Category Archives: food safety

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!

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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,

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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

7 foods in question

Happy Friday! 😀 Bring on the weekend, right?!

I left for work at 6:30am yesterday and didn’t walk in the door til 8pm! Loong day! Last evening was the Bariatric Surgery Support Group I lead and the turn out was excellent! My group continues to grow and I have learned SO much! While I think there’s a “right” and a “wrong” candidate for bariatric surgery, the bottom line is that people are going to get weight loss surgery somehow…some way. As a dietitian, it is my duty and my job to help these individuals make the right surgical or non-surgical decision for THEM and to help them adopt lasting lifestyle changes in their eating and exercise habits. It has been very rewarding once I was able to put personal biases aside.

Today I wanted to discuss an article called “The 7 Foods Experts Won’t Eat” [1]. Seven different medical and nutrition experts each listed a different food they strictly forbid in their diet. I thought the list was not only interesting, but controversial and I was curious to hear some feedback from you all! So here it goes…

1. Canned tomatoes shunned by Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A.

The issue: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals [1].

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles.

2. Corn-fed beef shunned by Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming.

The issue: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains [1]. Grain-fed beef have less nutritional value and are higher in saturated fat than grass-fed beef.

The solution: Purchase and consume grass-fed beef.

3. Microwave popcorn shunned by Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group.

The issue: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer [1].

The solution: Pop popcorn in a skillet.

4. Nonorganic potatoes shunned by Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board.

The issue: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil [1].

The solution: Buy organic.

5. Farmed salmon shunned by David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The issue: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT [1].

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed [1].

6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones shunned by Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society [1].

The issue: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production [1].

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products [1].

7. Conventional apples shunned by Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods [1].

The issue: Apples are heavily sprayed with pesticides.

The solution: Buy organic. Otherwise, wash and peel apples before eating.

Question: Do you avoid any of these 7 foods, too? Are there any you disagree with? Any changes you may make in your grocery purchases?

I think I will make apples and potatoes 2 produce items I purchase organic. I buy wild-caught fish and grass-fed beef, and I never eat popcorn. Canned tomatoes are a tough one, but if jarred tomatoes are safe…I can do that! And I always buy milk that does not contain rBGH-free.

Any fun weekend plans?

I can’t wait to relax!

Happy weekend!

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Filed under farming, food safety, fruits and vegetables, going "green", grocery store, hormones, meat consumption, microwave, obesity epidemic, saturated fat, work

Coconut Water: Health Food or Health Fad?

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Good news, coconut water lovers! Unlike the questionable coconut oil, I give coconut water 2 thumbs straight up!

As I was trying to stay awake on the red eye to Columbus last night, I found myself purusing the pages of my ADA Times. Highlighted as a consumer trend, coconut water was discussed. And appropriately so. I would go so far as to argue that coconut water is one of the biggest trends in nutrition today.

[source]

Coconut water, unlike coconut milk, is found inside young, green coconuts. The water is thin and filmy with a distinct flavor and mild sweetness. Comercially-sold coconut waters are pasteurized to prevent from food borne illness. However, DO NOT keep coconut water for more than a day in the refrigerator once opened.

Coconut water contains plentiful amounts of electrolytes and minerals making it a most desirable form of all-natural hydration and nutrient replenishment for athletes and exercisers. One cup of coconut water contains 46 calories, less than 0.5 grams of fat, and is a good source of fiber (3 grams), magnesium (60 milligrams), potassium (600 milligrams), and vitamin C. A single cup also provides 252 milligrams of sodium and 9 grams of carbohydrate. A preferred list of stats compared to a cup of Gatorade offering 50 calories, 110 milligrams of sodium, a mere 30 milligrams of potassium, 14 grams of carbohydrate, and no fiber.

Added bonus: taste! Mmmm!

Off to have diner and drinks with fellow dietitian and blogger, GINA! I’m excited!

I hope to catch up with everyone soon, but we are busy busy busy while in Columbus! Lots going on, but more details on major life changes soon!

Question: Have you ever tried coconut water? Did you know its health benefits before now?

Nearly Friday,

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Filed under blog, carbohydrates, dietitians, dinner, exercise, fiber, food safety, friends, minerals, physical activity, sodium, supplements, vitamins

Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

Last week, many of us read how there’s possibly no benefit to organic. This week, there’s not only a “Dirty Dozen” but also a “Clean Fifteen”. Here’s what CNN reports:

The “Dirty Dozen”

1.    Celery
2.      Peaches
3.      Strawberries
4.      Apples
5.      Domestic blueberries
6.      Nectarines
7.      Sweet bell peppers
8.      Spinach, kale and collard greens
9.      Cherries
10.  Potatoes
11. Imported grapes
12.  Lettuce

The “Clean 15” (contain little to no pesticides)

1.      Onions
2.      Avocados
3.      Sweet corn
4.      Pineapples
5.      Mango
6.      Sweet peas
7.      Asparagus
8.      Kiwi fruit
9.      Cabbage
10.  Eggplant
11.  Cantaloupe
12.  Watermelon
13.  Grapefruit
14.  Sweet potatoes
15.  Sweet onions

Also included in this CNN article was the fact that 45% of the world’s crop is lost due to spoilage and damage, and this is why pesticides are utilized by farmers. Then someone commented on the article, “Why does organic cost more than inorganic produce if farmers save money on chemicals?” And while I don’t know that the answer is damage from pests, insects, etc…I’d imagine that’s a pretty good guess. Therefore, it would make sense that organic farmers have to plant nearly 2x as much as inorganic farmers to produce the same yield.

Silver lining? There’s more on the “Clean 15” list than there are on the “Dirty Dozen”! 😉

I give a lot of credit to farmers. My tiny 10′ x 6′ garden has been a lot to plant, weed, water, and sow. I can only imagine it being my full-time job and fearing the wrath of weather, storms, pests, and everything in between.

My spinach just this week went from thriving…to DEAD. It just shriveled up in the 98º Oklahoma heat and that was that. 😦 My potatoes are seeming to do the same, HOWEVER, I believe that looks to be the case because they are actually ready to harvest! Potato leaves die off when the potatoes are ready to dig from the ground. Here’s hoping! I’m going to give them a few more days but they currently look like this:

But other than my spinach, things are doing well…ESPECIALLY kale, romaine, and TOMATOES!!! 😀

Bell Peppers!

Squash!

Last night was a cook-free night as we met friends for Mexican food! I behaved so that I could come home and knock out a few miles on the treadmill in order to stay on track with my 101 Days of Summer Challenge to run 70 of the next 101 days. It was day 3 after all…I can’t be slacking already! I pounded out a quick 2 miles…even though it was later (okay, it was only 8:30pm…but I am a grandma about my evenings!)…and I had just eaten. I also did my push-ups for Heather’s challenge…but I did them in the privacy of my living room today! 😉 Glad everyone found that story to be as funny as me!

Question: What do you think of potatoes nutritionally speaking? Do you try to limit them at all? Potatoes get a bad rap these days and I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on spuds!

Spud love,

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Filed under challenge, dining out, dinner, exercise, farming, food safety, friends, fruits and vegetables, garden, local produce, news, physical activity, restaurant, running, self-control

OIAJ: Safe or not?

So I left work a few (coughcough60minutescoughcough) minutes early yesterday. I think my little Lily is depressed. Her leggie hurts and we’ve booked her for surgery on the 25th 😦 She also needs to be practically immobile for 7-10 days, so she’ll be boarded at the vet that first week post-op. I know she would just crrrry being here with us and not able to come out of her crate. And plus, this surgery is costing a small fortune (the things we do for our “kids”…), and I don’t want her not healing properly.

ANYWAYS, Lily and I spent the early evening cooking a lasagna for tomorrow that came highly recommended by Holly. She talked it up, and I trust my bloggie friends’ taste in food! It smelled wooonderful, I can’t wait to try it! Recipe and pictures tomorrow 🙂 We also made homemade pizza for dinner, per Mr. Prevention’s request. I put pizza on the menu for the week because Biz posted a no-rise dough recipe that I just had to try!

No Rise Pizza Dough slightly adapted from The Biggest Diabetic Loser (AKA “Biz”)

2 cups flour whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup warm water
1 packet yeast
1 tsp salt

Mix well and roll it out – add up to 1/2 cup additional flour to get the right texture. Bake for 5 minutes before adding ingredients. Yield: 8 slices

Nutrition Information (for 1/8th crust): 110 calories; 0.5 g. fat; 288 mg. sodium; 22 g. carbohydrate; 3 g. fiber; 0 g. protein

My half: mushrooms, prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and arugula
Mr. Prevention’s half: turkey pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and arugula

Mmmm!

Result: Mr. Prevention said this tasted “less whole wheat and healthy” than the store-bought whole wheat crust. I believe that’s a good thing coming from my pizza connoisseur extraordinaire 😉 But yes, easy and delicious! 😀

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[source]

OIA(plastic)J: Safe or not?

[If you’re new to blogs, or not familiar with this fad…keep your eyes peeled, it won’t take long to surface]

I’ll be honest, I don’t get the whole OIAJ (oats in a jar) trend — plastic or glass. But microwaving my oats and throwing them in an empty nut butter  jar seems like an added step to oats + nut butter…and potentially hazardous (if plastic). Not all plastics are safe to come into contact with food just heated in the microwave. And please, never ever ever microwave your oats IN the plastic nut butter jar. No, no, no.

This is the logo (and plastic description) on the bottom of my Krema peanut butter jar:

Type 1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET)

“May be safe if marked “microwave safe”, although some recommend against food contact when microwaving.”

I think this could be interpreted several ways. Is it safe? Probably. But why risk it? My jar is NOT labeled “microwave safe”, and throwing steaming hot oats into it seems like a totally avoidable potential hazard. Call me crazy!

I’m sure OIAJ are tasty, but I’ve just always scratched my head at this trend. Maybe I’m too lazy or practical to dirty a bowl and then transfer it to a jar? Or maybe I’m just hypersensitive to possible dangers or plastics and heat? I don’t know…

Question: Are you on the OIAJ train? If not, why not? Have you ever worried about the potential hazards of plastics and heat?

Be well,

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Filed under breakfast, cancer, dinner, dog, fiber, food safety, fruits and vegetables, microwave, pets, pizza, recipe, Uncategorized

Is canola oil good for you?

It is nearly common knowledge that canola oil is “healthy” – it is lowest in saturated fat and highest in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat of all oils. And contains omega 3’s.

Many believe canola oil is developed from the rapeseed plant which contains toxic erucic acid. While this is not entirely untrue, canola oil is derived from the canola plant which was developed through natural hybridization of the rapeseed plant. The canola plant contains trace amounts of erucic acid.

Rapeseed is a member of the mustard or cabbage family and its oil is traditionally used in Japanese, Indian, and Chinese cultures. Up to 60% of rapeseed oil is made up of eurcic acid, which is linked to fibrous heart lesions.

Canola oil is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration and is deemed one of the healthiest by most main-stream health professionals.

Canola oil is used as an edible oil as well as an insecticide, lubricant, fuel, soap, rubber, and ink. Ew, huh? Well, just as canola oil has alternate uses, so do most oils. Coconut oil is used as a moisturizer, soaps, and other cosmetics and flaxseed oil is used in paints and linoleum. Yummmmmmy… 😉

Others would argue that canola is the result of genetic modification. Sure, okay. Personally, I’m okay with this. If someone buys 100% organic foods and only eats 100% organic foods, I guess they have taken their stance. For the general population who does what they can in purchasing organic and local foods, it’s important to come to terms with genetically engineered foods…because it’s every where. Maybe even inescapable.

I think there are a lot of myths floating around about canola oil being toxic and “fake”. And the story of canola can be altered in a way to make that seem believable. Bottom line: all major health organizations (i.e. American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, MayoClinic, etc.) support canola oil as 1) safe and 2) healthy.

If you are a “clean eater” (despise that term with a fiery passion, but I know you’re out there!), then no, canola oil is probably not for you. But be realistic in the foods you choose to eliminate and don’t demonize certain foods without examining all the food you consume. Just to keep things legit. I really dislike when people slap a label on their dietary intake, demonize certain foods, and then aren’t educated enough in their decision to know how to put it into action..or are just to stubborn, lazy, or uncommitted to do so (I’m just saying…)

And, there will always be a study dispelling the main stream knowledge. Always.

So have your canola oil. Or don’t. But include everything in your arsenal in moderation. 😀

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Onwards to the GRUB!

Quiche is one of those foods I really love, but never make. For some reason, quiche intimidates me. But I put that to rest last night. Faith amazes me. Her recipes are always beautiful, balanced, and boast-worthy. Her ingredient lists alone make me salivate. This unique quiche caught my eye and as I read through the directions I thought, “Even I can do this.” So I did, and I’m so glad I did. DELICIOUS!

Spaghetti Quiche with Roasted Asparagus slightly from An Edible Mosaic

1/3 lb multi-grain spaghetti (or any kind of spaghetti)
3/4 lb (12 oz) fresh asparagus
1/2 1 TB olive oil
4 extra large eggs plus 2 extra large egg whites
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup low-fat fat-free milk
3 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded
2 small tomatoes, sliced (I used Roma)
Salt and pepper (approx. 1/2 tsp each)
Butter olive oil (to grease the pan)
10-inch oven-safe frying pan

Roasted Asparagus:  Preheat the oven to 425º F.  Wash the asparagus and pat it dry.  Snap off the tough ends and arrange the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then use your hands to roll the asparagus around so it’s evenly coated with oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, giving the pan a shake halfway through cooking.  The asparagus is done when it’s golden brown in places and fork-tender.  Allow the asparagus to cool slightly, then cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1-inch long).

Prepare the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions.

In a blender or food processor, process the cottage cheese and milk until smooth.  Pulse in the eggs, egg whites, and a pinch of salt and pepper until combined.

Turn the oven down to 350º F.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 10-inch oven-safe frying pan with butter.  Spread the spaghetti on the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle the asparagus on top.  Pour in the egg mixture evenly over the asparagus and spaghetti, sprinkle on the cheese, and arrange the tomato slices on top, pressing them down slightly.  Bake for about 40 minutes until the quiche is set and the bottom and sides are golden brown. Yield: 4 large servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 375 calories; 15.8 g. fat; 236 mg. cholesterol; 713 mg. sodium; 36.5 g. carbohydrate; 6.3 g. fiber; 24 g. protein

Question: Do you have any special Cinco De Mayo events or menus planned? And just for fun: margarita, Corona, or agua? 😉

I’m looking forward to homemade enchiladas! Ey ey ey!

P.S. Mr. Prevention and I signed up for a 5K on Saturday night! I’m excited! We ran this race last year and it involved beer at the finish line. My kinda race! 😉

Ta ta for now,

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Filed under alcohol, American Dietetic Association, beer, blog topic request, coconut oil, diet, dinner, fish oil/omega-3's, food safety, genetics, healthy cooking, heart health, MUFAs and PUFAs, nutrigenomics, racing, recipe, restaurant, running, saturated fat, Uncategorized