Category Archives: convenience foods

baked falafel & 10 not-so-healthy “healthy” foods

Happy Friday! 😀

Yesterday’s trivia answer: Madagascar. Madagascar produces 2/3rd of the world’s vanilla. Thank you, Madagascar! And I am seriously impressed with everyone’s food trivia knowledge!!


The only thing that would’ve made last night’s dinner better would’ve been someone to enjoy it with! I’ve been wanting to try this recipe of Karla’s for quite a number of weeks now…and I knew that I’d have to do so when Mr. Prevention wasn’t around. He hears “garbanzo beans” and he loses interest. His loss. Seriously.

Baked Falafel adapted Foodologie and Epicurious

1 cup dried garbanzo beans
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp salt
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp flour (I used all-purpose flour)


Soak beans overnight in plenty of water.

The next day, put the garbanzo beans and onion in the food processor and pulse to roughly chop.  Next, add remaining ingredients and pulse until combine.  Refrigerate mixture for a few hours.

After the  mixture is chilled, pre-heat your oven to 375° F.  Form garbanzo bean mixture into 25 walnut sized balls.  Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to a 500° F broil. Broil falafel for 3-5 minutes (or longer) until the tops are golden brown. Serve with pita, cucumbers, tomato, and either hummus or a tahini yogurt sauce. Yield: Serves 5 (five falafel per serving).

Nutrition Information (per 5 falafel): 135 calories (27 calories per falafel); 1.6 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 567 mg. sodium; 27.4 g. carbohydrate; 5.4 g. fiber; 7 g. protein

Result: Soooo good! There are so many falafel lovers among my family and friends…I can’t wait to spoil them with this healthy falafel rendition. These really did FAR exceed my expectations, and I do consider myself somewhat of a falafel connoisseur after working in a Middle Eastern restaurant during high school. And as for the nutrition? A++!! Low calorie, low-fat, high-fiber! 😀 A much leaner choice compared to the deep-fried traditional preparation.


10 Not-so-Healthy “Healthy” Foods from Cooking Light

1. Multi-grain and wheat breads. Ideally, breads are from whole grain and 100% whole grain sources, not enriched, bleached, or from a refined source.

2. Prepared salads. Tuna, egg, and chicken salad are loaded with calorie-dense mayonnaise. Even tossed salads which have lots of yummy, tantalizing ingredients atop a pile of greens can yield one very high calorie meal. Be careful not to assume salads are always the healthiest choice on a menu.

3. Reduced-fat peanut butter. Peanut butter contains healthy monounsaturated fat. When fat is removed from products, like peanut butter (and salad dressings), sugar is substituted in. Furthermore, there is no calorie difference between regular and reduced-fat peanut butter.

4. Energy bars. Many energy bars are packed with calories, high fructose corn syrup, and saturated fat. There are much healthier (and cheaper) alternatives for pre and post-workout fuels.

5. Bran muffins. Bottom line: portions of such baked goodies are way, way too big. I agree with Cooking Light, make your own muffins at home! Cut calories and cost for your breakfasts on-the-go! Need muffin recipe ideas? There’s tons on my recipes page under “Breakfast”!

6. Smoothies. Many chains add sugar, sherbet, or ice cream to smoothies to get that oh-so-wonderful taste leading you back for more time after time. Smoothies are simple to make in the home with fresh or frozen fruit, low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt, and/or 100% juice or calorie-free beverage.

7. Packaged turkey. While packaged turkey offers and easy, low-cal meal option it is loaded with sodium.

8. Foods labeled “fat-free”. Fat-free does not mean calorie-free. Always read labels to get the whole scoop on a product.

9. Restaurant baked potatoes. The potato isn’t the problem, but the heaping scoops of butter, sour cream, bacon, and cheese sure are! Ask for toppings on the side and watch the portions.

10. Sports drinks. These drinks are designed for intense exercise and training, not your weekend stroll or casual jog. Using them inappropriately simply packs on the calories (and cost) unnecessarily.

I really enjoyed this article. While I think a few of them were obvious, the information was factual and valuable.

Question: What are you up to this weekend?

More chili is in our future…entry #3, bring it! And I’m cutting Mr. P off from his buffalo chicken dip…but not completely! I have a new buffalo chicken appetizer I want to swoon him with!! Stay tuned! Have a super weekend! 😀




Filed under carb-controlled, convenience foods, Cooking Light, diet, dining out, dinner, enriched/fortified, fiber, Flexitarian Diet, fried food, fruits and vegetables, garlic, guilt-free, healthy cooking, heart health, herbs, high-fructose corn syrup, MUFAs and PUFAs, protein, recipe, restaurant, salad, saturated fat, snack, sodium, weight loss


I think I have my first case of blog block. Shocking. I never stop talking or thinking…

My nutrition presentation at the technical college went BRILLIANTLY (said in a Jamie Oliver accent). The kids were really receptive and respectful. They also had some great questions! I was shocked how much they already know about nutrition, so I stepped up my game and added in a lot of fun science and health-related information versus the food and food chemistry approach that I took. Really fun opportunity!!

So without further ado, I’ll just answer the questions I received this week! Thanks for sending them in, everyone! 😀


Abri of Absolutely Ridiculous: I see all these recipes and want to make pretty much every single one of them. Right now husband and I are staying with my parents so we aren’t cooking at all… but I see all these ingredients that I don’t ever remember seeing at the store. Do you go to special organic places, or can most of these be found at normal grocery stores? I haven’t ever looked for them so it may be a dumb question… Thanks!!!

Prevention RD: I am married to the cheapest man alive, so I do most of my shopping at WalMart. I do shop at Whole Foods some, and that is typically for my meat and grains. Some things I’ve started using in recipes (farro, whole wheat pastry flour, medjool dates, etc.) are only found at Whole Foods, so I get what I must there. I also try and stick to organic meats, and that’s where I get those, as well. Well over 90% of my shopping is done at WalMart, though…and they typically have a great selection, especially in the ethnic foods sections! For the 2 of us, we typically spend $90-120 a week on groceries and eat out 1-2 times a week. Great question!

John of Challenges 2010: How much variety is required/suggested in a person’s diet? I’m thinking in regards to getting all the nutrients,minerals,vitamins,etc. Why do I ask? One of the keys to not only my weight loss but others is having the same thing for breakfast and/or lunch everyday. I found though for the past month  or two I’ve been having basically the same thing for almost my meals…..3 out of my 4 meals each day at least. My meal of choice? Smoothies. They’re fast,easy and only require cleaning a glass and blender. My 2 main smoothie ingredient lists look like this: 1/2c yogurt, 1/3c oatmeal(uncooked), 1scoop Whey protein, 1c frozen strawberries, 2c broccoli or 1/2c yogurt, 1/3c oatmeal, 1sc Whey Protein, 1 banana, 1 tbsp natural Peanut Butter

Prevention RD: I don’t think this is a nutritional concern as much as a concern of your sanity and long-term success. I agree that making a smoothie is super easy, but it’s not feasible to drink 3 smoothies a day til forever in order to stay healthy (…or is it?). I think it’s really, really, really important to have fundamental cooking skills and to be able to utilize them on a regular basis. I say the same thing to someone losing weight eating only Smart Ones, Lean Cuisines, or Healthy Choice meals. *yawn* It’s important to be excited about what you’re eating! As for health, I do think it’s important to get in more variety, even though you’re getting balanced macronutrients in your smoothies. If the body knows what to expect, it will plateau much more easily than if you’re continuously changing up your intake and exercise routine. But hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if you’re happy, that’s great! If things ever stall out on ya, I think you’ve got a good route to explore…your kitchen! 😉

Courtney of Knit, Run, Repeat: Ok so here’s a question….Protein Powder. What should one look for or avoid? Generally I use it in smoothies…I put a cup(ish) of frozen strawberries and a cup or two of Trop50 OJ in the blender…then 1 scoop of Jillian Michael’s protein powder. Hers is like 100cal and…20? g protein. Maybe 12. I don’t know…but I blend that and have it post-workout or for breakfast. So…pros/cons of protein powder? I don’t eat a lot of meat…so it’s an easy way for me to get protein in with my breakfast. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the powder and also what to look for in a powder! I’ve heard some are better than others but…I don’t know how to figure it out!

Prevention RD: I think your use of protein powder is alright. I typically discourage protein shakes as meal replacements simply because they are not as satisfying physically or psychologically for most people (depends on the person, however). But as a fueling snack, I’m all for it, especially if meat is not a huge component of your diet. To be honest, I’ve never checked out Jillian’s protein powder, but I’m going to *assume* it checks out. She’s about that last person who would want to be under fire for bad supplements! My only caution is that supplements are NOT FDA regulated. I recommend Abbott Nutrition’s EAS Whey protein to my patients, simply because it is 1) cheap, 2) produced by a medical supply and nutrition company, and 3) is third-party tested. I’m not huge on supplements, but this is the one I personally use and recommend. Always go with a whey over a soy source of protein when it comes to supplements. I hope this helps, great question!

Jodie of Jodie Pilates: What is the best “diet” for healthy shiney hair? Do you recommend any supplements, fish oil, etc?

Prevention RD: Because “shiny” is relative, this answer is based on what I know about food and what I’ve personally tried for shiny hair. Foods that are recognized as helpful for a shine include proteins (including eggs and high-fat meats such as bacon), as well as healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, etc. Fish oil and omega 3’s from either food sources (i.e. salmon) or supplement (3,000 milligrams a day) are also correlated with a shiny mane. Fun question, hope this helps!

Molly of Oats, Coffee, Love: What is your favorite dessert? And, if you could be on a cooking show which Food Network Star would you be most like?

Prevention RD: The first one is easy. My favorite dessert is toffee…the really buttery kind with chocolate and crushed nuts on top. Drool. The second question is tougher, but I am a huge Melissa fan. I think she’s the cutest little thing, and very easy to relate to. I also think her “down home” recipes are very well-liked by families and cooks in the home.

Question: What’s in your typical smoothie? What protein powder, if any, do you use?

Happy Halfway to Friday!


Filed under blog, blog topic request, breakfast, budget shopping, convenience foods, diet, exercise, fish oil/omega-3's, fruits and vegetables, Green Monster, grocery store, healthy cooking, meat consumption, MUFAs and PUFAs, physical activity, protein, snack, supplements, weight loss, work

Oh, the irony! …and a Q&A

John asked a question last week on my Q&A regarding Arborio rice and it’s nutritional benefits. Or lack thereof. Oops. You know, like a kid told not to touch an open flame, I went and made an Arborio recipe (because 24 1/2 years was too long to go without this treat). But I blame Kerstin for this…her recipes are all too enticing! Behold:

Gruyere Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms adapted from Cake, Batter, and Bowl

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups 1 large bunch asparagus, chopped
2 cups mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter Smart Balance Light
1 yellow onion, 3 small shallots, chopped (I didn’t have an onion! The shallots were awesome!)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice, dry
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (approx. 7 ounces)
2 tablespoons 1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from one lemon)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan and sauté asparagus and mushrooms until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium high heat in a large stockpot. Sauté the onion for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender; add garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the rice and stir until well-coated and translucent. Reduce heat to medium and stir in 1 cup of chicken stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the stock has been absorbed; add another cup and continue in this way until all the chicken stock has been absorbed, for about 30 minutes. Stir in gruyere cheese, lemon juice, and salt and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Stir in asparagus and mushrooms. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Makes 5 servings.

Nutrition Information (1/5th of recipe): 382 calories, 18 g. fat, 40 mg. cholesterol; 610 mg. sodium; 33 g. carbohydrate; 1.4 g. fiber, 19.2 g. protein per serving

Ok, sure…not the best stats, but this recipe is a W-O-W recipe! You know, the kind you make for a special someone you’re trying to impress…or when your in-laws come to town (my in-laws read my blog AND they’re amazing, so this doesn’t apply to me, of course!). At least it has vegetables!? But yeah, Gruyere doesn’t come in a low-fat version to my knowledge 😉 But MAN, it is GOOD! My husband was so sweet to me tonight. I got a, “Thanks for making dinner, babe! It tastes really Italian.”

::blink blink:: Thumbs upppppppppp!

And on to the brief (but good!) Q&A for the week…

…Or possible known as the once-a-week, really long, exhaustively detailed posts!

Biz of Biggest Diabetic Loser: If I know I am going to have a hard workout, I tend to give myself a bit less insulin at breakfast so my blood sugar doesn’t crash and burn. Take today for instance – I was 180 before working out, and when I got back it was a perfect 102.  I then took the right amount of insulin for my lunch. Do you think having that “temporary” high will hurt me in the long run? My blood sugar numbers on average for 30 days are between 116 and 125.

Prevention RD: For those of you who don’t know Biz, she is a type 1 diabetic and author of the wonderful blog, Biggest Diabetic Loser. I feel comfortable answering this because I know your HbA1c is just below 7.0% — my answer would vary for someone with a higher HbA1c. I think that if this is working for you, you’re fine to continue with this regimen (especially if you’re on an insulin pump, which I’m not sure if you are or not…). The one option you have is to take a ligher dose of insulin with breakfast – bolus for maybe half the carbs you consume with whatever carb:insulin ratio you use and exercise with a G2/water or water/juice mix and drink that throughout your workout. This would have you starting your workout closer to a 120-140 mg/dl reading (I wouldn’t recommend below 120 to start in case you don’t intake enough and risk bottoming out) and fueling your blood glucose as the exercise works to decrease the glucose, hypothetically keeping you right in the 100-130 range throughout the duration of your exercise. If you decide to take this approach, I would certainly have your monitor nearby and come prepared – glucose tabs, honey or whatever agent you use in emergency hypoglycemic instances. I do feel there could be some benefit in your HbA1c if you’re able to prevention missing any insulin doses in light of working out. It may take some trial and error to work out any kinks, but it can be done! The key with type 1 diabetes and exercise is consistency. I say it all the time – diabetics know their bodies better than ANYONE else…even the best of doctors and endocrinologists out there. I hope this makes sense and keep me posted – I want to know what you decide to try out, if anything! Awesome make-Nicole-think question! P.S. I ran this past both our Diabetes Nurse and one of the doctors on staff today, and they agreed! 🙂

Molly: I’ve been meaning to ask this question for quite some time.  I’d say I live a healthy life style; working out regularly and watching what I eat.  I try to eat  as balanced of a diet as I can, getting the right amount of good fats, proteins and carbohydrates.  But one thing that will ALWAYS be hard for me to control is my love for salt.  I definitely love salty over sweet and almost always salt my food (even if it doesn’t need it).  What I try and do to compensate for my love of salt is drink A LOT of water…I mean a lot.  I feel as though this will some how help or “reverse” the effects.  Is it crazy for me to think that or is there actually some logic behind it?

Prevention RD: Hey Molly! Good question! I have to put in my plug on the importance of a low-sodium diet. Salt is a hard habit to kick, so don’t wait until you’re any more set in your ways to change! The majority of the salt we ingest is present in our food through the processing it undergoes, so any additional salt to our diet is likely too much. Excessive salt intake can cause serious electrolyte imbalances, water retention, and hypertension – also known as “the silent killer”. Having high blood pressure puts undue strain on every vessel in our bodies and over time, this can cause serious internal damage and lead to strokes and cardiovascular disease. While I am catastrophizing (not a word…) some, it is a serious matter. Make sure you get your blood pressure checked regularly and exercise is definitely a huge help! How much water are you drinking? Large loads of sodium can off-set the sodium balance of the body and thirst does increase when this balance is off. If your high water intake is habitual that sounds fine, but if your thirst seems excessive, this could indicate a sodium in balance in the body. If this is the case, I would look to decrease your salt usage even more so. Another thing to consider is increasing your intake of potassium; potassium and sodium work together in the body to carry impulses through the body which are vital for proper health. Using less processed foods and cooking from scratch can help lower the salt in your diet without changing the content too much. But as far as water actually flushing out all the sodium, this isn’t really the case. Water can help ease the effects of bloating, but it doesn’t reverse salt intake. Sorry! Great question!!

Anonymous: I’ve read a lot about agave nectar being just as bad as sugar – is this true?

Prevention RD: I’m sure you’ve seen this claim a lot – it’s all over right now! Agave is the natural sweetener that comes from the same Mexican plant used to make tequila! Agave has similar calorie and carbohydrate content to sugar, however agave is three times sweeter and thus requires less to achieve the same sweetness. Agave can be up to 90% fructose – the natural sugar found in fruits which has a lower glycemic index than sugar itself. While agave nectar is a tasty, all-natural sweetener, it is still a high-calorie sweetener that should be used in moderation. Until we find a 100% all-natural, organic, calorie-free, perfectly safe sweetener, we will be able to find a problem with any other sweetener for one reason or another! People hear that something is “good” or “healthy” and they take that to mean more is better, and that’s just not the case. Really great question!

Alison of Waisting Duxie: I am trying to conceive. Can I get too much folic acid? Most supplements are 800 mcg, the supplement that I am taking to lengthen my luteal phase (gotta love pre-menopausal in my mid 30s) has 200 mg and I’m supposed to take it 3 times a day, BUT I often forget.  Is it better to take the 800 one in the morning when I know I won’t forget and then maybe get 400 more over the day? How much does a typical diet high in dark leafy green veggies add and ultimately is this one of those vitamins you can overdo.

Prevention RD: The “tolerable upper limit” for folate is 1000 micrograms a day, though risk for toxicity is low. Because so many foods in the US food supply are fortified and enriched, most Americans meet the 400 mcg recommended daily value. What I am unable to locate is any folic acid recommendations to lengthening of your luteal phase. Best as I can tell and rationalize, you shouldn’t need additional folic acid and 800 mcg’s should be more than sufficient. I would not recommend taking over 1,000 mcg’s a day as this exceeds the upper limit. Check with your doctor regarding the 3 doses a day. Other than better chances of absorption, I don’t know of any other rationale for the frequent dosing, but I’m not a MD! I hope this helps – really interesting question! And congrats to you in starting a family! 😀

Happppppppppy Hump Day! Half way there, folks!

Question #1: What vitamins, minerals, or other supplements do you take?

Question #2: What’s your take on agave nectar? Like? Dislike? Healthy? Not-so-healthy?


Filed under artificial sweeteners, blog topic request, blood glucose, butter, carbohydrates, convenience foods, diabetes, diet, dietitians, dinner, doctors, enriched/fortified, entertaining, exercise, fruits and vegetables, garlic, glycemic index, hormones, minerals, physical activity, physicians, prescription drug, recipe, saturated fat, sodium, sugar substitutes, supplements, water, work

Soap boxin’ and kale chip rave!

If you are yet to see or read Food, Inc. I strongly suggest you get a move on! Husband and I watched Food, Inc. tonight and I really enjoyed it…in a wow-our-food-supply-is-scary-and-sucks kinda way.

Did you know…

  • …tomatoes are picked when green and ripened with ethylene gas?
  • …most meals consumed in the US travel 1500 miles from their origin to be consumed?
  • …it takes approximately 39 days to raise a hormone-injected chicken versus the approximated 90 days it takes to raise an organic chicken for slaughter?
  • …some fish are being fed grain to increase mass more “efficiently”?
  • …WalMart’s “Great Value” milk is free of rBGH?
  • …1 in 2 minorities born after 2000 are expected to develop type 2 diabetes?

Things I loved about the movie…

People and Interviews

This farmer interviewed fabulously. He showed how to gut a chicken (…is that a correct term?) and the practices on his farm where he raises chickens, hogs, and cattle. I do, however, wish that he was wearing gloves during the process!

My husband strongly identified with this family — a family of 4 on a very tight budget. The father has diabetes and his 2 oral medications run nearly $200 a month. After prescriptions are purchased, along with their busy schedules, $1 menu items are a way of life. A viscous cycle of chronic disease and low economic status, if you will.

Nutrition Information

Food, Inc. did a good job of pointing out major food products containing GMO’s — mayonnaise, Reeses Pieces, etc…

This leads me to my 2 major “critiques” of the film (as if they’d ask a dietitian’s opinion!) 😉

::stepping on soapbox::

1. Health impact. The film did a great job of covering the farming and agricultural side of the story, however, that’s not tangible to most consumers. What is meaningful enough to “hit home” to consumers, forcing a desired change, is the cost of chronic disease secondary to poor food selection/availability. Perfect example is the above scenario with the diabetic gentleman, whose medications are running the family over $2k annually. How much can one save by PRESERVING health and PREVENTING chronic disease, taking into account work absenteeism, performance ratings, hospital and health provider visits, prescriptions, equipment (c-pap machines for sleep apnea, glucometers for diabetes, etc.), and so on? Until the emphasis in health care switches from reactive to proactive, we won’t get ahead. This, in my opinion, would have been an IDEAL media to disperse such and important and valuable message.

::stepping off soapbox::

2. Labels. It was shocking to ME how many foods contain GMO’s. Why did Food, Inc. not allot a few minutes to discuss label-reading and the vast INCLUSION of these suckers in our foods?

This is a list of foods that likely contain GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), unless otherwise specified on the label (labeled non-GMO or organic):

Aspartame, baking soda, baking powder, canola oil (rapeseed oil), caramel color, cellulose, citric acid, cobalamin (Vitamin B12), colorose, condensed milk, confectioners sugar, corn flour, corn gluten, corn masa, corn meal, corn oil, corn sugar, corn syrup, cornmeal, cornstarch, cottonseed oil, cyclodextrin, cystein, dextrin, dextrose, diacetyl, diglyceride, Equal, food starch, fructose (any form), glucose, glutamate, glutamic acid, gluten, glycerides, glycerin, glycerol, glycerol monooleate, glycine, hemicellulose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, inositol, inverse syrup, inversol, invert sugar, isoflavones, lactic acid, lecithin, leucine, lysine, malitol, malt, malt syrup, malt extract, maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol, methylcellulose, milk powder, milo starch, modified food starch, modified starch, mono and diglycerides, monosodium glutamate (MSG), Nutrasweet, oleic acid, Phenylalanine, phytic acid, protein isolate, shoyu, sorbitol, soy flour, soy isolates, soy lecithin, soy milk, soy oil, soy protein, soy protein isolate, soy sauce, starch, stearic acid, sugar (unless specified as cane sugar), tamari, tempeh, teriyaki marinades, textured vegetable protein, threonine, tocopherols (vitamin E), tofu, trehalose, triglyceride, vegetable fat, vegetable oil, vitamin B12, vitamin E, whey, whey powder, xanthan gum, and Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) unless made outside the US.

….so basically, everything. 😦 Eating “cleanly” basically means 100% organic and 100% homemade. I am printing this list off and carrying it in my purse for shopping. While I can point out most of these additives, some of these were news to me. Sadly.

I’ve read a lot of reviews from consumers across the nation claiming they’re going meat-free after watching Food, Inc. Not me, because I can DO something to protect my body against growth hormones, rBGH, E. coli, etc. I told husband tonight that I do wish to purchase organic meat and eggs and to make an ardent effort to support our local ranchers and farmers.

What  can YOU do to make a difference?

  1. COOK! Seems basic, but we don’t do enough cooking. Making meals  eliminates the excess sodium and trans fat from commercially-prepared meals, and they tend to be lower in calories and fat. Plus, home-cooked meals are, 9 times out of 10, cheaper when shopped for and prepared wisely
  2. Buy organic when you can — look for labels stating “USDA Organic” or “100% organic”
  3. Support your local farmers and ranchers by buying local meat, eggs, and produce when possible. Go here to find local, sustainably grown foods near YOU!
  4. Scope out your community for farmer’s markets and attend each week. To find market near YOU, go here!
  5. Buy produce in-season and always wash your fruits and vegetables to remove any dirt, organisms, or pesticides

On a WAY less serious note, kale chips ROCK!

kale chips

I admit to being slightly apprehensive about these blogger-beloved kale chips (kale and I have a disagreement in palatable texture). These babies are DELICIOUS, however. And, once again, a thumbs up from the hubby! 😉

Kale Chips a la Nicole

fresh kale
canola oil spray
seasoning salt (such as Adobo)
Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast*


Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut kale into bite-sized pieces. Line a cooking sheet with tin foil and arrange kale chips in a single layer on the foil. Spray lightly with canola oil. Lightly sprinkle with seasoning salt and Parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Enjoy!

* Jessica suggested nutritional yeast in place of Parmesan cheese — trying this next time!


  1. If you made one change surrounding our food supply, in reference to Food, Inc., what change would you make?
  2. Has anyone tried kale chips and NOT liked them?

Have a wonderful Saturday, everyone! 🙂 Thanks for reading!


Filed under book, budget shopping, chronic disease, convenience foods, diabetes, diet, dining out, farming, food safety, fruits and vegetables, going "green", grocery store, high-fructose corn syrup, hormones, meat consumption, movie, MSG, nutritional yeast, recipe, sodium, sugar substitutes, trans fat, Uncategorized, US health care

The Drive -Thru Diet

If you haven’t been living under a rock these past few weeks, you’ve heard of Taco Bell’s Drive-Thru Diet. Christine Dougherty lost 54 pounds on the “Drive-Thru Diet” –consuming Taco Bell Fresco menu items. I’ve received several inquires as to the safety and feasibility of this “diet” from patients, friends, and co-workers alike. Even my itty bitty friend in Cincinnati sent me a Facebook message last night suggesting the Drive-Thru Diet as a topic of blog discussion (thank you, Mar!) :). So, here we are!

What we don’t know are the details of Christine’s intake. How many times a day was she eating Taco Bell’s Fresco items? How many at a time? What was she consuming “sensibly” outside of the Fresco items? What we do know (supposedly), is that Christine “lost 54 pounds,” “reduced her intake by 500 calories a day,” and “consumed 1250 calories a day”.

Drive-Thru Diet Flaws:

1. Calorie consumption. Assuming Christine weighed approximately 180 pounds to start (a safe assumption with a 54-pound weight loss), a basal energy calculation would calculate Christine’s energy needs to be 1540-1689 calories a day. Assuming Christine performs “seated work with little movement and little or no leisure activity” her requirements would increase to 2156-2377 calories a day. Subtracting 500 calories a day to produce a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week (1 pound ~ 3,500 calories), Christine’s needs would equate to 1656-1877 calories a day, leading me to the belief that 1250 calories per day is inadequate for Christine. This information, again, is based off a starting weight of ~180 pounds, assumes no physical activity, and was calculated using the FAO/WHO BEE equation with an activity factor of 1.4, suggested by the Manual of Clinical Dietetics put out by the American Dietetic Association.

2. Sodium. The sodium content in a single Fresco item ranges from 600 milligrams to 1410 milligrams. A recommended intake for adults without chronic health conditions such as hypertension, suggests 2,300 milligrams a day.

3. Fiber. One item on the Fresco menu contains 11 grams of fiber (!), but the remaining options contain a mere 2-8 grams. Most of the Fresco menu items contain a meager 2-3 grams of fiber.

4. Vitamins and minerals. A variety of fruits and vegetables is required to intake adequate vitamins and minerals each day. Lettuce and tomatoes every day isn’t what I would call variety, you?

5. Feasibility. Is eating off the Taco Bell Fresco menu a time or two each day any way to live? Cheap and maybe convenient, sure, but don’t we all enjoy some variety in our diets? As much as I love both tacos and burritos, I need not eat one, or the other, or both EVERY day to lose OR maintain weight. PASS!

6. Gimmick. Some of the Fresco menu items are a nearly insignificant 50 calories less than their standard menu counterparts. If you replace the cheese on a Taco Bell taco with salsa*, you get a Taco Bell Fresco taco. SURPRISE! (*this is what they do)

7. Preying on the weak. If you go to the Drive-Thru Diet website, you can’t miss this statement, “Drive-Thru-Diet® is not a weight-loss program. For a healthier lifestyle, pay attention to total calorie and fat intake and regular exercise. Taco Bell’s Fresco Menu can help with calorie reductions of 20 to 100 per item compared to corresponding products on our regular menu. Not a low calorie food. For complete nutritional information please visit” Even Taco Bells knows what it takes to lose weight, and it’s not Taco Bell.

Words of wisdom: Bite it, write it. Eat less, move more. Limit preservatives and eat cleaner, less processed foods. Include variety with a diet high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Consume healthy fats such as those found in nuts, oils, and seeds.

When I first heard a commercial for the Drive-Thru Diet, I laughed….nearly uncontrollably. While I wish nothing more than for anyone and everyone to reach their health, nutrition, and fitness goals, I strongly discourage the Drive-Thru Diet as a means of reaching your goals. In opposition to the Drive-Thru site, I do not encourage anyone to make “Frescoluctions” (laaaaaame).

Questions: What do you think is the biggest flaw in the Drive-Thru Diet? Do you think the popularity of the Fresco menu will increase? And, I shudder to ask, but do you know anyone attempting to lose weight on Taco Bell’s Drive-Thru Diet?


Filed under blog topic request, convenience foods, diet, dining out, fast food, fiber, fruits and vegetables, minerals, obesity epidemic, restaurant, sodium, vitamins, weight loss

Just another day in paradise…

I had an insanely productive morning this morning. In addition to the usual morning routine (dog duty, cappuccino-making, getting ready for work, and lunch-making), I also managed to unload the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, and get dinner in the crock pot. In the midst of my cleaning frenzy, I found husband’s wedding band. He was already at work. Sans his wedding band, obviously. This happens ALL the time.
See photo below. THIS is what I put on a scrap piece of paper on my way out the door: directions for him to start the crock pot at noon…and to put on his #$*& wedding band. Mennnn….
…at least he was wearing it when I got home from work today? :-/
Last night we had a favorite “convenience” dinner. I’m not really into convenience foods, but I must say…Zatarains does Jambabaya right. The calories are low (130!)…but the sodium is a bit high (540 mg)…could be worse. There’s only 1 gram of fat per serving, which is also great. I just wish it came in a whole grain, low-sodium version…then, it’d be perfect!
Anyways, I add to the mix a whole chopped onion, minced garlic, 1 can of low-sodium diced tomatoes, Tabasco sauce, and either shrimp, chicken, or turkey sausage. Last night, we opted for turkey sausage.
Boot camp tonight went…well. I will DEFINITELY be sore tomorrow.
Tonight we focused on triceps with lunges and squats thrown in there. Cardio, too…running, stairs, etc. I’m really enjoying it, though…and I love that the routine is different every night!
Yesterday, my teams won both our games (THAT’S rare – woot!)…AND I scored a goal! That’s probably even MORE rare ; )
A HUGE THANKS to Kay’s Naturals who sent me a wonderful array of products to sample and review today. Kay’s Naturals carries gluten-free cereals, crackers, chips, and snack foods. Kay’s products cater to the gluten-sensitive population, as well as diabetes and bariatric patients.
Today I tried the Lemon Herb Protein Chips and they were DELICIOUS! I ate them on my way home from work, before boot camp. There is an abundance of flavor and crunch, I highly recommend them, especially if you enjoy a lemony taste…mmmm!
Gluten allergies are becoming more and more common it seems. Similarly, the number of gluten-free products on the market is continually growing — some being MUCH better than others. Most larger retailers offer gluten-free cereals, crackers, breakfast bars, pastas, and chips. Thank you, Kay’s Naturals for supplying such wonderful tasting, gluten-free products! I look forward to sampling and reviewing more varieties!

Question 1: Do you know anyone personally with Celiac’s disease or a gluten sensitivity?

Question 2: Going back to my husband-who-forgets-his-wedding-band-all-the-time rant…what does YOUR significant other do that drives you absolutely insane?
Question 3: I’m traveling next week and looking for book suggestions…have you read any page-turners lately? Do share!

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Filed under convenience foods, diabetes, exercise, garlic, gluten-free, grocery store, hockey, Kay's Naturals, sodium, travel

Food Stamps for Pounds!

A 14-year nationwide study shows the U.S. Food Stamp Program may help contribute to obesity among its users. The average BMI of a Food Stamp participant was found to be 1.15 points higher than nonusers. Specifically, women’s BMI rose with food stamp usage, while men’s did not [1].

People’s BMI’s increased faster when they were on food stamps than when they were not, and also increased the longer they participated in the Food Stamp Program. While the Food Stamp Program is intended to increase food security and combat hunger, there may be unintended consequences, such as obesity [1].

Based on these findings alone, the Food Stamp Program may have a significant impact on America’s obesity rate with nearly 1 in 11 U.S. residents receiving food stamps in 2008. Because poverty and obesity are linked, the study accounded for income and a variety of other factors, including race and education [1].

Is this trend worsening? Yes. While Food Stamp Program participant BMI’s have increased in the past, the rate is increasing. The average food stamp user’s BMI rose 0.4 points per year on food stamps, compared with 0.07 points the year before they were receiving food stamps and 0.2 points the year after they no longer received food stamps [1].

While 2002 was the last year included in the study, participants were then receiving a mere $81 in food stamps per month. The study co-author of the study, Jay Zagorsky states, “I think it would be very difficult for a shopper to regularily buy healthy, nutritious food on that budget…Modifying the Food Stamp Program to include economic incentives to eat healthier might be an important tool for fighting obesity.” It is true that calorie-dense, high-fat, processed foods tent to be less expensive and the least healthy of the available options out there [1].

So, the Food Stamp Program needs some tweeks. Maybe they should consult with WIC which recently removed juice (yes, even 100% juice) from their program. Just like with soda, juice is now being linked to excess weight gain among American’s, and specifically among children.

Any thoughts on ways to better the Food Stamp Program? Should certain foods be excluded from the program due to their nutritional content…or lack thereof? Weigh in! Tax dollars making our nation more unhealthy should be concern for us all!

[1]. Food Stamp Use Linked to Weight Gain. Today’s Dietitian. Source: Ohio State University. September 4, 2009.


Filed under BMI, budget shopping, convenience foods, Food Stamp Program, hunger, US health care, weight gain