake)
  • Include a variety of fats from the diet – canola oil, olive oil, and flaxseed oil all contain both essential fatty acids, and contain WAY less saturated fat than coconut oil
  • Complete annual blood work with your medical provider – this should include a lipid panel
  • Never “marry” a food – variety is the key to success!

There’s so much conflicting information on health and nutrition…and it can be hard to decipher. And while some of it is confusing, or contains a lot of gray area, that’s the way the health industry goes. We’re all learning together. Always. But the more we learn, the more we can utilize in optimizing our health.

Me, personally? It’s ironic that Tracey asked this question this week, because I picked up some coconut oil on Monday at the store. I have several recipes calling for coconut oil that I’d like to try. My draw to trying coconut oil is simply pleasure…love coconut! Unless it’s to-die-for-good, it will likely be a one-time purchase for my kitchen! Personally, I’m canola oil’s #1 fan! 😉

Question: Have you used coconut butter or oil? Did you like it? Were you/are you weary to use it based on its saturated fat content?

Heart smart,


Filed under antioxidants, artificial sweeteners, aspartame, blog topic request, butter, coconut oil, fish oil/omega-3's, food safety, fruits and vegetables, glycemic index, healthy cooking, heart health, hydrogenation, MUFAs and PUFAs, research study, saturated fat, stevia, sugar substitutes, trans fat, Uncategorized


I think it’s been MONTHS since I posted 2x in one day! Whew! So much going on and so little time in which to share and catch up with you all! Forgive me for not being as “active” in the Blogosphere — work is busy and I am continuously striving for a healthy life-work-happiness-blog balance 🙂 Just like my garden should come with a warning, so should blogging — it quickly becomes very time-consuming!! 😉

If you haven’t already checked out my finished garden bed, be sure you do! I am very proud!

On to the Q&A…

Ambre: I’m a new-vegetarian…as of the end of November/beginning of December…Well, technically pescetarian. I’m doing the Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure in November (my 2nd time), which is a 60 mile walk over the course of three days. I found this information on their website, and I was wondering if there was anything else you recommend for me?

In order for vegetarian diets to support optimal athletic performance, it is important to incorporate an adequate amount of protein into your daily diet. Many people believe that following a vegetarian diet means they automatically will lose weight. This is not necessarily the case as many vegetarians inadvertently have a high fat intake based on whole-fat dairy products, butter, eggs, cheeses, nuts and seeds. Below are some tips for following a healthy vegetarian diet to help lose weight, maintain an optimal protein intake and support your training walks: 1. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products or low-fat fortified soy products. 2. Build your protein around legumes, tofu and tempeh. 3. Watch serving sizes on nuts and seeds; they are full of healthy fat but are very concentrated in calories. 4. Avoid fried foods and choose those that are baked, broiled, or steamed. 5. Add protein powder to shakes or cereal if you are not getting enough. 6. Increase your bean intake; they are high in protein and fiber. 7. Add soy products to your diet. 8. Limit snacks that are high in sugar and fat. 9. Flavor foods with salsa, lemon juice and vinegars instead of high-fat condiments like butter, mayonnaise and high-fat dressings. Certain vitamins and minerals such as iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12, calcium and zinc must be consumed in adequate amounts. These typically are found in animal based foods. Fortified soymilks are great for boosting calcium and vitamin B12. Eggs also are a great source of B12. Outstanding iron sources include fortified breakfast cereals, bread, textured vegetable protein, legumes, dried beans, nuts, dried fruit and green leafy vegetables. Eating rich sources of vitamin C with meats will help enhance iron absorption.

Prevention RD: Great question, Ambre! The suggestions the website made are really helpful. I don’t agree that soy should be added to the diet, however. I think that there are some benefits of soy in moderation, but some research suggests soy intake is related to increased risk of breast cancer. I particularly like that the information fully discloses that a vegetarian diet does not necessarily produce weight loss. When you cut out major foods groups in the diet, intake of other food groups naturally increases. When meat is taken out of the diet, protein intake tends to drop and fat and carbohydrate intake goes up. Thus it is important to get adequate protein (0.8-1 gram per kilogram of body weight) and to ensure fat sources are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fat versus saturated and trans fat and carbohydrate sources are complex and high in fiber. I hope this helps! Feel free to email me any further questions on this and I can help calculate some nutrient goals for you! And thanks for walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day! You are inspirational!

Also, please consider giving to Ambre’s fund-raising! A little bit will truly make a difference! I always feel so empowered after giving to a great cause!

John of Challenges 2010: When I get my blood checked can you give me an idea of what things to make sure they check. I mean they check for the good/bad cholesterol and blood sugar and really can’t remember what else. Reason I ask is I’m up here in Canada and it sounds like they don’t check out as many things or I just don’t know what other info I should be trying to get off them.

Prevention RD: This is a really great question and my answer may be biased from a nutrition perspective, but I’ll give it a go! I ALWAYS check: total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol (the “bad”), HDL-cholesterol (the “good”), triglycerides, GFR (kidney function), plasma glucose, HbA1c (on my diabetics and pre-diabetics), TSH (metabolism), hemoglobin, hematocrit, TIBC (total iron binding capacity), AST and ALT (liver enzymes). For what it’s worth our clinic runs a CMP (complete metabolic panel), lipids (cholesterol), TSH, and CBC (complete metabolic panel) on patients annually. This is going to include everything I look at as a dietitian and then some. Good for you for being an active advocate for your health! We cannot always leave our well-being in the hands of professionals.

John of Challenges 2010: According to SparkPeople I don’t eat enough carbs. I do not try to avoid carbs. I do try and get my macronutrients in a 40:30:30 ratio for carbs, fats and proteins. Is there a minimum number you recommend and can you give me some ideas besides arborio rice 🙂 that are higher in carbs but still not bad in calories?

Prevention RD: Risotto everyday! Just kidding…that’s a joke for John since he got me hooked on Arborio rice 🙂 I think knowing your body weight would give me a better idea of how many grams you need, but with all of your exercise I would think 50% calories from carbohydrates may be a better fit for your needs. I’m a fan of 40:30:30 for those who are inactive, but that’s not you. Exercise requires a lot of glycogen (carbohydrate stores) and replenishment of the glycogen stores after long workouts. For a 2,000 calorie diet, this would be 250 grams of carbohydrates. I never recommend much below 150-160 grams, and that’s for my diabetics or petite patients. As for sources of carbohydrate: fruits, vegetables, legumes, milk, yogurt, and whole grains (bread, rice, pasta, quinoa, millet, barley, oats, etc.). Of course juice, sugar, candy, pastries, and sweets will contain plentiful amounts of simple carbohydrates, as well. But aim to have at LEAST half your grains as whole each day!

John of Challenges 2010: Green Tea…what are the health benefits and is there a difference between the stuff you brew at home or pick-up bottled?

Prevention RD: Green tea — thumbs up! Green tea with aspartame or loads of sugar — thumbs down! Like many things health-related we can observe the practices of the East where tea (green and otherwise) are staple beverages. There is no denying that green tea offers a zero-calorie, antioxidant-rich, tasty thirst quencher with a MUCH lower caffeine content than most other caffeinated beverages, but what is added TO the green tea is the deciding factor in it’s benefit. Most of the green teas on the market which are bottled and sweetened contain excessive amounts of sugar (64 grams in some!) or aspartame. Additionally, many bottled teas are made from tea powder which lacks the antioxidants of brewed tea. The bottled green teas may also contain preservatives to extend shelf-life which many times add sodium to the tea, as well as making it less “pure” (I will NOT use the word “CLEAN”!). I hope this helps some…another really great question!

Rebecca from France: I’m curious to know your opinion on artificial sweetners/sugar substitutes.  My mother uses Splenda a lot and these types of sweeters are just starting to grow in popularity in France.  But how healthy are they really?  I ask because most people would agree that “processed meat,” for example, isn’t as healthy as a cut of meat.  So why, then, would processed/artificial sweetners be a good choice to put in our bodies (as opposed to “real” sugar)?

Prevention RD: I want to quote Cara from Cara’s Cravings. Last week’s Q&A had a question about sweeteners, and she left a great comment that read:

I don’t think there’s a definitive answer on what the healthiest alternative to sugar is. There are so many ways to be healthy! For some people, it’s really important to limit those extra calories, and I happen to think that some artificial sweetener here and there is not going to kill you, and can certainly help with a weight-loss diet. For some people, keeping it all-natural is a top priority. Personally? I’m somewhere in the middle so I use a variety of sweeteners – Truvia, agave in moderation, a little splenda here and there, and real sugar.

I agree with Cara’s words 100%. Working with a large diabetic population, I know the importance of artificial sweeteners. And for those watching their weight, artificial sweeteners allow a lot more flexibility in their diet. As someone who not only “knows” nutrition, but also struggles with their weight, I too see the value in non-nutritive sweeteners (calorie-free). However, I do believe artificial sweeteners are WAY over-used in our society. I aim to use a variety of sweeteners and ALL of them in moderation — I drink 1 can of Zevia a day (Stevia-sweetened carbonated beverage) and use Splenda, brown sugar, suncant, cane sugar, granular sugar, powdered sugar, agave, honey, molasses, maple syrup, and so on in cooking and baking. As far as artificial sweeteners, I strictly use Splenda and Stevia products and steer clear of aspartame and Sweet ‘n’ Low, Equal, Twin, etc. Bottom line is that there’s no single way to reach “good health” and that one person’s goals and needs are very different from the next person’s. I hope this helps — excellent question! 🙂

Thanks everyone for submitting wonderful questions! Feel free to send any nutrition questions my way and I will be happy to answer them on the next Q&A!

And an Oklahoma joke for the day…

You know you work in Oklahoma when the doctor on staff leaves at 1 pm to go deliver a calf. But, he’ll be back just as soon as he can!


Filed under antioxidants, artificial sweeteners, blog topic request, blood glucose, caffeine, carbohydrates, cholesterol, diabetes, diet, dietitians, doctors, garden, hormones, low-carb, MUFAs and PUFAs, physicians, protein, reduced-calorie, saturated fat, sodium, Splenda, stevia, sugar substitutes, supplements, trans fat, vitamins, weight loss, weight maintentance

Q&A & Vitalicious Winner!

Marla of Family Fresh Cooking: How in the world do you figure out calorie counts in recipes?  (I know that is a huge part of being an RD!)

Prevention RD: I either add up the totals for the ingredients in the recipe by looking at the label for calories, sodium, fiber, etc. or what I more commonly do is enter the entire recipe into and divide by the number of servings. The Calorie Count website is also great, though they don’t have verified nutrition facts like Daily Plate. Both work well and is super easy to use! Great question! Calculating recipes can be a bit tedious, but I figure I only need to do it once for something I love and want to make in the future!

Paul of Mostly Grocery: Should replacement shakes be used if you’re trying to diet?

Prevention RD: I think there’s a time and a place for meal replacement shakes. Are they a ticket for weight-loss? Absolutely not. Meal replacements tend to be moderate in calories and protein, low in fiber, and contain various vitamins and minerals. Most people find that drinking a “meal” will not keep them satisfied for long. Typically, people purchasing meal replacement supplements are looking for a healthy to-go option and I think that with a little planning, it’s very possible to throw together something more nutritionally sound and filling, and certainly a bit cheaper. Great question! Supplements are a hot topic…always!

John of Challenges2010: What’s the price comparison between Kefir and Yogurt…$/serving?

Prevention RD: This is a hard question to compare, apples-to-apples. Are we comparing organic Kefir to standard yogurt? Organic yogurt? Organic Greek yogurt? Greek yogurt is currently the most expensive yogurt on the market. Organic yogurt is the next most expensive, and standard  yogurts are cheapest (generic brands coming in at the bottom of the range). Kefir is approximately $0.75-$0.99 per serving (8 ounces) which is comparable to Greek yogurt. Sale prices and location will alter this information, but this is estimated off my local prices here in Tulsa. Good question!!

Christina of Faith, Fitness, and Fun: What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Prevention RD: My poor memory will probably fail me here, but ONE crazy thing my hockey team did was make a “Sexy” University of Illinois Women’s Ice Hockey calendar. You know, like the firemen do 😉 We put on our hockey equipment…thongs…bras…and other lingerie on top. We took “seductive” pictures on the Zamboni and all around the rink. It was a blast and a bit on the crazy side…right? 😉 I’m lame, I know! I know!

Christina of Faith, Fitness, and Fun: Do you have any regrets about things in your life? Or something you thought you would regret, but ended up being a great decision?

Prevention RD: I can honestly say I don’t have any real regrets in life. Yet, anyways! I did, however, think that I may regret living in Italy for a summer with my husband (fiancé at the time). The time I spent in Italy was the summer before going into grad school, and while my peers were earning money and gaining experience in the field, I was frolicking around Italy playing stay-at-home fiancé! I had to ship about 40 pounds of text books overseas and spend a substantial amount of time each day getting ready for grad school (you should’ve SEEN the pre-work we were assigned…holy moly!).

The other thing that comes to mind is accepting my current position. I was looking for my first job out of grad school during the recent economic turmoil. I finally received an offer…in the boonies and for much less money than I wanted to be making. But, I accepted. Four days after starting work, the RD’s got a 40% salary increase!! Talk about a blessing from above! Plus, it happened on my birthday! But, nope…no regrets thus far!

Christina of Faith, Fitness, and Fun: Is your blog different now than what you expected it to be when first starting out?

Prevention RD: When I started my blog, I had no expectations. I hadn’t ever read a single blog post until after I had started my own blog! What has become of my blog, I am very pleased with! I hope to continue writing, learning, teaching, and growing through blogging! I have always wanted to be a writer and I feel that blogging may lead me to writing opportunities at some point. Until then, I will be patient and keep doing what I love!

Rebecca from France: Is there anything good to be had in mushrooms?  I really like them and like to cook with them (real mushrooms, of course, not the canned leather variety) but my boyfriend 1) doesn’t like their texture and 2) thinks there are no substantial nutrients in them.  Who is right?

Prevention RD: Mushrooms have a lot of positive health benefits! They are high in dietary fiber (including a fiber associated with cholesterol-lowering effects – chitin) and heart health properties found in beta-glutans. Another interesting fact about mushrooms is that their protein content and carbohydrate content are just about the same, meaning mushrooms are approximately 50% carbohydrate and 50% protein. That’s very rare in a vegetable! Or, should I say fungi? 🙂 The texture of mushrooms is a result of the carbohydrate-protein-fiber content and unless the texture is manually altered (chopped, pureed, etc), there is not much you can do about the texture. But, alas, you are correct…mushrooms offer excellent nutritional benefits! Awesome question!

Lori: I have high blood pressure and have had it since I was 15 (35 now). I found out that I have hyperaldosteronism and am on Spirnolactone. I am also allergic to wheat. I eat a clean diet but am having a lot of trouble losing weight. I do eat low fat dairy and some meat (mostly chicken). Is it possible that I have an iodine deficiency that is causing thyroid problems and therefore hindering weight loss? PS I have had a goiter before the size of a baseball from over-consumption of soy, I was trying to go vegan, and not eat wheat…

Prevention RD: Firstly, I wanted to say that I’m very sorry you’ve had to make such drastic dietary changes, on top of battling your weight (just know you’re not alone on that front!). That’s a lot to take on and many would just throw up their arms in defeat. Second, I have to put in my disclaimer in that I am not a diagnostician and I am only responding based on what I know about you (above) and what I know about iodine, hyperaldosteronism, and diet. But, I want to take a stab at your question 🙂

My first thought may seem basic, but are you sure your goiter was not an adrenal tumor? Many hyperaldosteronism cases are due to benign tumors growing on the adrenal gland and treatment is removal of the tumor. Assuming a tumor is NOT the cause of your hyperaldosteronism, rest assured that your high blood pressure IS likely due to your condition and not your diet. Spironolactone is a drug used to treat hyperaldosteronism and is assisting in blood pressure regulation. Potassium should be limited in the diet and therefore multivitamins containing potassium, potassium supplements, and salt substitutes should be avoided. Potassium in the diet should also be limited. For a list of potassium content in foods, visit here. The reason for limiting potassium intake is to protect the kidneys.

Iodine deficiency is VERY rare given the US food supply. Iodine is found in salt, dairy, seafood, and plants grown in rich soil. It does play a vital role in metabolic processes such as the conversion of food to usable energy in the body; iodine deficiency can cause a slight increase in body weight. I would contact a primary care provider and ask for your thyroid to be checked (specifically, the TSH which could indicate an iodine deficiency). I wish you all the best in figuring out what’s going on. I hope all checks out!

John of Challenges 2010: I was wondering what the difference is between Arborio rice and white rice? I love Arborio because I can just cook all of my meal in one pot. But am wondering if I should be avoiding this too and having brown rice instead?

Prevention RD: Arborio rice is the short grain used to make risotto, for those who are not familiar with this grain. And, while it is delicious, it is significantly higher in calories. Compared to ½ cup (dry) white rice (160 calories) and brown rice (150 calories), Arborio rice contains 320 calories for the same size serving. Brown rice contains 2 grams of fiber while white rice and Arborio contain no fiber. That’s the skinny on the nutrition, but I’m with you…I want some good risotto ever now and then! Great question, John!

Tiffany: I’ve been researching superfoods to help and am a little confused. Some say there are 5, some say 20, some say 15, some say there are groups of foods. Also I know oats are a superfood but are there any others in this category to help me branch out and do you have any good recipes? (e.g bulgar or quinoa?)

Prevention RD: I have a confession: I hate the term “Superfood”. We coin and label our foods as “good” and “bad”. Before “Superfoods” emerged, did we NOT know that broccoli, oranges, oats, and omega-3 rich fish were good for us? A lot of foods have anti-cancer, heart-health, and mood-related benefits. So does exercise! I don’t put any emphasis on “Superfoods” as I am a firm believer in variety and very much so resist any classification of “good food” and “bad food” — or even “good food” and “best food”. If we eat blueberries, spinach, and oranges because they’re “Superfoods” — does that make apples inferior? Not to me! But it is true that foods such as oats and whole grains have cholesterol-lowering effects due to their fiber content. It’s no surprise to me that there’s so much inconsistent information on “Superfoods” — many foods could easily be considered “super” based on their nutritional make-up. I’m off my soap box, sorry! I blame Dr. Oz for the hoop-la surrounding Superfoods! It is a hot topic right now!

Another confession: I hate quinoa. I’ve tried it…several times, and I am yet to find a palatable dish. I do however recommend barley, millet, wheat germ, spelt, and whole wheat! I have recently used barley in a Cheesy Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Barley Bake, almond flour in Banana Blueberry Muffins, lentils in a Lentil and Tomato Soup, old-fashioned oats in a Blueberry-Coconut Baked Oatmeal, brown rice in Broccoli Almond Chicken, oats and muesli in Museli Granola Bars, and whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour are wonderful substitutions for any all-purpose flour needs! Whole wheat pasta is also a great way to fiber-up any pasta delight!

Thank you, as always, for all of your WONDERFUL questions! I really appreciate your inquisitive minds! Feel free to send over any questions for the next Q&A!! 😀

And, I didn’t forget…THE WINNER of the Vitalicious Super Sampler is….

Andrea of Celery In The City!!

Send me your address and Vitalicious will be sending out your Super Sampler soon! Congrats!!!

Questions: Do you like mushrooms? What are some vegetables you’re not a fan of? I admitted my distaste for quinoa — what is one food others love and you just don’t enjoy at all?


Filed under antioxidants, blog topic request, cancer, cholesterol, chronic disease,, diet, exercise, fiber, fish oil/omega-3's, fruits and vegetables, Giveaway, healthy cooking, heart health, hypertension, Italy, memory, minerals, protein, recipe, sodium, Vita Tops/Muffins, vitamins, weight gain

I Am What I Cook Entry

The other day I was perusing the blogs I follow and was completely fascinating with a challenge Sophia of Burp and Slurp posed to her readers. Below is an excerpt from her post:

Question of the day: What does your name mean? Do you define your name? How do you define yourself right now?

And here’s a challenge for you: Cook a dish that defines you. It can be the person you dream to be, like I did. Let’s call it the “You Are What You Cook” Challenge. You can post it on your blog, and I might do a round-up of all your creations, linking to your recipe and posting your pictures. I think it’d be fun!

Nicole is my name and it means “Victory of the People”. Do I define my name? I think so! Of course, my initial thought goes straight to health and nutrition…not only because that is what I do as a dietitian, but it’s also what I AM. I am a woman who has lost weight in the past (and could stand to lose a few pounds in the present) and who wants to make a difference in the world — most specifically in fighting the diseases (diabetes!) resulting from our nation’s obesity epidemic. A reader just last week pointed out the fact that my LIFE is nutrition — work, home, blog, you name it!

Since beginning this blog, my skill in the kitchen has blossomed. I am becoming more creative and original in the things I make. Yet my ultimate goal will remain good taste + solid nutritional balance = SCOOOORE!

The theory of “if it tastes good, don’t eat it” doesn’t fly in my kitchen. I wish nothing more than to PROVE that that statement is nothing short of blasphemy!

In keeping with the challenge, “You Are What You Cook” I had several criteria I wanted to meet:

  • Appearance — I LOVE beautiful food that calls my name just from the looks of it!
  • Color — color = vitamins and minerals…I want lots of those!
  • Bold — What can I say? I love bold flavors and things that make my mouth dance!
  • Mexican-like — If you know me, you know Mexcian food and I go together like peas and carrots (Forest Gump reference…)
  • Balance — protein, carbohydrates, fat…you know, the works. Balance.
  • NUTRITIOUS — Duhhh. 😉

Final Product: Prevention Seafood Tacos with Black Beans and Guacamole

The whole shuuuh-bang

Prevention Seafood Tacos
serves 4

4 corn tortillas
*4 wild salmon fillets (approx. 3-4 ounces each), raw, thawed
*1/2 lb jumbo shrimp (pre-cooked), thawed
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 + 1 Tbsp cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 onion, sliced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 red cabbage head, chopped (garnish)

*Either salmon of shrimp can be used alone. Tofu would be a great substitution for either seafood selection and would marinade beautifully.


Combine honey, soy sauce, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add shrimp and salmon. Marinate salmon and shrimp for 20 minutes (or longer, if desired). Transfer salmon and marinade to a skillet. Cook salmon over medium heat until cooked on one side. Flip salmon and add shrimp. Simmer the seafood in the marinade until cooked through.

In a separate skillet, saute onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar until edges begin to brown.

Serve salmon and shrimp on corn tortilla topped with onion and red cabbage.

Discussion of dish: This taco is combining my favorite Mexican dish — tacos — with a bold, savory flare combining vinegar and onion with the crunch of cabbage. Nom nom nom!

Nutrition: Utilizes salmon which is high in omega-3 fatty acids versus high saturated fat steak. Topped with a sauteed onion and cabbage garnish versus high-fat sour cream and spicy salsa. A corn tortilla is lower in calories and fat than its flour counterpart…plus, it’s more authentic!

Prevention Black Beans with Papaya Salsa
serves 4

1 can lower-sodium black beans (no rinse!)
1 tomato, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 jalapeno, diced
2/3 cup papaya, diced
1/3 cup red onion, diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped


In a small pot soften the bell pepper over medium heat for several minutes. Add black beans, cumin, garlic, and jalapeno. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer another 2-3 minutes.

Combine papaya, red onion, and cilantro in a separate dish.

Plate the black beans and garnish with the papaya salsa.

Discussion of dish: A spicy-sweet combination. The flavor is good, especially with plenty of papaya salsa. The texture of the green pepper was a little off — I may omit that next time. Overall, it was an okay dish and pretty cost-effective.

Nutrition: High in fiber and loaded with color. Papaya is a somewhat scary-looking fruit great substitution for mango in something like a sweet salsa. These black beans are essentially fat-free and contain various vitamins and minerals (colors purple, green, orange were all used!).

Prevention’s Homemade Guacamole and Chips
serves 4

1 large avocado
1 Tbsp salsa
2 tsp plain 0% fat Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream
1 tsp olive oildash of garlic salt
dash of pepper
1/4 lime, juice only
6 corn tortillas
canola oil cooking spray
sea salt


Preheat broiler to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Cut tortillas into quarters like a pie. Arrange tortilla triangles in a single layer on the foil-lined baking sheet. Spray tortilla triangles with cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt. Broil 5-6 minutes or until they begin to brown.

In a small dish, combine avocado, salsa, yogurt/sour cream, olive oil, garlic salt, pepper, and lime juice until smooth. Serve with tortilla chips.

Discussion of dish: Delicious! An all-time favorite.

Nutrition: Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat (good fat) and a great source of vitamins and minerals. Olive oil is rich in good fats, as well. When served with saturated and trans fat-free tortilla chips, this is a great addition to any party or meal.


This was such a fun challenge and a great way to spend President’s Day! I hope some of you decide to take Sophia up on her challenge!

Question: Even if you don’t plan to enter into “I Am What I Cook” — what’s one initial thought on what you would create?

Random question: Do YOU know what YOUR name means?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter to win the Vitalicious Super Sampler Giveaway ($35.99 value!)! Ends Wednesday, don’t delay! 🙂


Filed under antioxidants, chronic disease, diabetes, dietitians, dinner, fiber, fish oil/omega-3's, fruits and vegetables, garlic, Giveaway, healthy cooking, holiday, minerals, MUFAs and PUFAs, obesity epidemic, recipe, trans fat, Uncategorized, vitamins, weight loss

Q&A and a CURE for Celiac disease???

Hope everyone had a wonderful Monday! Today’s Q&A day…enjoy!

Have a question you want answered? Send it my way for the next Q&A!! Thanks for all the WONDERFUL questions, you guys are super! 😀

Kate: Do you know anything about the way meat is processed now? I don’t eat much red meat, and I think my diet lacks protein in general. I eat a very low-carb dinner which lately has been an organic chicken sausage and a green vegetable of some sort. I need better ideas for protein…my husband won’t eat red meat at all and is pretty picky in general.. I really like sushi salmon but fish seems pretty limited during pregnancy so that’s out. I really try and buy organic chicken like the sausage but how do you really know? What else is safe?

Prevention RD: Hey, darlin’! 🙂 If meat processing is your concern, organic is the way to go. The term organic refers to the production standards by which food items are produced – no synthetic chemicals, pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides. Organic livestock are not injected with antibiotics of growth hormones. There are a lot of organic meats available – chicken, pork, turkey, beef, fish, and so on. Most recipes calling for red meat can be substituted with chicken or turkey such as tacos, chili, casseroles, sauces, etc. Pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces (about 2 meals a week) of low-mercury fish and seafood such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. However, raw and local fish should be avoided. Other sources of protein include tofu, eggs, peanuts, cheese, beans, dairy, and peanut butter. Most Americans consume adequate protein, so I don’t think this is of too much concern. I would, however, add a whole grain starch to your meals and focus lots on fruits and vegetables, adding in meat you find appealing.

Jenn of Eat Move Love: Do you ever find yourself needing a “break” from nutrition given that it’s your job, you write about it, research, etc.?? Or if you weren’t an RD – what would you be?!

Prevention RD: Yes! There are some days that I feel like screaming if I have to listen to another diet recall, but it comes back to doing something I love. Because I am SO deeply invested in nutrition, I do find that I focus less on myself and what I need. I count carbs and calories all day…it gets tiresome! Thus, I find it hard to commit the time to doing it for myself! I will say that sometimes I slack on reading other’s blogs because I need a little “vacation” from nutrition and health…you know, to go enjoy a TV show or a walk with my husband once in awhile 🙂 If I wasn’t an RD, I would be a nurse or a research scientist. I still may go back to school for nursing if life ever opens up that door for me! My “ultimate” goal, however, is to be a published writer or journalist! I am beginning to compile some ideas and material for a book on diabetes and diabetic recipes. Thanks for asking about me, that was sweet 🙂

Ashley of Food Fotos and Fun: I’m curious as to how bad you think it is to consume the “top contaminated fruits/veggies” and not eat organic.  I ask because I’m still eating at my college cafeteria which has very little organic produce.  From the top list, I have about two apples a day, at least a few potatoes a week, and spinach fairly often too (all of which are not organic).  Now obviously having such things every so often would be no problem at all, but do you think my higher consumption levels are of any concern?

Prevention RD: Firstly, rest assured that there are pesticide laws which are enforced by the FDA and EPA. These laws are designed to ensure that the produce making it into American homes is safe for consumption. However, this topic remains one of those gray areas for me. The aspartame in diet drinks is “safe” but does that mean we don’t need to limit our intake? Absolutely not. I think that investing in a produce wash and soak is the best bet if organic isn’t in the picture, and even then so! I posted a recipe for a produce wash here. Fully coat your produce in produce spray and manually rub the surface for 30 seconds or longer. As for leafy greens, soak them in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water and rinse thoroughly before serving. This is an effective and low-cost means of removing unwanted dirt, bacteria, pesticides, etc. If you take these steps to reduce pesticide ingestion, the benefits of higher consumption of the “top contaminated fruits/veggies” far outweighs elimination of them all together. I hope that helps some! Wonderful question!

Faith of An Edible Mosaic: I have a question about spinach, Nicole…I’ve heard that its nutrients are better absorbed if the spinach is heated first…is that true?

Prevention RD: While cooking any food doesn’t make it more nutritious, per se, there are certain foods that have more “advantages” when cooked. Spinach is one of them. The carotenoids, a form of vitamin A, found in spinach (as well as other dark-green leafy vegetables, red, yellow, and orange vegetables) are better absorbed when cooked. Another example: lutein – a phytonutrient in corn is best absorbed when cooked. Great question!

Aria: On Oprah, what about the apple cider vinegar comment?

Prevention RD: I am so glad you asked about this! I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that claim was made regarding blood sugars and apple cider vinegar. A few small studies have shown drops in blood glucose when apple cider vinegar is ingested. Things like cinnamon, magnesium, chromium, and other antioxidants have also suggested promising glucose lower effects. WebMD recognizes apple cider vinegar as “unproven treatment” and this should be no surprise as it is boasted as a weight-loss aid, lipid-lowering agent, and wart-removing topical…all in one! 😉

And in Celiac news….

Peptides responsible for the immune response to gluten were isolated and a vaccine has been composed. Phase one of the vaccine trial began in April 2009 on 40 participants. Phase one intends to indentify the safety of the vaccine. Assuming the vaccine is deemed safe, the next phase will involve treating Celiac sufferers and testing their response to gluten when ingested. If trials are successful, the vaccine could be available within the next 5-10 years [1].

[1]. Hall, Joanna. A Cure for Coeliac Disease, Hope for Millions of Sufferers. The Sunday Telegraph. February 7, 2010.

Random Question: On Valentine’s day would you rather receive roses or chocolate?


Filed under antioxidants, aspartame, blog topic request, blood glucose, chronic disease, diabetes, dietitians, Dr. Oz, food safety, fruits and vegetables, gluten-free, hormones, meat consumption, research study, soda, sugar substitutes