Category Archives: food journal

How low-carb would you go?

Yesterday was Taste Test Day at work and I served the Shrimp Scampi I made last month that Mr. Prevention loved so much. Ends up, so did everyone else!! Here’s a few emails that came in yesterday afternoon:


That was your best yet!!!!!!!!!!!! I have really liked some of the rest, but my that was great.

I’d say that dish is a keeper! 😉

Today I have a 10-miler planned (half marathon next weekend!!). Can’t say I’m thrilled about it…but I’m excited to have it done! I shyed away from running after my glucose kept going whacky but the doctor told me that despite the crazy blood glucose, the benefits outweigh the rest and to continue my exercise routine. Woo!

I have a pretty low-key weekend planned and I hope to try out some new recipes (of course), catch up with BLOGS (big time!), go to a new farmer’s market in my town, and spend some time with Lily who is limping pretty badly (again) after going to doggie day camp yesterday. Surgery is likely in her near future 😦

I also grabbed some reads off some of you recommended:

A Patient’s Guide to PCOS by Walter Futterweit, MD
Fit Food by Ellen Haas
Food to Live By by Myra Goodman
The Insulin Resistance Diet by Cheryle Hart, MD

Question: What do you think of low-carbohydrate diets? As in, 20-60 grams a day low (e.g. 1-2 pieces of bread or 1 cup of pasta)?? Do you or someone you know swear by ultra low-carb eating?

I ask because I sometimes post on one pretty credible health & fitness message board when I’m at work…just to kill time. Someone posted about “How low-carb of a diet do you follow?” and someone posted 20 grams a day…another 60 grams a day. I posted that that wasn’t safe and the girl BIT MY HEAD OFF! It really frustrated me! I don’t know everything, but I sure know carbohydrates and safe “dieting”! Gr, gr, gr! Sometimes online communication is not effective, and that reminded me of Tracey’s awesome post on how communication has changed so much, even in the past 20 years. Check it out if you have time!

My carb-controlled intake yesterday looked like this:

Breakfast: cappuccino, 1 Whole Wheat Banana Coconut Muffin, 6 ounces Greek yogurt (43 grams)
Snack: banana (30 grams)
Lunch: 2 leftover Chicken Enchiladas and 3 c. salad with balsamic vinegar (42 grams)
Snack: apple (15 grams)
“Dinner” on-the-go: 10 Triscuits with 3 ounces of low-fat cheese (35 grams)
Snack at baseball game: 5 nachos with 20 ounces of light beer (~15 grams)
Snack: 1 serving flan with 1/2 ounce almonds (22 grams)

Totals: 202 grams carbohydrate; approx. 50% carbohydrate

It was a bit weird and unbalanced because I got home from work around 7pm and we had friends waiting in our driveway to take us to a baseball game. So dinner was on the fly, literally!

Question: What are you doing this weekend? Anything fun? Anyone racing?




Filed under baseball, beer, blood glucose, book, breakfast, carbohydrates, coffee, diet, dietitians, dinner, exercise, food journal, low-carb, lunch, physical activity, protein, recipe, running, salad, snack, sugar substitutes, Uncategorized, work

Cinco Celebrations!

Thank you for your kind words on my PCOS news. You are all the best! You have made this news so much easier to accept and it helps knowing there are so many others out there going through such similar things. Misery loves company, right? 😉 I’m kidding! I do really and truly believe attitude is everything and I am not going to let this slow me down or define me!


If you know me, you know I LOVE Mexican food. And I get a little excited about Cinco de Mayo!

Unfortunately, this year’s Cinco meal was a bit of a disappointment. The enchiladas were good, but they weren’t the best. 😦 I spent about an hour on Tuesday night making the sauce and cooking and shredding the chicken and another 40 minutes last night assembling the meal. A bit tedious! And not as good as these enchiladas!

Chicken Enchiladas adapted from Cooking Light

2  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
4  (8-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4  cup  (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
2  tablespoons  chopped cilantro
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
2  cups  chopped onion
3  garlic cloves, minced
1  teaspoon  chili powder
1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper
1/4  teaspoon  ground cumin
1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3/4  cup  water
1  (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
9  (6-inch) corn tortillas, divided
Cooking spray
1/4  cup  (1 ounce) low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
2  green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 6 minutes on each side. Place skillet in oven; bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 15 minutes. Shred the breasts.Place chicken in a medium bowl; stir in cream cheese, 2 tablespoons cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add onion, and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove 3 tablespoons onion mixture; add to chicken. Add chili powder, red pepper, and cumin to remaining onion mixture in pan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in chicken broth, 3/4 cup water, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Tear 1 tortilla into small pieces; add to tomato mixture. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Carefully pour tomato mixture into a blender, and process until smooth.

Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture in the bottom of an 11 x 7–inch glass or ceramic baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. Warm remaining 8 tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/4 cup chicken mixture down center of each tortilla; roll up. Place seam-side down in prepared dish. Pour remaining tomato mixture over filled tortillas. Sprinkle filled tortillas with cheddar cheese. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Sprinkle with green onions. Yield: 4 servings (2 enchiladas each)

Nutrition Information (per serving): 496 calories; 23.4 g. fat (7.3 g.sat, 10.5 g. mono, 3.7 g. poly); 99 mg. cholesterol; 711 mg. sodium; 42 g. carbohydrate; 6.4 g. fiber; 30.9 g. protein

And we had some sugar-free Baja Bob’s almost virgin margaritas last night! And some flan too! Mmmm!

I looooooooove Mexican food! But not Tex-Mex, the real deal!

Question: When you eat Mexican, do you prefer fajitas? Tacos? Enchiladas? Tortas? Tostadas? Tamales? Other? Choose ONE! I know, it’s tough 😉

I’m a taco girl 🙂

P.S. A few of you are interested in seeing my carb-controlled “diet plan” and I will endeavor to post a few days here and there. Even though I am currently recording my intake to watch my carbs, I listen to what people eat all day and I can bore myself with that very quickly! And the last thing I want to do is bore you, too! 😉

Have a healthy one,


Filed under Baja Bob's, beer, blog topic request, dinner, food journal, holiday, low-carb, PCOS, recipe, Uncategorized

Saturated fat…bad? Or better?

Last month, a study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute negated an association between saturated fat intake and heart disease. Further, the study suggested that the limiting of fat intake is attributing to the rising obesity and diabetes rates in America. This report evaluated dietary data from a total of 347,747 subjects from 8 countries in 21 studies, over 25 years.

As the study points out, when fat is strictly limited in the diet, carbohydrate intake increases which can cause detriment to weight and blood glucose levels. Food is made up of 3 macronutrients – fat, protein, and carbohydrates. While (complex) carbohydrates should comprise the majority of the diet (50-60% of daily caloric intake in an average healthy adult), limiting fat (which is often found in high-protein foods), typically causes an increase in carbohydrate intake. This imbalance in macronutrients can cause an increase in weight and triglycerides, as well as an increased risk for developing diabetes. Additionally, excess carbohydrates are much more readily stored as fat when compared to fat and protein. The notion of “fat equals fat” couldn’t be further from the truth. A higher fat, moderate protein diet can increase satiety and better stabilize blood glucose levels when compared to a typical high-carbohydrate American diet.

For this very reason, I am a huge advocate of carbohydrate counting for weight loss. Not only is carbohydrate counting mathematically simpler than calorie counting, but it forces a balance in the diet. If I put a patient on a 1,600 calorie diet, for instance – they will put more emphasis on the totals rather than the components whereas carbohydrate counting creates flexible opportunity for the patient to balance their meals with protein, carbohydrates, and fat without meticulous calculations. Further, carbohydrate counting emphasizes portion control and regular meal times.

Whether I agree or disagree with this study, I think it surfaces some valid take-home messages regarding the make-up of our diets. Personally, I am a supporter of “diabetic” meal planning for patients looking to lose weight and use this approach on many of my patients.


Today at work was TASTE TEST DAY! The recipe I chose to make this week was turkey goulash. I am a huge fan of this recipe — quick, easy, delicious, and a crowd pleaser. It’s also a traditional dish in Oklahoma.

And everyone loved it! The emails flowed in as the afternoon hours passed on…

Hey Nicole,

THIS WAS AWESOME AS ALWAYS…….THANKS SO MUCH!!!  The things you cook/bake are so good, is hard to believe these are healthy, you do a great job!

Have a good afternoon!


Thank you, Nicole, for such an awesome job you do on the taste test. They are always so good! 🙂


Question: What do you feel the role of saturated fat in the diet should be? Less is more? Some is okay? Doesn’t really matter? Do you know anyone who is “fat phobic” despite the common knowledge of healthy fats (mono and poly’s) in the diet?


Filed under blood glucose, carbohydrates, diabetes, diet, dietitians, food journal, healthy cooking, heart health, hunger, low-carb, MUFAs and PUFAs, obesity epidemic, protein, recipe, reduced-calorie, research study, saturated fat, weight gain, weight loss, work

A friendly reminder of “foodship” before you eat to oblivion

Is anyone else sick of the talk surrounding how to “manage” the holidays? Even if I racked my brain ALL day, I’d struggle to come up with a new suggestion that would alleviate any stress surrounding the holidays, weight, and healthful eating. We all know what to do…so why don’t we (always) do it?

I had one of those most insightful sessions with a patient the other day. Our entire session was spent discussing the psychology and dysfunction behind why we do what we do when it comes to food. She recalled sitting at a luncheon and plowing heaps of food into her mouth despite being uncomfortably full. She said she felt as though food was going to lurch from her stomach it was so full – filled to capacity, literally. And yet when she realized there was a dish she hadn’t tried, she got up to help herself. She described eating to the point of exhaustion – mentally and physically. She had over-consumed to the point of being ill. And yet, 20 minutes later, she gives in to the ice cream and pie that she wanted to taste. She proceeded to consume large portions of dessert, despite having already been physically ill from eating too much. And she left the luncheon feeling completely confused by her actions, and moreover, the constant cycle of this behavior. WHY do we do this?

I don’t feel there’s any physical explanation as to why this happens; I feel this is wholly mental. Rather than focusing on calories, or journaling intake, or exercise, or adequate hydration, or food choices, I’ve decided to approach this behavior by confronting the behavior and not the food. My suggestion to my patient was to keep a log of her hunger cues and to listen to her body’s needs.

For example…

If you’re reaching for an apple…


Question: Are you HUNGRY? Yes or no.

If no, WHY are you going to eat? (circle one: everyone else is, looks good, bored, sad, excited, tired, celebrating, meal time)

If you’re not hungry, do NOT eat the apple.

Wait 10 minutes.


Question: Are you HUNGRY? Yes or no.

If no, do you still WANT that apple?

If yes, eat the apple.

If no, do not eat. Ponder your reasoning behind wanting to eat in the first place? What can you do to change this?

If this sounds crazy, chances are you’ve never struggled with your weight or over-eating. Consciously or not, this type of behavior happens day-in and day-out for most all of us. This type of behavior is mainly subconscious, but destructive and dangerous to health and body weight.

Most anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that I am a HUGE supporter of the “Fit-Over-Fat” theory. And familiar with the “Health At Every Size” (HAES) concept, have probably heard of Linda Bacon, professor of nutrition at City College of San Francisco and author of “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight [1].”

Linda Bacon supports “intuitive eating” – a means of consuming food that is in tune with hunger signaling (i.e. eating when you’re hungry and quitting when you’re satisfied). There are few individuals out there who can deem their diets flawless. Anyone and everyone should aim to incorporate healthy eating and lifestyle patterns to consume the right amount of the good and work to eliminate the bad. As a nation, we are so hyper-sensitive about weight status, clothing sizes, and weight loss…it’s nearly impossible to get excited about simply making a change because it’s the right move for your health and relationship with food and exercise. Maybe you’re like myself and just wish to escape from food from time-to-time to improve your “foodship” – your relationship with food.

The above scenario I would consider a classic case of poor foodship. The exercise detailed above is meant to hone in on signals for eating and to initiate a pattern of intuitive eating rather than the constant, mindless eating so many partake in.

While food, nutrition, and weight comprise my job each day, I would also consider food and nutrition a hobby. I guess you could say food is a HUUUUGE component of my life whether I’m shopping, preparing, eating, or thinking about food…everything seems to come back to food.

Some individuals place little emphasis on food; my mother doesn’t think about food, “crave” food, over-indulge in food, or talk about food. It’s just not a focal point of her life, unlike mine. Which leads me to my next thought — those with little emphasis on food have not only good “foodship” but also healthier weight statuses. I think this also ties in to Linda Bacon’s “intuitive eating,” don’t you?

I’m sure others have heard the saying, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” As an RD, I feel over-consumed by food from all angles of my life, and I can’t help but feel over-whelmed sometimes. And I can’t imagine others don’t feel the same – weight loss gimmicks smothered across magazines in the check-out lane, commercials and advertisements in all of our media, TV shows devoted to weight-loss…it’s every where. Every day. All day long.

So, question…do you feel there’s just TOO much exposure and emphasis surrounding weight-loss, dieting, food, etc.? Do you think your “foodship” could use a make-over? Do you think much of our country’s obesity can be attributed to poor relationships with food and lack of “intuitive eating”?

Can make this holiday season more healthful by utilizing intuitive eating? Will your holiday season really be less fulfilling and special if you don’t leave your celebration with unbuttoned pants? Probably not. 😉

Merry Christmas to all and to all a healthful holiday!

[1]. Jameson, Marnell. Do Extra Pounds Always Equal Extra Risk? The Los Angeles Times. October 12, 2009.


Filed under diet, fit over fat, food journal, health at every size, holiday, hunger, Linda Bacon, obesity epidemic, self-control, stress, weight gain, weight maintentance

7-Day Slim-Down

CNN Health may be on to something. I enjoyed their article, anyways. Here’s the scoop.

Sunday: Bite it, write it.
Keeping a food journal and recording your intake (everything you eat AND drink) certainly aids in accountability. Plus, Robert A. Charles, Ph.D. says you can expect to shed a whopping 5% of your body weight by adopting this habit [1]. Hey, 150-pound people out there…that’s nearly 8 pounds lost!
Monday: Take a multi-vitamin!
Two studies in the British Journal of Nutrition say that taking a multi-vitamin daily can help make you less hungry. Besides, those taking a multi-vitamin daily tend to weigh less and have lower BMI’s [1]. I’m sold on taking one!
Take a vitamin containing 100% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for: chromium, copper, folic acid, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, niacin, pathothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12 [1].
Tuesday: Circuit train the WHOLE body.
Circuit training burns more calories than traditional strength-training says Dr. Jim Stoppani, author of, “Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength.” Strength-training is more effective due to the shorter rest periods between sets. Leave about 20 seconds between sets and aim for 3 sets [1].
Wednesday: C-up
The Journal of the American College of Nutrition supports research on the use of vitamin C in fat burning – up to 30% more efficiency when consuming 500 milligrams or more of vitamin C while working out [1]. Plus, it’s good for immune function and wound healing.
Vitamin C-packed foods include: papaya, red bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, cauliflower, kale, parsley, and lemon juice.
Thursday: Grab a gab partner
Create a weight-loss network. Grab a friend and motivate one another to keep up an exercise routine and healthy habits [1]. Exercising with a friend can not only make the activity more enjoyable, but you’re more likely to keep up with the routine and stay consistent with your regimen.
Friday: Eat the rainbow
Cutting calories can be as simple as adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [1]. Due to the fiber content and low caloric-density, filling up on fruits and vegetables (5-9 a day every day!) can help decrease the consumption of all other, more calorically dense foods. Challenge yourself to snack on fruits and vegetables only. You may learn to like it…or to at least love the results!
Saturday: Relax!
Ralph LaForge, exercise physiologist at Duke University Medical Center, explains that people make better food choices when they are relaxed. He adds, you’re less likely to suffer from hunger pains when you’re relaxed. Take a few moments to perform some deep breathing when hunger strikes – it may just reduce your instinct to eat or to help curb your appetite for awhile longer.
Try the above each day this week and see how it goes. I’m going to give it a go!
[1]. Rossi, Carey. One Week to a Slimmer You: Focus on the Little Things. CNN Health. July 28, 2009.

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Filed under BMI, exercise, food journal, fruits and vegetables, RDA, vitamins, weight loss

One RD’s take on your failing diet…

Why does your diet fail? Lots of reasons, probably…

Reason 1: You follow the plan that worked for your friend.

There’s not ONE “right” diet…you have to do what works for YOU. Last year a study completed by the New England Journal of Medicine found that when compared, the Mediterranean diet, low-fat diets, and low-card diets all produced weight loss. Some say, “Pass the bread basket!” while others shout, “Give me the MEAT!” — to each their own, and same goes with their diet.
Reason 2: You eat a small breakfast.
Check THIS out: one study including 94 women showed that eating a larger (610 calories!) breakfast produced more weight loss in women when compared with those consuming a smaller breakfast (290 calories!). How much of a difference, you ask? The big breakfast eaters lose an average of 40 pounds, while the nibblers lost a pathetic 10 pounds! For the record, I completely agree with this one! Bring on the breakfast – yum!
Reason 3: You’re clueless about calorie counting.
Yep, that’s right…they’re calling you out. Did you know that an additional 100 calories each day leads to a weight gain of 10+ pounds a year? That’s a glass of fat-free milk or slice of 2% cheese too much in a day. Ouch! Add on a can of regular pop for an afternoon caffeine jolt, and you can count on an excess 25 pounds a year. Eek! So, write down what you eat by keeping a food log. A 2008 study found that recording your intake can DOUBLE your weight-loss.
Reason 4: You skip meals.
Extending the time between standard meals by 4-5 hours to “save up” for a special occasion can cause you to consume substantially more. And, you’re more likely to choose less healthy options, too. What to do? Eat every 4 hours as to not set yourself up for disaster at your next meal.
Reason 5: You load up on superfoods.
Nuts, avocados, and dried fruits are healthy, right? Yep! But, those are superfoods that are extremely easy to over-indulge in. While they’re PACKED with nutrients, they’re also extremely calorically-dense – it doesn’t take much to get the benefit before you’ve gone over-board! Your body loves the healthy stuff, but losing weight boils down to consuming LESS calories than we need. The body doesn’t care whether the excess calories are coming from fruit or candy – excess calories will lead to excess pounds.
Reason 6: You’re canceling out the benefit of your workouts.
Workout to pig out? Not wise rationalization… unfortunately. We tend to under-estimate our intake while over-estimating the number burned during exercise (Psssst: DO NOT get duped into thinking the elliptical accurately measures the number of calories you burn!). To burn off that 1 slice of 2% cheese we talked about earlier, you would owe the treadmill another mile of running. And with that additional can a pop, an ANOTHER 1 ½-2 miles of running. Walking, biking, and other aerobics will cost you even more time working away. Reward hard work at the gym with something other than food. Manicures, anyone?
Reason 7: You watch what you eat Monday thru Friday only.
Splurges ought to be reasonable and the weekend need not bring your weight loss efforts to an entire 2-day hault. And if you go really over-board, you’ve undone the results of scheduled, predictable (and probably good!) eating patterns the work week brings. Plan your weekend and act accordingly. A weekend, every weekend, is not a right to binge! (Duly noted. I do love the weekends…)
Reason 8: You don’t plan for stress.
Food is not a licensed therapist or source of entertainment — it’s fuel for our bodies. When you’re having an emotional moment or a mental uprooting, think about the situation at hand and devise an appropriate means of dealing with the situation. The right response to stressful situations does not involve fast food, refrigerators, or ice cream. Stress happens…learn to cope without using food as an answer. It won’t solve your problems, I assure you!
Ansel, Karen. 8 Reasons Your Diet Isn’t Working. Family Circle. August 2009.

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Filed under breakfast, diet, exercise, food journal, physical activity, stress, weight gain, weight loss


If your healthy habits aren’t habitual, train and trick yourself into making healthier food choices. Here’s my top 10 recommendations:

10. If you’re going to a restaurant which lists the nutrition facts online (consult websites such as or or in print, pick what you’ll order

before you walk in the doors. Don’t even look at the menu. Stick with the plan! P.S. I love the — check it out!

9. Pack your lunch! And when you pack it, make sure there’s

at least one truly satisfying item so that you look forward to your lunch and aren’t (as) tempted to head out with your co-workers to the nearest burger joint.

8. …when you pack your lunch, cut up and/or peel your fruit and vegetables ahead of time. That apple will be brown tomorrow, so you’d better not waste it.

7. If you go to a buffet, picnic, or place of infinite choices, survey your options before making your selection. Further, try not to let foods touch one another so you’ll pack less on a plate. If you must go back for second helpings, limit yourself to 1 item. Two items, tops.

6. In scenarios such as the above, use the “plate method” of serving yourself. Aim for 1/2 fruits/vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 carbohydrates. This will keep your calories down and ensure you’re eating a balanced meal.

5. At parties or restaurants (think chips and salsa on the table or the bread basket), sit AWAY from the appetizers and snack foods. They’re nothing but trouble!

4. If you have a craving (gyros come to mind for me), take a friend you can share with (as in half-and-half, not the infamous “80-20” plan) . Scratch the itch, but don’t draw blood…if you know what I’m sayin’.

3. Add fruit and vegetables to some of your favorite foods — zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions go great on a quesadilla (made with low-fat cheese and high-fiber wheat tortillas) while berries and bananas go great in your morning cereal or oatmeal.

2. Keep a piece of fruit in your car or office at all times. When the healthy stuff is easily accessible, you’re more likely to eat it. Further, if you’re finding it difficult to eat all your F&V’s, commit to having 2 snacks a day and making at least one a fruit or veggie. Another great idea is having a cut-up veggie tray with hummus or low-fat dip in your fridge at all times. If hunger is striking the second you walk in from work, the veggies can stave off hunger long enough to get dinner on the table without racking up the calories.

1. Bite it, write it. Keeping a food journal is the tried and true best method of keeping your intake in check. Keep a small journal or notebook with you and commit to writing down

everything you eat. When you’re accountable for writing it, you typically always think twice before eating it.

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Filed under 80-20,, dining out, food journal, lunch