Category Archives: weight loss

Weight Watchers PointsPlus™

I’ll start by saying that I had expected some catch some flack for being an RD and “supporting” Weight Watchers by learning about the new PointsPlus™ program and attending meetings myself. But I’ve thought long and hard about 1) learning about the new PointsPlus™ program at all, 2) attending, and 3) blogging about it for the world to judge. My recent weight struggles are related to a fairly recent diagnosis of PCOS and insulin resistance. But below you’ll find my thoughts on this all — good, bad, and ugly. Grab some popcorn and a beverage…this could be a long one, folks.

Firstly, I lost 75+ pounds on Weight Watchers. After Atkins and South Beach and several others had failed, Weight Watchers helped me at 190lbs and 14 years old when I was unhappy and leading a very unhealthy life. Weight Watchers is what lead me to wanting to become a dietitian and help others attain a healthier and happier them. In college, at 19, I lead Weight Watchers meetings. Helping inspire others to lose weight helped me keep my weight off and gave me the skills I needed in speaking with individuals both one-on-one and as a group. I truly feel that facilitating Weight Watchers meetings is what has me teaching college and loving it. So it’s no wonder as to why I will always be grateful to a program that lead me to where I am and who I am today.

It would be vain and insensitive for me to say that anyone wanting to lose weight should see a dietitian, and only a dietitian. While RD’s are the nutrition expert, seeing a dietitian is not realistic for most people, especially on a regular or semi-regular basis. While there are certainly weight loss programs lead by RD’s out there, they are far and few between, especially when comparing them to the accessibility and feasibility of Weight Watchers meetings across the US. As a professional in PREVENTION, I would never discredit a company such as Weight Watchers, who employs MANY Registered Dietitians and who has the common goal of helping overweight and obese individuals meet their weight loss and health goals. With epidemic proportions of overweight and obesity, how could I not support such efforts?

I would argue that Weight Watchers works for 3 very simple reasons:

1. Accountability. You go weekly, weigh-in, and learn tools necessary for calorie restriction, balanced dieting, exercise, and so on. And more than all of that, is seeing others on a regular basis who have the same goal as you.

2. Journaling. Weight Watchers has always emphasized food journaling. I blogged about food journaling on Friday and several of you commented that food journaling made you obsessive or fed (no pun intended) your ED behaviors. While I am not discrediting those points (they are very valid), I believe food journaling to be a reliable tool for self-assessment and accountability. Diet records are kept for a plethora of reasons and as a practicing dietitian, I heavily rely on patient’s food journals to help tailor nutrition education and stimulate behavior change.

3. Calorie restriction and healthy eating. If followed as designed, Weight Watchers provides a diet that is varied, flexible, balanced, and adequate. For those that don’t believe Weight Watchers gives you parameters with which to work, while providing the framework for a healthy diet, you are wrong. Weight Watchers builds their healthy eating guidelines off well-researched and well-published information regarding macro and micronutrient balance found in a healthy, balanced diet.

In reference to the new PointsPlus™ program, I believe there are positives and negatives. The major change from the Points™ to the PointsPlus™ programs is macronutrient composition. The new program is designed to be low-fat, high fiber, lower carb, and high protein. Generally speaking, if a food has more protein and/or fiber, the food will be lower in PointsPlus™. Similarily, if a food is high in fat and/or carbohydrate, it will be higher in PointsPlus™.

While I believe a higher protein diet to be helpful with satiety, most Americans consume plenty of protein each day. And while higher fiber foods are lower in PointsPlus™, carbohydrates overall cause a major jump up. Fat also causes PointsPlus™ values to be high. Just when we were starting to get the jest of “good” and “bad” fats, Weight Watchers is sort of going back in time to say that all fats should be strictly limited. With my 29 daily PointsPlus™, for instance, 1/2 avocado would run 6 PointsPlus™, 1 oz. almonds would run 4 PointsPlus™, 1 Tbsp peanut butter would run 3 PointsPlus™, and 2 tsp olive oil would run me 2 PointsPlus™. I could and would eat all of those foods throughout the day, however, they would account for nearly 52% of my allotted PointsPlus™ for the day, without providing much volume of food.

However, the new PointsPlus™ program continues to issue Activity PointsPlus™ which are earned for performing physical activity, as well as a Weekly PointsPlus™ Allowance of 49 PointsPlus™. While I would argue that many people use both sets of additional PointsPlus™ for “discretionary” calorie foods (alcohol, sweets, etc.), they should, for the most part, be used on wholesome, nutritious foods such as avocados, peanut butter, nuts, and heart-healthy oils, for example.

This would be a good time to mention that MOST fruits and vegetables are “free” foods on the new program, meaning they have a 0 PointsPlus™ value. On the old Points™ program, a banana had a Points™ value of 2 and most fruits had a Points™ value of 1. While these Points™ numbers are low, many people received only 18 Points™ per day and felt they were “wasting” Points™ spent on fruits. In an effort to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, most fruits and vegetables no longer “cost” any PointsPlus™. I believe this to be a very positive change, so long Weight Watchers continues to educate on hunger and satiety signaling and portion control. Just because fruits are a “free” and wholesome food, doesn’t mean we need 22 cups of watermelon in a day! At the end of the day, calories are calories regardless of their source and in order to produce weight loss, a calorie deficit must be made.

The higher protein, lower-carb change has its pros and cons. What I would encourage Weight Watchers members to take into consideration is the quality of carbohydrate they are consuming. Low-carb tortillas, for example, are often packed with preservatives and unnecessary ingredients. I would urge people to not always go for the lowest PointsPlus™ item, and to consider the wholesomeness of the food (check out ingredient lists!). Just like with healthy fats, consumers are beginning to find value in whole foods that have not been overly processed. Consumers and Weight Watchers members alike should continue selecting foods that are closest to their natural state without a laundry list of 9-syllable ingredients.

As for exercise, don’t do what I did years ago: exercise to eat more. As tempting as that is, food should not reward workout efforts. While properly fueling and replenishing is important, Weight Watchers members should avoid exercising in order to over-eat, or to compensate for over-eating. Activity PointsPlus™ should, for the most part, be used appropriately for wholesome, nutritious foods. And please don’t get me wrong, if you exercise, you do require more calories, even for weight loss. However, when you rationalize that exercise = splurge, it’s not reinforcing healthy changes for a lifetime.

Similarly, Weekly PointsPlus™ Allowances are meant to be used.  It has been a long-standing belief that if you don’t eat your Weekly PointsPlus™ Allowance, you will lose weight more quickly…but that is not always the case. The body can be finicky when it comes to weight loss and under-fueling the body can lead to plateaus and under-nutrition. Listen to your body, eat mindfully, and consume a healthy, balanced diet — the numbers work themselves out.

And when you meet your goal, stay there. That’s the hard part…the part I find most difficult. For those like myself who have been overweight since childhood, we are designed at the molecular level to re-gain weight. As humans, we stop making fat cells by early adulthood but we never lose these fat cells throughout life. The more fat cells the body contains, the easier weight gain will be.  The cells are always there, waiting to store any access calories as adipose (fat). This is why childhood obesity provides such a scary glimpse into the future.

I hope this has been helpful and enlightening for many of you. If you’ve made it this far, thank you. While my blog is a recording of my life and my thoughts, I would appreciate any negative comments be left unsaid. It is no secret that I have in the past, and will probably always struggle with my weight. Thankfully I now know why, in part, I struggle more than others. But as a 25-year-old woman, I see a family in my future. Not tomorrow, and probably not next year, but sometime…and I want to be as healthy as I can be when bringing a baby into this world — a baby that will hopefully not have to fight obesity from such a young age as I did.

Some of you may find the above makes me more “real”…others may fault me for being dietitian who struggles to maintain a healthy body weight. But this is me, and I am proud of every bit of me — chubby, fluffy, or perfectly lean 😉 It’s taken me years to get here, and I plan to continue loving and appreciating myself just as I am.

Lots of love,

42 Comments

Filed under PCOS, Uncategorized, weight loss, Weight Watchers

Start 2011 off right & tasty!

HAPPY 2011!!!!!

I hope the coming year brings you all nothing but health and happiness! 😀

Mr. Prevention and I had a cocktail at my favorite bar last night and then went out for a late seafood dinner. YUM! 9pm dinners miss the NYE crowd, FYI…it was very nice. 🙂 Then we headed over to a friend’s house for a mellow get together and just watched the NYC festivities on TV and played Mad Gab – it was fun! I stayed up til nearly 2am and slept until 9:30am! Definitely not standard for me, but at least I got my sleep 😀 (We like to sleep in this house. A lot.)

If you’re like most Americans, and myself, you may have (or plan to) set a new years resolution that involves health. Your resolution may involve weight loss, weight maintenance, exercise, healthy eating, cooking, resistance training, eating less processed foods, or so on. The sky is the limit and we all have different goals…goals that likely entail following a healthy lifestyle. And what better way to lead a healthy lifestyle than to eat a healthy diet. Three meals a day can easily lead to success or failure when it comes to attaining health and wellness goals. Thus, healthy cooking is the cornerstone to the healthy lifestyle I lead and blog about here at Prevention RD.

My blog has definitely taken that turn towards a healthy cooking blog in the past year and I love its new direction. Americans don’t cook enough and it has helped land us in the obesity crisis we are now in. While I do love to whip up some fancy stuff to challenge my culinary abilities, I more so enjoy finding healthy, tasty, quick, and low-cost meals that anyone could enjoy. Eating well SHOULD taste great, that much I can assure you!

I saw a recipe that caught my eye on My Kitchen Adventures. I’ve been CRAVING chicken salad, and this was the perfect answer to my stomach’s call.

“Waldorf Style” Chicken Salad adapted from Skinnytaste, as seen on My Kitchen Adventures

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp dried tarragon (optional)I omitted.
1 cup chopped apple (I used 1 medium Fuji)
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp each)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the mayo, vinegar, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Add in the chicken, apple, celery, cranberries and walnuts.  Cover and allow flavors to blend in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Serves 4 (about 1 cup/serving).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 204 calories; 7.3 g. fat; 41 mg. cholesterol; 308 mg. sodium; 14 g. carbohydrate; 2.3 g. fiber; 20.5 g. protein

Result: This was WONDERFUL! The flavors just…work! It keeps well in the fridge for upwards of a week, and the vinegar keeps the apples from browning so it always looks fresh and delicious, too. I ate 1 cup of the chicken salad on about 6-8 Triscuits as a meal and it was so filling, high in fiber, low in calories, and provided lots of lean protein. I am thinking about making this recipe for my patients because it is so good, simple, and high in lean protein.

T-2 days until teaching time – eek! I am going to be planning my lectures for the rest of the weekend and working out, that’s about it!

Question: How do you spend New Year’s Day?

Happy 2011, friends! Stop by tomorrow for a giveaway!

8 Comments

Filed under healthy cooking, low-carb, protein, recipe, Uncategorized, weight loss, weight maintentance

treat yourself…to breakfast! + new year’s resolution results

Registered Dietitians and moms most certainly agree on one thing: breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Lately, I’ve been climbing into my car in the morning, with half of my belongings in tow, and I am realizing something very important…I have been forgetting breakfast. Whether it be eating breakfast at home in the morning, or grabbing something on the go, breakfast has simply vanished from my routine. (And because I am notoriously running late, I don’t go back inside to grab something and rough it through the morning hours.)

As a breakfast lover and someone who wakes up with a grumbling tummy, I had to ponder how and why this was happening. Day after day after day. My co-workers and patients appreciate my soul-searching, too. Hungry me = mean me!

I came to the conclusion that my breakfast options were boring and so breakfast no longer interested me. I took a few moments to peruse my plethora of “to try” recipes and found this one. Glad I did!

Pancake Truffles slightly adapted from Healthy Tipping Point

1/2 cup raw oatmeal
1/3 cup whole wheat pancake mix (I used an omega-3 mix)
1 egg white
1/4 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup almond milk (I used skim)
4 1/2 inches of banana (cut into three 1.5 inch pieces)
1/4 cup whole pecans, crushed
3 Tbsp sugar-free maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or tin foil. Place crushed pecans in a small bowl.

Combine first five ingredients in small bowl. Separate mix into three piles. Take one segment of banana and coat in the pancake mix. Form ball around the banana segment, and then roll in the crushed pecans. Place on the cookie sheet. Repeat with other banana segments. Bake for 15 minutes. Drizzle with maple syrup and sever immediately. Serves 1.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 599 calories; 24 g. fat; 1 mg. cholesterol; 492 mg. sodium; 86 g. carbohydrate; 15 g. fiber; 17 g. sugar; 19 g. protein

Result: These were excellent! And they sound more difficult than they are — I was able to whip these together in 5-6 minutes after a morning workout and I baked them while I showered. I gobbled them down while my hair dried and it was perfect! You could also make these the evening before or even whip up a few batches for the busy work week and simply store them in the fridge until ready to bake. They are higher in carbohydrate than I usually go for, especially for the morning, but following a workout, I think they are perfectly appropriate. The high fiber (15 grams!) content also makes the glycemic load less on the body, which is all the better. If you want to reduce the calories some, reduce the amount of pecans as they account for nearly 1/3rd of the calories. While I think they add a lot of taste, texture, and nutrition to the truffles, you could get by with less. Enjoy!

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And in honor of it being the last day of 2010 (crazy!), I should take a moment to review how my 2010 resolutions turned out.

2010 New Year’s Resolution Results

  • fit in exercise AT LEAST 4 days a week, every week — Almost a check. There were TWO weeks in 2010 I only worked out 3 days. So close! I still consider this a great accomplishment and I want to continue to work towards this always and forever! I really do love exercise and for that I am VERY grateful!
  • continue trying new, healthy recipes (one recipe a week!) — Check, check, check!
  • run a half marathon — Barely, but check. I finished. It wasn’t pretty, but it got done. Very humbling.
  • obtain a weight that I feel energized at — Errr no. I am the exact same weight as the start of 2010. I guess that’s not a BAD thing, but this is my focus in 2011.
  • continue blogging about nutrition — Hi! I’m here! Check!
  • earn 500 hours towards the CDE credential — Check. This is no longer surging ahead at the speed I was going in my last job, but I am still completing diabetic education and I still love it just as much as I did in 2009! 😀

    In 2011 my new year’s resolution is simply to obtain a weight I feel energized at. I would love to lose my “PCOS weight” and get back down to my “happy weight”. Here goes nothing! 😉

    Question: What’s been your favorite breakfast lately? Is it heaviest in carbohydrate, protein, or fat? And, what are YOUR new year’s resolutions?

    Happy 2011 to all of my lovely readers! Thank you for your loyal readership, it means so much to me! It’s hard to believe I started this blog in June of 2009!!! Time flies when you’re having fun! Keep your eyes peeled for a giveaway coming up here shortly!! 😉

    Have a safe and WONDERFUL New Year’s celebration!! I hope I am the only one stuck at work today! 😦

    21 Comments

    Filed under blog, breakfast, carbohydrates, diabetes, dietitians, exercise, fiber, fish oil/omega-3's, holiday, PCOS, physical activity, recipe, reduced-calorie, vegetarian, weight loss, work

    Digging deep for the jolly

    It seems like the closer we get to Christmas the less jolly I feel. Quite frankly, I am beat. I haven’t been sleeping well with the anxiety I’m feeling towards my new teaching job. Obviously I am well-versed in nutrition, but I have never lectured 5 hours a week…while balancing a nearly full-time job and a growing private practice. I feel like my to-do list leaves me feeling like nothing ever gets accomplished and there’s always so much on my plate yet to get done. Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited about my new teaching gig…I just hope I do well and give my students the best dose of nutrition ever!

    My schedule come January is going to be…insane. I work 34 hours a week in dialysis, teach 5 hours + prep and grading, spend time in private practice and meetings with my partners as much as possible, and love to spend time cooking, exercising, playing ice-hockey, and blogging. I feel like there’s about 8 million balls in the air and I’m trying to keep them all from colliding or crashing to the ground. I thrive in busy environments, but this impending schedule is simply stressing me out.

    In order to keep blogging a hobby that brings me enjoyment, I will have to see what my schedule allows as far as posting. While I hope to continue blogging most every day, that may no longer be realistic. As much as that saddens me, I hope you understand…a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do!

    Today I am working a short day before picking up Lily at doggy daycare and we make the trip together to Chicago. Mr. Prevention is off on a “Poker Run” today in Illinois with his high school friends. Imagine 30-year-old men in 80’s workout clothes, running around the University of Illinois campus collecting poker cards from various bars for drinking certain beers, shots, and cocktails. As imature as this sounds, it’s a blast….and I will be stuck working. Bitter much? You betcha! The excessive alcohol doesn’t interest me, but not being able to witness this event this year is a shame! But really, I just miss having an actual “Christmas Vacation”…or any substantial amount of time off for the holidays. Oh well. I am very thankful for being employed, there is no doubt.

    On a completely unrelated note, several of you have asked me about the new PointsPlus plan from Weight Watchers. As familiar as I am with Weight Watchers, I am not familiar with the new plan. I did, however, find out that my company reimburses 100% for Weight Watchers and so I have plans to attend a meeting very soon to get the skinny (pun intended). With my company, however, you sign-up for either a 13 or 18-week package and are then reimbursed if you attend all the meetings (you can miss up to 3). Several coworkers are taking the plunge to join and I figured it would be a great opportunity to learn about the new program (and give my honest feeback to you all, of course!) and to possibly take off some weight that I have commonly referred to as my “PCOS weight”. Being the go-getter that I am, in addition to feeling as heavy as a boulder with all the Christmas eats, I went all out for the 18-weeks of Weight Watchers. Sure, it will be a challenge to take that time out for meetings, but it is a part of my “me” time that I require for sanity.

    It will certainly be interesting, as a dietitian, to sit in on a Weight Watchers meeting. It’s been a long time since I attended Weight Watchers AND lead Weight Watchers meetings. I have heard bits and pieces of the new program — good and bad…from media and members alike. The information regarding PointsPlus found online is very vague and I hope to bring you all information on the new program from my perspective.

    Well, that’s a wrap for the most whiny and random post…ever (?) on Prevention RD. I will be glad to pull into Chicago this evening and spend some time with the family, and hopefully a good night’s rest!

    I’ll leave you with a recipe for some tasty Pumpkin French Toast with Light Pumpkin Butter, inspired by our hosts in Albuquerque. Their pumpkin french toast was delicious!!


    Pumpkin French Toast with Light Pumpkin Butter

    1-16 ounce loaf challah, cut into 8 slices, about 3/4 to 1-inch thick
    1 cup of Egg Beaters or egg substitute
    1 cup + 3 Tbsp pumpkin puree, divided
    1 cup of skim milk
    1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
    3 Tbsp Smart Balance Light or Earth Balance
    1 Tbsp brown sugar
    non-stick spray

    Directions:

    For the butter, combine 3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree with the Smart Balance Light and brown sugar. Combine well.

    Cut bread into 3/4 to 1-inch thick slices. In a large bowl, whick together Egg Beaters, 1 cup pumpkin puree, milk, and pumpkin pie spice. Soak bread in milk-egg mixture for 1-2 minutes.

    Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place the soaked bread in the skillet or on the griddle, flipping after the bottom has browned. Cook the opposite side until browned. Serve immediately. Serves 8 with ~1 tablespoons of pumpkin butter.

    Nutrition Information (per slice with 1 Tbsp pumpkin butter): 221 calories; 6.6 g. fat; 17 mg. cholesterol; 340 mg. sodium; 35 g. carbohydrate; 3.4 g. fiber; 8.2 g. sugar; 8.2 g. protein

    Result: Carb-o-licious! It’s hard to limit to just 1 piece, but they are rather large. I splurged and had 2 one morning and I ate the leftover pieces one at a time with an over-medium egg. Delicious! Pumpkin is never out of season in my kitchen or belly!!!

    I may not be 100% jolly (just yet!), but our neighborhood is sure all decked out! Our block all decorates our trees the same and it really does look festive and beautiful!

    Question: Does the hustle and bustle of the holiday season make you giddy with glee, or do you get a bit overwhelmed and stressed?

    I think working adults need sanctioned holiday vacations like kids in school. I remember the days of a full MONTH with nothing but sleeping in was of concern! College, I miss you!

    Tis the season,

    15 Comments

    Filed under breakfast, butter, carbohydrates, coffee, condiments, diet, dietitians, holiday, PCOS, recipe, stress, weight loss, Weight Watchers, work

    Q&A and Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding

    Apologies for taking so long to get to your questions…all 2 of them! You guys used to be so inquisitive, what happened?! Have I simply answered your every last nutrition question? Doubtful 😉 Don’t be shy!

    Heather from Get Healthy with Heather: Could you share if the nutritional value changes in yogurt that you strain yourself?   Would the stats of regular plain yogurt that you strain be similar to thick greek yogurt?

    Prevention RD: I wish I had an exact answer for you, but I don’t. Homemade Greek yogurt (which can be made in a yogurt maker, crock pot, or simply by straining regular yogurt) has the water strained out so that the consistency of the yogurt is thicker and the protein concentration is greater (due to the lessened volume). How much water is left in homemade yogurt one will never know. You can strain the yogurt to simply be a thicker yogurt, or thick enough you can cut it with a knife. The more water you strain out, the higher the calorie (and protein/fat) content in the same size serving. The calories are slightly higher for commercial Greek yogurt when compared to regular yogurt — fat-free plain Greek yogurt clocks in at about 15 calories and 2.5 grams of protein per ounce while fat-free plain yogurt contains 13 calories and 1.5 grams of protein. Assuming the consistency is similar to your favorite plain Greek yogurt, the nutritional information will be very, very similar. I hope this helps!

    Samantha from Bikini Birthday: A friend of mine recently started the Eat Clean Diet. I don’t know the specifics of the diet but I do know that she has been eliminating things such as refined white foods, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods in favour of more nutritious whole foods. Lately she has been feeling light-headed, dizzy, and has experienced a slump in energy that she attributes to her new diet. I’ve heard that people sometimes experience negative symptoms when they start a new diet. What’s your take?

    Prevention RD: Firstly, I just want to profess my HATRED for the word “clean” used in regards to food. Not only does it not make sense to me, but it puts a totally negative “shame on you” connotation with anything listed as “unclean”. I’m a firm believer that health must encompass balance. ::Stepping off my soap box::The Clean Eating Diet encourages unprocessed, wholesome foods and exercise. The diet “guidelines,” as far as I can tell, include: 1) eating 5-6 times a day, 2) eating 200-300 calories at a time, 3) eating complex carbohydrate with protein at every meal, 4) drinking at least 8 cups of water daily, 5) never skipping a meal, especially breakfast, 6) avoiding saturated and trans-fats, and 7) sticking to appropriate portion sizes. The diet allows for 1 “cheat” meal a week, which thus requires meal plan compliance 97-98% of the time — a difficult task for most anyone. Moreover, are “appropriate” portion sizes really 200-300 calories? Certainly not for the traditional 3 meals with small snacks style of eater.

    Now that we know what the diet entails, I don’t know why your friend is feeling that way. Her symptoms are consistent with a very low carbohydrate diet, but not the diet described above (maybe she’s not following it correctly?). It is important to have some carbohydrate, preferrably complex (fiber-containing), at every meal, along with some protein for satiation and blood glucose control. The average adult requires a MINIMUM of 130 grams of carbohydrate in the diet to prevent the body from using protein and fat for energy. Carbohydrates are the most usable form of energy in the body and are required for proper bodily function both at the muscular level and cellular level. Maybe she’s falling under this recommended guideline?

    Some people experience negative symptoms after making major changes in the diet because they’re body requires an adjustment period. It could also be that they’re cutting out a major food group (carbs are something people love to banish), and that will certainly wreak havok on their bodies, especially at first. Balance and moderation are always key for restricting healthfully to produce weight loss. I hope that helps…sorry it’s so long!

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    Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding from Giada

    Filling:
    Cooking spray
    8 ounces multi-grain loaf, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
    3 1 Tbsp olive oil
    1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
    1 1/2 1 1/3 cups (6 5 ounces) shredded Parmesan

    Custard:
    6 large eggs, at room temperature
    1 cup whole milk
    1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Directions:

    Filling: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spray a 9 by 13 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Add the bread cubes and set aside.

    In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil. Pour the tomato mixture and Parmesan cheese over the bread cubes and combine well.

    Custard: In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together until smooth. Pour the custard over the bread mixture and gently toss to coat. Bake until slightly puffed and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pudding from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.

    Nutrition Information (per serving): 217 calories; 11.6 g. fat; 182 mg. cholesterol; 600 mg. sodium; 15.8 g. carbohydrate; 1.4 g. fiber; 13.8 g. protein

    Result: I absolutely LOVED this recipe…it was like bruschetta bake! When I saw it on Giada’s show last week I know I had to have it. The basil was spendy, but worth it…the flavor was so wonderful. I also recommend splurging on the whole milk, it was incredibly thick and creamy, and I just don’t know that fat-free or even 1% milk would do the same. Mr. Prevention loved how the bread was crusty and the tomatoes and “pudding” were tender. It was a very well-balanced and simple dish and paired beautifully with those White Wine Steamed Mussels! Mmmmm!

    I am getting so excited about Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to see my family and be home for the holidays, how about you?

    Question: What’s one food at Thanksgiving that your family always serves?

    My Grannie always made a pineapple souffle that was out of this world. We haven’t had it in a few years since Grannie stopped cooking, but I’ve decided that tradition must go on! Pssst, mom…you still owe me that recipe!!

    Already playing Christmas music…

    15 Comments

    Filed under blog topic request, carbohydrates, diet, dinner, fiber, fruits and vegetables, garlic, healthy cooking, herbs, Italy, low-carb, protein, recipe, reduced-calorie, Uncategorized, weight loss

    Weight Watchers catches on…

    Bbrrrrrrrrrr!!! Mid Ohio has gotten down right cold!! Hope it’s toastier where ever you are! Check out what the mornings bring:

    Told you so…COLD!!! I guess being a Southerner for 18 months did turn me into a wimp!! 😉

    Before I gush about an awesome fall recipe I tried, read about changes coming to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers in the UK has launched a new program that includes “ProPoints” that will take into account protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and fat. According to the Grocer, a British news outlet, calorie-counting as previously endorsed by Weight Watchers has since been proven “inacurate” and “outdated”. The new Weight Watchers program in the UK also gives participants “real living” points that can be used on occasional treats and alcohol. No details on the new US Weight Watchers program are available as of yet.

    While these changes in the UK program are vague, they seem to be working in the right direction. In recent years, types of calories are being examined more closely. In other words, all calories are not made equal. In theory, all calories are made equal — a calorie represents one unit of heat equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperatiure of one kilogram of water by one degree — but we all know that calories “spent” on empty calories like alcohol and simple sugars are not ones well spent as they provide no nutritive value. While Weight Watchers has made strides to encourage members to utilize their points appropriately, that has not deterred some individuals from the Cheeto and turkey hot dog meal plan. I would know, because that was me…10 years ago. One can quickly learn that you can eat what you want, as long as your points are within your target range, and lose weight. However, Weight Watchers is wisening up to see that while people are losing weight, they are not doing so appropriately.

    The new program sounds more sound in that is will take into account ALL macronutrients — the components that make up calories in foods: carbohydrate, fat, and protein. I would venture to guess that the new program will also set goals for macronutrient composition in the diet (i.e. a balance between carbohydrate, fat, and protein). We shall see what Weight Watchers has up their sleeves, but I do see some changes in the program for the better. But, of course, a visit to your friendly neighborhood dietitian is always best!

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    And on to the eats! 😀

    I saw this recipe on Erin’s blog and I knew I had to try it. Butternut squash and cannellini beans…what a perfect fall dish!

    Butternut Squash Cassoulet with Bacon and Roasted Garlic adapted from Cooking Light and The Healthy Apron

    1 whole garlic bulb (about 9 cloves), chopped
    2 oz. (4 slices) turkey bacon, chopped
    2 large onions, vertically sliced
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    2 Tbsp white wine (I used red because it was open, worked great!)
    1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
    2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
    1/2 cup organic vegetable broth
    1/2 tsp fresh thyme
    1/2 tsp kosher salt
    1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
    2 cans cannellini or great northern beans
    1 bay leaf
    2 slices Italian or sourdough bread
    2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
    1/2 teaspoon olive oil
    Chopped fresh parsley

    Directions:

    Sauté bacon in large skillet or Dutch oven ~5 minutes or until crispy. Set aside.

    While bacon cook, process bread pieces until course crumbs, add Parmesan, and 1/2 tsp olive oil. Set aside.

    Drain fat from skillet and clean or use a separate skillet. Sauté onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil ~5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, sauté another 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 2 tablespoons wine, cook ~15 more minutes or until onions are softened and brown. Keep stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar.

    Preheat oven to 375˚ F.

    Mix your onion mixture, garlic pulp, bacon, squash, broth, spices, and beans, in a large bowl and stir well. Transfer to a large casserole dish. Sprinkle with homemade breadcrumbs.

    Cover and bake at 375˚ F for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until squash is tender. (Remove cover the last 15 minutes of baking to brown the topping). Discard bay leaf and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 8.

    Nutrition Information (per serving): 215 calories; 4.5 g. fat; 6 mg. cholesterol; 444 mg. sodium; 33 g. carbohydrate; 7.9 g. fiber; 9.9 g. protein

    Result: I am BLOWN AWAY at how flavorful and delicious this cassoulet was. I knew it would be good, but it far surpassed my expectations. I ate this as a meal, but I think I would add goat cheese for a main course next time. I think that creamy richness would pair perfectly with the sweet, soft squash and the hearty beans. If you don’t have time to make homemade breadcrumbs, use Panko or just regular breadcrumbs…either would work just fine and be a time-saver! I am glad I halved the amount of beans…4 cans just seemed like a lot! I love beans, but I much prefer the squash to be the dish’s super star! The dish is a nice balance between carbohydrate, protein, and fat and is loaded with fiber while being low in calories. A winner all around! Enjoy!

    Trivia question answer: the #1 most requested pizza topping in the U.S. is PEPPERONI! Most of you guessed it, kudos! I honestly thought it was sausage and no one else guessed that, oops! 🙂

    Thanks for your great Q&A questions! If there are any others, send them over to me PreventionRD@gmail.com! I will post a Q&A next week, and keep a look out for Mr. Prevention’s cameo appearance post next week, too! 😉

    Question: What do you think about the changes Weight Watchers is making to their program? Are there any other changes you would like to see?

    I would love to see sodium and saturated/trans fat included in the Weight Watchers program.

    I am off to an all-day meeting with renal dietitians from all over Ohio! Should be a great day packed with lots to learn!!

    Happy day-before-Friday!


    20 Comments

    Filed under blog topic request, carbohydrates, Cooking Light, dialysis & kidney disease, diet, dietitians, dinner, fiber, fruits and vegetables, garlic, healthy cooking, herbs, hydrogenation, obesity epidemic, pizza, protein, recipe, saturated fat, sodium, trans fat, vegetarian, weight loss, work

    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!!

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    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)

    Directions:

    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.

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    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! 😀

    TGIF,

    22 Comments

    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