Category Archives: complimentary and alternative nutrition

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

Q&A: ginseng, hidden sodium, and raw milk

Quick update: Home inspection did NOT go well…at all (you can’t judge a book…or a home…by its cover!). Back to square one. Oh the joys of buying a home…I’ll keep you guys posted. Thanks tons for all of your support and well wishes on our big move. Despite the hurdles and big changes, I need to stay positive while we’re in transition!!

As for the job-hunt, I am trying to keep an open mind but I want to still keep my paws in diabetes…some how…some way. I am nearly 50% complete with my 1,000 diabetic education hours needed to sit for the exam and I am not giving up that easily on pursuing my CDE. Diabetes is my passion!

And on to a most excellent line-up of Q&A!

Jodie of Jodie Pilates: I would like to know your opinion on ginseng, specifically for energy. Are there any other supplements you can suggest for energy?

Prevention RD: Caffeine and ginseng are the two most natural stimulants that come to mind. I recently started taking ginseng for my blood glucose and have noticed no increase in energy*. However, ginseng is most commonly found in large doses in energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Monster and is most “famous” for its stimulant-effects. I feel both caffeine and ginseng can be a part of a healthy diet, but I think a good night’s sleep is the best energy boost of all! 😉 Note: If you do utilize ginseng or caffeine, do so earlier in the day to help avoid sleep disturbances.

*Ginseng is working beautifully in lowering my fasting blood glucose, however! My fasting blood sugars have gone from 95-103 mg/dl into a much preferred 83-90 mg/dl range. In less than a week, I am SO pleased with the results!

Liz in Dallas: My grandmother and my dad have both recently been put on low-salt diets. It is easy for them to deal with at home, since my grandmother and my mom cook all their own food and very rarely eat anything processed. The problem seems to be out at restaurants. Both of them eat out for lunch pretty much every day, and my grandmother also goes out to eat for dinner quite frequently. What should they be ordering to avoid sodium overload? Are there dishes that they should always avoid? What do you think are the most sneaky sources of sodium?

Prevention RD: Low-sodium “diets” are tough…really, really tough. Restaurants are notorious for using exorbitant amounts of salt. If it’s possible, your grandmother and dad could decrease the frequency of meals out, or dine at restaurants with published nutrition information (e.g. Chili’s, Applebees, Subway, etc.) so they are sure to make a salt-friendly meal selection. If meals out are a must, there is plenty to know, however! Anything breaded or fried is going to have more salt, so looking for key words on menus such as baked, broiled, steamed, and grilled can be helpful in reducing salt. Chips, fries, and other side dishes such as potato salad are also high in sodium, as are sauces, dressings, and other condiments. Because sodium is hidden in just about everything, the best thing to do at restaurants is to exercise portion control, especially since the portion sizes are generally rather large. When ordering food at a restaurant, they can ask the server to put dressings and sauces on the side so they can control how much they consume. And it’s always an option to take home half their meal and have a small snack before and/or after dining out. Sharing meals is another great option. Best of luck to them! Great question 🙂

Lena of LMC in the World: I read an article in a recent Economist magazine about the trend of raw milk. It was saying there are some nutritional benefits which are eliminated in the pasteurization process and some people are selling/buying raw milk. Had you heard of this trend? It also said the FDA has not identified any nutritional benefits and there are still a number of laws to restrict the sale of raw milk because it can be dangerous. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Prevention RD: What a great question! This is a HOT trend right now, you betcha! Raw milk and dairy simply not been pasteurized, as you stated. Unpasteurized dairy can contain harmful and potentially fatal bacteria including E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. The National Dairy Council, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others, endorse pasteurized milk and dairy. According to the National Dairy Council there is no scientific evidence to suggest that there is any nutritional benefit to raw milk and dairy of that which has been pasteurized. In fact, pasteurized milk is fortified with vitamin D, making is a more nutritionally desirable product over raw milk. And did you know that it is actually illegal to sell raw milk in some US states? Check out your local raw milk and dairy laws if you choose to consume raw dairy. While raw milk and dairy carries some risk of bacterial contamination, I think the larger issue is knowing where the products come from and the cleanliness of the site. I know there are many raw milk and dairy advocates out there, but I tend to side with the majority on this one. Would I try raw milk or dairy from a dairy I trusted? Probably. Is it recommended for the young, old, or uninsured? Probably not. 😉

I’ll leave you with a picture of my sleepy girl after her day at camp. She snored ALL night!

Question: What supplements do you take and why?

Happy half-way to Friday!


Filed under blog topic request, blood glucose, coffee, complimentary and alternative nutrition, condiments, diabetes, dietitians, dining out, enriched/fortified, farming, fast food, food safety, hypertension, minerals, raw food/rawism, restaurant, sleep, sodium, supplements, vitamins

Giving ginseng a go!

Late post today…I was busy sleeping in 🙂 Glooorious!

Last night we went over to our friend’s, Tiffany and Matt, home for dinner. Tiffany is a wonderful cook and Matt is a grill MASTER! We had a wonderful Cedar-Smoked Maple-Glazed Salmon served with farro. YUM!

I contributed a fruit salad:

Thanks Tiffany and Matt! 😀

Adding ginseng to the mix…

The 2 grams of Metformin I am taking daily to help lower my blood glucose (thanks to PCOS) doesn’t seem to be cutting it. My fasting numbers are yet to get out of the mid-to-upper 90’s and I want them in the 80’s! After doing some research and supplement hunting, I have decided to try Asian Ginseng to help lower my blood glucose.

There is a lot of research in support of ginseng use for glucose-lowering effects. And I’ve consulted text books from my undergraduate years, as well as a little gift from Celestial Seasonings

I almost wish I didn’t know as much as I do about blood glucose! When we got back from frozen custard last night, my blood glucose was 88. This morning fasting, it was 94. So frustrating! Meformin is designed to slow down hepatic glucose production meaning that it suppresses the amount of sugar the liver outputs, as well as make insulin in the body more sensitive to glucose. With my fasting glucose unchanged on a high dose of Metformin, I am utterly confused! I am very pleased with the way my body processes carbohydrates when I eat, however. A silver lining, if you will! My liver is just extra sweet, I guess! 😦

In order to help my fasting blood glucose, I’ve decided to give ginseng a try. I purchased these 2 supplements:

Note the GMP logo:

As well as ginseng drops:

There is a lot of varying opinion on ginseng dosing, so I am going to start with 1-2 grams a day. I plan to take the ginseng in the morning to help avoid any insomnia — a side effect of ginseng as it is known as an “energy” supplement. It’s also good for immunity!

Here goes nothing!

Lily wanted to say hi. I think the heat has increase her appetite…she layed like this all morning wanting more breakfast!

Question: What are you up to today? How’s the weather near you? 97º F and sunny in Tulsa! HOT HOT HOT!

Staying cool,


Filed under blood glucose, carb-controlled, carbohydrates, complimentary and alternative nutrition, diabetes, diet, dinner, dog, entertaining, fish oil/omega-3's, food safety, friends, fruits and vegetables, grilling, herbs, low-carb, PCOS, pets, research study, supplements

The Gila Monster

As I’ve battled with insulin resistance and the side effects experienced while taking the diabetic drug, Metformin, I’ve become increasingly interested in the other glucose lowering agents on the market (outside the ones I’m most familiar with in my clinic — Metformin, glyburide, glipizide, Actos, novolog, and Levemir). One drug in particular, Byetta, has piqued my interest.


Byetta helps the pancreas produce insulin more efficiently in type 2 diabetics. Byetta’s major drawback for consumers is the fact that it is an injectable. Most interestingly, Byetta is derived from the saliva of the gila monster. This poisonous lizard is native to desert regions of Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, California, Arizona, and Mexico. Byetta is FDA-approved and becomingly an increasingly popular glucose control agent in diabetics, for those willing to go the injectable route.

I find this amazing…anyone else? If an endocrinologist recommended I go on Byetta, I would do so. I’ve over-come the fear of giving myself an injection, so why not?

Question: Do you know of any “alternative” medicine treatments, drugs, or cures (i.e. cinnamon for blood sugar control or ginger for nausea)??

Heading back to Tulsa tonight! Busy, busy, busy!!

Amazed by science,


Filed under complimentary and alternative nutrition, diabetes, dietitians, prescription drug, supplements, travel, work

Email forward fallacies and olive oil for ulcers

I don’t send forwards. Never have, never will. I got a forward today about fruit, so I opened it as it was from my aunt who knows I’m a dietitian. I was nearly in tears I was laughing so hard. Check it out:
It’s long but very informative
We all think eating fruits means just buying fruits, cutting it and just popping it into our mouths. It’s not as easy as you think. It’s important to know how and when to eat.
What is the correct way of eating fruits?
If you eat fruit like that, it will play a major role to detoxify your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.
FRUIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FOOD. Let’s say you eat two slices of bread and then a slice of fruit. The slice of fruit is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it is prevented from doing so.
In the meantime the whole meal rots and ferments and turns to acid. The minute the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach and
digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil….
So please eat your fruits on an empty stomach or before your meals! You have heard people complaining – every time I eat watermelon I burp, when I eat durian my stomach bloats up, when I eat a banana I feel like running to the toilet etc – actually all this will not arise if you eat the fruit on an empty stomach. The fruit mixes with the putrefying other food and produces gas and hence you will bloat!
Graying hair, balding, nervous outburst, and dark circles under the eyes all these will NOT happen if you take fruits on an empty stomach.
There is no such thing as some fruits, like orange and lemon are acidic, because all fruits become alkaline in our body, according to Dr. Herbert Shelton who did research on this matter (is this even grammatically correct??).  If you have mastered the correct way of eating fruits, you have the Secret of beauty, longevity, health, energy, happiness and normal weight.
When you need to drink fruit juice – drink only fresh fruit juice, NOT from the cans. Don’t even drink juice that has been heated up.
 Don’t eat cooked fruits because you don’t get the nutrients at all. You only get to taste. Cooking destroys all the vitamins.
But eating a whole fruit is better than drinking the juice. If you should drink the juice, drink it mouthful by mouthful slowly, because you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it.
 You can go on a 3-day fruit fast to cleanse your body. Just eat fruits and drink fruit juice throughout the 3 days and you will be surprised when your friends tell you how radiant you look!
Drinking Cold water after a meal = Cancer! Can u believe this?? For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this ‘sludge’ reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.
A serious note about heart attacks HEART ATTACK PROCEDURE: (THIS IS NOT A JOKE!) Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line. You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms. Sixty percent of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not wake up. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let’s be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive…was this forward about cancer and fruit or heart attacks? I’m now confused…..
A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we’ll save at least one life.

Read this….It could save your life!!

*EYE ROLL* It SCARES me that there’s this kinda crud floating around! Much less, people are reading and believing it! Research health claims that you hear and ask your medical provider before falling for any fallacies out there!

On a completely unrelated note….

While I like to think I teach patients things, they also teach me things, too! Like this week, for example, a patient asked, “Is it true that olive oil helps prevent stomach ulcers?” After swallowing my pride just a bit, I responded with an, “I’m not sure, but I’ll get back to you!”

Ends up, olive oil DOES help to prevent stomach ulcers according to WedMD.

A Spanish study from 2007 suggested virgin olive oil may help prevent and treat H. pylori infections, a leading cause of gastritis and peptic ulcers. Lab testing revealed that the antioxidant compounds found in virgin olive oil are effective against several strains of H. pylori. Other natural products such as red wine, green tea, and cranberry juice are rich in a class of antioxidants known as phenolic compounds, which can inhibit the growth of H. pylori [1].

Phenolic compounds are found to have strong antibacterial properties. Lab results show olive oil’s phenolic compounds are effective against 8 strains of H. pylori, including 3 that are resistant to some antibiotic treatments [1]. Go virgin olive oil!

[1]. Warner, Jennifer. Olive Oil May Prevent Ulcers. WebMD. February 13, 2007.

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Filed under antioxidants, cancer, complimentary and alternative nutrition, fruits and vegetables, healthy cooking, Mediterranean diet, research study, work

Day 2 and more

I dropped Lily off at “Camp Bow Wow” this morning for her “interview” (we’re boarding her during our Thanksgiving trip to Chicago). Needless to say, she’s having a blast right now at camp. How do I know this? I’m WATCHING her online! Yep, that’s right! Camp Bow Wow has cameras installed in the facility so you can watch your dog play indoors, outdoors, sleep, eat, and more! Since she’s going to be one POOPED little puppy tonight, I’ve asked my husband to take me out on a date tonight! So, here’s my day so far…

1 cappuccino with sugar-free International Delight (0 carbs)
1 slice wheat toast (1 carb)
1/2 Tbsp Smart Balance Light (0 carbs)
1 egg, large (0 carbs)
1 Fiber One bar (2 carbs)
     Total: 3 carbs

1/4th Spinach Calzone from last night (3 1/2 carbs)
1/2 c. roasted vegetables: potatoes, carrots, and squash (1/2 carbs)
     Total: 4 carbs

1 large chocolate chip cookie (2 carbs)

Dinner and PM snack: TBD

While that afternoon cookie isn’t the best choice, my co-worker always stops for cookies from an Amish Bakery before our RD meetings each month. So, I know cookies will be there (and she always gets chocolate chip), I will want one, and I need to limit myself to ONE to not go over my carbs.

Anyways, Chicago finds out today whether or not the 2016 Olympics will be held there! I’m really hoping they are, but that’s easy to say as I don’t live there anymore and will have my parent’s home to crash at during the events if we decide to attend. Oh, and the taxes…I won’t be paying Illinois taxes 🙂 Either way, an exciting time for Chicago and the Olympics in Chicago supporters (there’s a lot against it, and their reasoning is justified). We shall see!

The Chicago Tribune put out an article yesterday stating that life expectancy is still rising in “rich” countries and that many babies born after 2000 may live to be 100 years old. Even more shocking is that this upward trend in life expectancy is not showing a plateau in sight [1]. How old was Moses when he died? 120? Kidding, kidding.

The article states, “While illnesses affecting the elderly like heart disease, cancer and diabetes are rising, advances in medical treatment are also making it possible for them to remain active for longer. The obesity epidemic, however, may complicate matters. Extra weight makes people more susceptible to diseases and may increase their risk of dying. In the U.S., data from 1982 to 2000 showed a major drop in illness and disability among the elderly, though that has now begun to reverse, probably linked to the rise in obesity [1].”

Moving on….ginger. Ginger is by far a favorite ingredient of mine. While nothing tops garlic in my heart, ginger MAY take the silver. For hundreds of years, ginger has been used to ease nausea. A number of studies have been assessed to find that ginger does cure nausea caused from sea-sickness, morning-sickness, and chemotherapy. While the mechanism of action is yet to be determined, the proposed active ingredient in ginger is 6-gingerol, which helps relax intestinal muscles. How much ginger to ease nausea? Studies suggest 0.5 grams to be effective and it’s available as powder in capsule form, as well as it’s natural root state. Simply shave off several slices of ginger to chew and swallow, or enjoy it blended in water or a smoothie [2]. 

And did anyone else hear that Coke is putting calories on all their products? Read more here. I have to say, however, it would be MOST useful to do one of two things with say, 20 ounce bottles of soda – 1) list the TOTAL calories and carbohydrates in the whole bottle (people won’t look at servings per container!) or 2) do away with anything other than 1-serving containers for individual sale (which won’t happen). Unfortunately, even consumers who are trying to follow labels and make better decisions are unclear on how to read nutrition labels. So many of my patients fail to realize that while there are 26 grams of carbohydrate in an 8-ounce serving of soda….there are 65 grams of carbohydrate in the 20-ounce bottles they drink!!! Without knowing how to read the labels, however, most go on thinking they’re consuming 26 grams, or “2 carbs”. As soon as I point out the math (i.e. “You’re drinking more carbohydrates than you’re supposed to eat in a MEAL”), that soda loses a lot of appeal. So, I do wish labeling were a bit more straight forward for consumers to utilize appropriately. Off soap box.

In reading a fellow RD’s blog this week, I found this YouTube view — a snipet from The View on an episode hosting Paula Dean and her new cook book for children and specifically, children’s lunches. Listen for Barbara Walters calling out Paula, it’s great!

I hope it’s as beautiful where ever you are as it is here today! TGIF and have a WONDERFUL weekend!

[1]. Cheng, Maria. Happy 100th Birthday! Most babies born since 2000 will hit 100, life expectancy still rising. Chicago Tribune. October 1, 2009.
[2]. O’Connor, Anahad. The Alternative Medicine Cabinet: Ginger. The New York Times. October 1, 2009.

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Filed under age, chronic disease, complimentary and alternative nutrition, obesity epidemic

Aloe Vera and Yukon Golds

I’ve heard two diabetes-related “rumors” recently, so I had to research into their origins and truthfulness.
The first rumor: a hypoglycemic effect of aloe vera in the treatment of diabetes mellitus.
An October 1999 study performed by the British Journal of General Practice disputed the use of aloe vera in the hyperglycemic. Four independent literature searches were conducted and controlled clinical trials in various languages were included. The results showed that “oral administration of aloe vera might be a useful adjunct for lowering blood glucose in diabetic patients as well as for reducing blood lipid levels in patients with hyperlipidemia.” While these results are intriguing the conclusions of the study stated that while the results yielded promising results, the clinical effectiveness of oral aloe vera is not sufficiently defined.
The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) recognizes the side effects and cautions of using aloe vera stating, “People with diabetes who use glucose-lowering medication should be cautious if also taking aloe by mouth because preliminary studies suggest aloe may lower blood glucose levels.” The NCCAM explains that the science of aloe does not support aloe vera for uses beyond laxative and burn and abrasion healing at this time [2].
Bottom line: False. While there is some science in support of the use of aloe vera in lowering blood glucose, it is not a recognized use at this time.
The second rumor: Yukon gold potatoes have less carbohydrate than other potatoes.
An average-sized potato is approximately 5.3 ounces (148 grams). A 5.3 ounce Russet potato is 25-26 grams of carbohydrate. A 5.3 ounce Yukon Gold potato has the same 25-26 grams of carbohydrate.
Bottom line: False. Yukon Gold potatoes are NOT lower in total carbohydrate.
[1]. Vogler, B. K., Ernst, E. Aloe vera: a systematic review of its clinical effectiveness. British Journal of General Practice. October 1999.
[2]. National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. Aloe Vera. Updated April 2008.


Filed under blood glucose, carbohydrates, complimentary and alternative nutrition, diabetes, fruits and vegetables, research study