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Stop Eating Plain, Boring Vegetables

By now, you’ve heard that DASH Diet is voted one of the best diet plan to follow. I’m talking lifestyle here. For life.

Just about any sensible diet plan, that’s supported by science, will be recommending you add more vegetables to your diet.

You know you are supposed to be eating more vegetables, but you don’t think you like them. Consider this: Many people have never had a vegetable dish they really like because they’ve never had a delicious vegetable dish to try! It has a lot to do with both the cooking method, and the prep. How are the vegetables cut? How are they combined? What sort of flavors are added to them? How are they cooked?

If you are used to eating bland, steamed or boiled vegetables, set a goal to try cooking some on your own, and try a wider variety this year. They can really taste great with the right prep and cooking method. Even an inexperienced cook can excel.

Asparagus is an easy vegetable to prepare. Try these three easy ways to cook them:

  1. Heat grill. Rinse asparagus, and using your hand, break off the end (where it breaks naturally). Place asparagus on a plate and drizzle with olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Place onto grill pan on hot grill, and cook for about 5 minutes. You’ll want them to be “crisp-tender” meaning they will be tender, but still have firmness to them.
  2. Steam. Put a large pan on the stove, add about 2/3 cup water and heat to boil. Add cleaned asparagus to pan, cover and simmer for 6-7 minutes. Remove to platter immediately, add 2-3 teaspoons olive oil, and squeeze half a lemon over.
  3. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Clean asparagus and place onto cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil. Drizzle with1 tablespoon olive oil, add 2 garlic cloves to pan, and toss all in oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender.

Swiss Chard and Spinach (and yes, Kale) are both full of Vitamin C and folic acid. These greens are so easy to cook. Simply prep by chopping off stems and rinsing well in a colander to remove dirt or grit (or you can purchase the pre-washed bags of greens). Five to six cups of raw greens will cook down quickly to about 2 cups.

  1. Heat 1 TB olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 clove minced garlic and chopped greens, and stir quickly until greens are wilted, reducing heat if needed. Enjoy as a side dish or add to an omelet.
  2. Try my roasted cauliflower and kale.
  3. Saute the greens as above in #1, transfer to plate, quickly add chopped nuts (walnuts or pine nuts) to hot pan over medium-low heat, saute for a minute, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and toss to coat, stir 1 minute. Add nuts to greens and serve.

Finally, a simple tossed salad can be eaten daily, upping your veggie intake.

  1. Using pre-packaged greens can be a big time save but don’t stop at the greens. Add yellow tomatoes, chopped cucumber, sliced grapes, sliced strawberries, orange sections, chopped nuts (or the toasted nuts as above), slices of avocado, olives, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, or canned (rinsed) beans.
  2. Make your own simple dressing – try 1/4 olive oil, 2 TB raspberry vinegar (or balsamic), 2 teaspoons honey (or mustard, or both), pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until combined, drizzle over salad.


If one of your 2017 goals is to use the DASH Diet plan, then you’ll need to increase your vegetable and fruit intake. By all means, make them tasty! Try our DASH Diet recipes and tips found in our cookbook and cheat sheets.


Note: Adding vegetables to your diet is important, so while these examples use fresh produce, it’s still okay to eat canned or frozen vegetables! Canned beans, tomatoes, even corn, can really come in handy when you’re short on time. Look for water-packed, and low sodium canned vegetables. Rinse beans to remove some of the sodium (black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, kidney beans – all great inexpensive sources of fiber and protein).


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When Alternative Turns Mainstream

How much farther can we go with the “Detox” craze?

What once was a hollywood fad, has become mainstream, and January is the month to market the hell out of it. Just search the word “detox” and you’ll get 11,700,000 hits (yes, that’s over 11 million!) with many articles and website purporting the idea of “cleansing” your body, “aiding in the natural detox process” or “jump starting” your body’s systems.

Yeah, it’s all pretty much bunk. What makes this worse, is when physicians (who are supposed to be trained in physiology, biology, and medicine) support this stuff. Dr. Oz offers a “48-hour weekend cleanse”, and Dr. Mark Hyman supports a “10-day detox”. Both of these guys are (celebrity) physicians, and the public tends to trusts them. But perhaps that public trust has changed, and unfortunately, these questionable public figures bring other physicians and qualified allied health professionals down with them.

The recent news story about the physician at Cleveland Clinic (where Dr Hyman is also affiliated with) who blatantly wrote an editorial about his anti-vaccination opinion (including that he thinks it causes autism) is another example of how alternative “medicine” deserves to be scrutinized.

There is absolutely zero science to support his claim, but there is lots of science that supports how beneficial childhood vaccines are (remember polio?) for the greater population. You can read his letter and cast your own judgement (he’s a family practice physician). It’s since been edited from the original post on January 6. had to follow it up with an explanation, which doesn’t seem to address anything about the idea that the public should expect evidence-based medicine from such a medical institution as the Cleveland Clinic.

So while Dr. Neides is worried about pronouncing food ingredient lists, I am more worried about the alternative movement in medicine. For one thing, there seems to be a trend to push this type of treatment using fear-mongering and tried and true fad marketing (e.g. using the word “detox”). Yet they want to be trusted?

Cleveland Clinic’s Alt Med staff includes a “Culinary Medicine” and “Energy Medicine” specialist. I’m not sure what those are. It’s not just doctors who are going alternative routes. Plenty of dietitians use alternative therapies or functional nutrition (functional and integrative are the best terms) in their practice.

Eat a Better Diet

One thing all “alternative medicine” or integrative medicine folks may agree upon: Eat a better diet. The problem is that many won’t agree on what that diet is (dietitians however, generally individualize diets, as opposed to prescribing just one sort of diet plan).

Functional nutrition can certainly have a role in health, and I wholly believe that diet has a huge impact on health and well-being. Certainly treating “the whole” person, and doing a thorough medical exam, is smart practice. Even integrating non-medical treatment that can relieve stress, can benefit health. Massage for stress relief? Yes, but not to treat your chronic pain or your diabetes. Sauna, after a swim? Sure. Is there some science behind acupuncture and chiropractics? Yes. But some practitioners simply go over the line.

Do some people eat crappy diets? Yes, but dietitians work with them to make gradual changes with tried and true recommendations based in science. Do some people need supplements? Yes, but this has to be individualized. Do we identify the “toxic” food in their current diet? Ah, no.

But the issue I have with functional medicine, is not its definition, but the fact that some of the practitioners associated with it seem to have poor medical judgement.

I could not recommend therapies that routinely recommend you avoid certain food groups, or take unnecessary supplements that have no science behind them, promise results, or are completely anecdotal.

Oh but wait, Americans spend 30 billion dollars a year on these treatments…Right. Buyer (follower) beware.




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DASH Diet #1 Seventh Year in a Row

Best Diet. Seven years in a row.

Do you think this suggests you should learn more and try it? I do!

US News and World Report has once again ranked the DASH Diet as the Best Diet. Despite being ranked as the Best Overall Diet for 7 years in a row now, they report it as still “relatively obscure”. My hope is that 2017 is the year that perception changes, and more realize it really is one of the best overall plans to eat for health. The Mediterranean Diet also ranked high, in the #2 spot (and perhaps more folks are at least familiar with the term) and the MIND diet (a blend of DASH and Mediterranean diets) also ranked well at #3. You could choose any of those three, but I have DASH Diet resources for you.

As co-author of DASH Diet For Dummies®, I couldn’t be more excited that it was not only rated Best Overall Diet, but also Best Diet for healthy living, diabetes, and heart health. 

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and was originally created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute to treat high blood pressure. The research says it works to lower blood pressure, but the heart-healthy diet plan has also been shown to be easy to follow, and helpful for weight control and diabetes.

US News comes up with this list each year, and they don’t do so randomly. They actually have a methodology and a broad panel experts. They consider:

  • How easy it is to follow
  • The diets ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss
  • The nutritional completeness of the diet
  • Its safety
  • The potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease.

If a diet plan is too difficult to adhere to long-term, it can’t have much benefit. Since diabetes and heart disease are leading health issues in the United States, it really is time to recommend DASH Diet to the masses.

The DASH Diet plan includes adding more fruits, veggies, dairy, nuts and seeds to your diet, and cutting back on meat, some fats, and salt. Use our For Dummies® Cheat Sheet handy as you set your goals. Better yet, go ahead and order our books! Such a small investment for a big impact on your health and lifestyle!


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The New Year of Now

I’ve been a dietitian for 30 years. Hard to believe, but true. I’ve been a writer for 22 years, which means I have written thousands of articles, and often this time of year many were centered around “getting healthier in the new year”.

Well, the jig is up! 

It’s not about the new year, it’s about making changes, making healthy choices, now. Now. Now. Now. Health insurance plans are in turmoil, and while you don’t have control over everything, you do have control over some things. Do something now about the things you can control, that do impact your health:

Don’t Smoke.

  • Find a way quit. Enlist a friend or family member for support.
  • Find a smoking cessation class. Talk to your doctor.

Eat Less.

  • You can control the portion sizes of your food, and how frequently you eat.
  • You can still enjoy some high calorie foods, just reduce your portions
  • If you’re over 45, it’s especially time to reduce the portion sizes of everything you eat and drink.

Eat More Plants

  • Plants are medicinal. Fruits, vegetables, and grains contain fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals that help our bodies stay well. They won’t cure us, but they’ll try to keep us as healthy as can be.
  • Find new recipes that will add delicious dishes into your plan. One-bowl meals are a quick and easy way to add veggies and grains every week
  • Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated and using beans, frozen or pre-packed veggies, makes it easy to throw a meal together.

Move More.

  • Exercise has proven health benefits. It will help keep your metabolism humming, maintain or reduce weight, and improve your mood and productivity. Do it.
  • Schedule gym days and find a friend to get there with.
  • Find ways to move more during your regular day. Not exercise, just movement. Walk farther, do more housework. Take your phone calls standing or pacing. Stretch while you are on speaker phone. Walk or bike to the neighbors instead of driving. Take the stairs. Find short 15 minute exercise videos to put on in the morning or evening.

Drink Less.

  • Excessive alcohol intake causes a number of health issues, including cirrhosis, high blood pressure, heart disease.
  • If you do drink, do so responsibly, use the moderation guidelines of 1 drink a day for women, and 1-2 for men.
  • Drink more water, use diet or soda water for mixers

Stress Less.

  • You can’t control everything bad that happens to you or your loved ones, but you can control how you choose to deal with it.
  • Find a support system.
  • Exercise regularly.

Enjoy More.

  • Don’t think in terms of what you can’t or shouldn’t eat. Frame it as trying new foods that taste good and are good for you.
  • Take the clutter away. What are you doing in your life that really doesn’t give you any joy at all? Remove it if possible, and use that time to enjoy some exercise in the fresh air, or another stress-reducing hobby.

Invest in Your Health

  • Don’t wait for your health insurance plan to schedule a visit with a dietitian or get support from an online coach.
  • You may not hesitate to spend $30-75 on hair and nails, so consider setting aside $75 for a nutrition counseling session this year.
  • While I can make the argument that healthy food does not have to cost a lot, I also can tell you that sometimes it is worth paying more for your groceries. Don’t skimp. Eat good food.

Accept Slow Progress and Maintenance.

  • Losing weight is difficult, and keeping it off is even more difficult. It’s a lifelong endeavor.
  • Start making healthier choices every day, with the understanding that maintaining your weight is part of a “weight loss program”. You won’t be “losing” every week, all the time.
  • If you hit a “plateau”, that is not a failure. Hang on. Keep eating well, don’t skip your exercise or gym time.

Don’t Quit in February.

  • All the good food your’e eating? The days at the gym? Keep it up!
  • This is where an online coach or nutrition counselor can come in – for follow up and ongoing support. Almost everyone needs support to stick to it, and help removing barriers.

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Mix Up Some Fun and Fiber

General Mills recently sent me a gift with all of the fixings for a festive snack mix for the holidays. The recipe was developed by Rebecca from Foodie with Family and uses Cheerios® cereal, yogurt, honey, pistachios, yogurt covered pretzels, and dried cranberries.


You can use yellow box Cheerios® or Honey Nut, but either way you’ll get whole grain oats. The recipe also uses some yogurt (calcium, protein), cranberries (antioxidants, fiber) and pistachios (fiber, iron, B vitamins, magnesium,manganese). All these foods fit into the DASH Diet lifestyle, with a goal to add whole grains, nuts, dairy, and fruit high in potassium.

Yes, this snack includes some added sugar (honey, vanilla yogurt, yogurt covered pretzels) but it also includes dried cranberries and nuts, as well as whole grain cereal. Sometimes it’s okay to deliver some important nutrients and foods that you need, with a bit of sweetness and fun.

Of course, I always like to experiment a little with recipes, so to make this even more DASH Diet friendly, I reduced the sugar in the Rebecca’s recipe by modifying the following:

  • I substituted plain yogurt for the vanilla yogurt
  • I used 1/2 cup of honey, instead of 3/4 cup
  • You could also just use plain pretzels, instead of yogurt-covered, and use plain (yellow box) Cheerios®

The first step is to mix up the canola oil, yogurt, honey, and vanilla extract, in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave it for 30 seconds, the stir to mix well.










Pour this mixture over 12 cups of Cheerios® on a cookie sheet, and bake in a 250 degree oven for an hour and 15 minutes (or until dry and lightly browned), turning to toss every 15-20 minutes.

After the cereal is toasted, allow it to cool, then transfer to a bowl or container. Add cranberries, pretzels and the nuts and toss. Once completely cool, package it up in an airtight container and enjoy for up to two weeks.


The recipe offers just enough sweetness to satisfy that sweet craving, and some satisfying crunch, but also provides some healthy fiber with nuts and oats. Mix up some fun for a movie night or a family party this holiday season (you don’t have to tell the kids there are nutrients in there). Enjoy.


General Mills sent me a free sample of Cheerios®, pistachios, honey, cranberries, and pretzels, along with this recipe; however I was not under any obligation to blog about it, nor paid. My family enjoys General Mills cereals at home.

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Incorporating More Grains into Your Diet: Quinoa, Sorghum, and More

Quinoa Cake with Mini Crab Cakes

Whole grains are part of a healthy diet, and part of a DASH Diet eating plan. They can provide fiber, which can lower cholesterol and blood lipids (fats). Fiber also helps keep you full longer and helps with blood sugar regulation. Grains can provide important antioxidants and phytochemicals (active compounds of plants that have health benefits) too.

Many people thing about wheat, oats, and rye when they consider whole grains, but there are many to choose from. Here’s a quick list of easy to cook whole grains that you can use any day of the week:

  • Barley – look for whole (not pearled) for most fiber.
  • Bulgar – a wheat grain
  • Corn – yep, corn is considered a grain, not a “less-than-steller-side-dish”. Corn provides us with tortillas, popcorn, grits, corn on the cob and polenta – all high in fiber!
  • Farro – an ancient strain of wheat, often used in soups in Italy.
  • Freekah – also an ancient grain – a wheat product, great for pilaf.
  • Oats – great for breakfast! Use quick, regular, or steel-cut depending on your time. Texture and flavor difference, but even quick oats offer great fiber and health benefits.
  • Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa – a running joke with my husband)
  • Sorghum – start looking for this grain to be more and more available in stores near you
  • Wild Rice – a nice option to plain rice. You can mix it with other grains, or add it to soups. Add cooked rice to green salads for variety too.

Have you tried Sorghum?

I’ve been seeing (and tasting) this grain at my food and nutrition conference (FNCE®) for the past two years, but I haven’t cooked with it at home and haven’t seen it widely available in my area. 2017 is the year to change that! What is sorghum? An easy and delicious grain to prepare as a side dish! You can even pop it (and it turns out like mini “popcorn” but without the kernels that get stuck in your teeth).

Sorghum is a cereal grain, and in America has mostly been used in livestock feed, and as a sweetener (syrup). In Africa and Asia it’s used as a food source. The US is now offering it in “grain” form for consumption for it’s natural gluten-free properties. Unlike couscous or pasta for instance, sorghum is naturally gluten free and can be used by folks with Celiac Disease as an optional side dish.

On top of its gluten-free claim, some research shows other potential benefits:

Quinoa – A Great Plant Protein

Quinoa is a high protein grain. It’s versatile and easy to cook with. You can throw together a quinoa side dish in less than 15 minutes! Who doesn’t love that on a weeknight? Quinoa provides nine essential amino acids – often not a common plant property. While I include it here as a grain, it’s actually not a cereal grain, as it’s botanically related to swiss chard and beets! The seed heads of the plant are what are cultivated into quinoa, and cooked like traditional grains. Quinoa is also gluten-free.

Try something new in the coming year.

Easy Quinoa Cakes

2 cups cooked quinoa, (cook per package, set at room temperature)
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 TB chopped chives
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 TB grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup whole grain bread crumbs (more as needed)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bow, mix to combine.
  3. Add ingredients through garlic.
  4. Add the bread crumbs and combine well.
  5. Form into small balls, about 2 inches in diameter. If mixture is too wet, add bread crumbs. If too dry, add a bit of water.
  6. Place each ball onto a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil spray. Pat down into “cake” (disc)
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. (you can also pan-fry them in olive oil, flipping once)

You can serve these as an appetizer or as a side. You can add a variety of herbs (fresh thyme or dill) or other vegetables (chopped mushrooms, minced peppers – sautéed ahead) to them as well.

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5 Easy Ways to Create a DASH Diet Plan Today

Following a meal plan, and making a lifestyle change, is hard. It involves day to day thought and preparation, but once your actions become habits, it’s much easier.

The DASH Diet has been ranked the #1 diet for several years in a row by US News and World Report. it will be interesting to see if it ranked #1 again – if not, I’m certain it will remain in the top three. The reason? It’s got good research behind it, and is sustainable (meaning, it’s healthy, balanced, and you can follow this diet for the long-term). Bonus: it can help with weight control, diabetes, and kidney health.


Some examples of DASH Diet foods.

Rather than put yourself “on a diet”, try working on establishing a DASH Diet Lifestyle by starting with these five goals. You can do five little things right?

Here are some simple steps that you can take immediately to start incorporating the DASH Diet principles:

  1. Add Dairy
    • Try topping a slice of whole grain toast with 3 tablespoons of Ricotta cheese instead of butter or margarine.
    • Make a simple smoothie using low fat milk, a half a banana, and a few strawberries.
    • Enjoy a cup of Greek yogurt for your mid day snack. You can make your own yogurt parfait with low fat plain Greek yogurt, sliced fruit, granola, add a touch of cinnamon or maple syrup.
    • Make your oatmeal with milk instead of water for a creamier texture, and a more nutrient-dense, higher protein breakfast
  2. Eat some nuts
    • Nuts are good for you, and they are part of the DASH Diet plan.
    • Chop some walnuts into a tossed green salad
    • Add peanuts to a stir fry
    • Enjoy nuts as a snack – they are high in calories, so just have about 15-20 almonds or a small handful.
    • Put an “old fashioned” bowl of nuts in the shell on your holiday table with a nutcracker.
  3. Add Omega-3s
    • Use more oils in your cooking. Not larger amounts, just use oils more often. Canola and soybean oil are both high in omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Add seeds, like flax seed, to your salads, or choose mixed grains cereals that include a variety of seeds and grains in them.
    • Try salmon. Smoked salmon or fresh are both good sources. Try a new recipe.
  4. Reduce portions
    • Your goal is to add fruits, vegetables, fish, and low fat dairy, and to cut back on portions of meat, low fiber starches, processed and other high sodium foods.
    • Balance your plate so that half of it is veggies and salad, a fourth is grain, and a fourth is lean meat or other protein. Order the veggie side dish or side salad when dining out.
    • Eat smaller portions of high sodium foods. Salt and sodium are factors in high blood pressure management. If you have high blood pressure, lower your sodium intake. Read labels for serving size and amount of sodium.
  5. Add beans
    • Beans are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals.
    • For convenience you can use canned – look for low sodium, and always rinse the beans well in cool water before using.
    • Use garbanzo beans or cannelloni beans to make a quick dip.
    • Add black beans to chili or salsa recipes
    • Add beans to sandwich wraps and salads

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Small Business: Pay it Forward

As a writer and nutrition communications consultant who works remotely, it’s sometimes difficult to explain what I do. I work virtually via email, telephone, and web platforms. There’s lots of email. I often have conference calls or use WebEx to attend meetings each week. The big bonus is a flexible schedule which can have highs and lows (killer deadlines and massive amounts of research and content when writing a book, teleconferences, speaking engagements or leadership during “conference months” but also down times of no books, and less client assignments). At times, I’ve juggled many simultaneous “jobs” (in long term care, taught nutrition courses, wrote my newspaper column, worked with clients online, wrote books – and my son used to also include “mom” of course). In addition, I don’t think a year has gone by since 1998 that I haven’t served in multiple ways as either a community or professional volunteer for either my state, local district, or national nutrition organizations. (I’m currently Chair-Elect of the Nutrition Entrepreneur Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.)


Since I don’t have one job that I “go to” every day from 9-5, it’s easy for folks to think I really don’t do anything. For sole proprietors and independent consultants, some of the work that needs to be done, is unpaid. For instance, I get paid to write and speak, but I don’t get paid to manage my own blog (occasionally I may, and if so I’ll clearly note that it’s a sponsored post). This unpaid work is rewarded with the flexibility. Many small business owners can create their own schedule, which means it’s easy to arrange time off, fit exercise in during the morning, but also means you may work late some nights, or sometimes on Saturdays or Sunday nights, or whatever hour of the day or night necessary.  I’m not paid to maintain all of my social media platforms, but effectively managing them is essential to my communications business (in the communications world, social media is not just the place where people show off vacation photos, vet about politics, or the pizza they ate last night). This time-consuming work can sometimes be fluffed off by people as unimportant or unnecessary.  For instance, one time when I was venting about my writing schedule to a friend, with good intentions, she tried to encourage me to calm down by saying, “It’s just a blog.”

Yeah, but it’s what I do.

As a writer and communicator, I need a space to write. My blog is the place where I can share my views on a variety of topics, keep consumers up to date about hot food science and nutrition topics, and exercise my writing skills. Sole proprietors and small business owners also are responsible for a lot of things that are taken for granted in a larger office setting. These tasks may include returning their own phone calls, maintaining accounting, sending invoices, and basically performing all aspects of office management.

Recently my friend and colleague Amber Pankonin of Stirlist (aka @RDAmber) posted some thoughts on her Facebook page about small business owners that I thought were important to share. I caught up with her and asked her a few more questions about supporting entrepreneurs in the digital space. She offers some great ways that you can support your friends who are digital entrepreneurs (bloggers or startup founders) that focus in the digital space, while you are using Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn yourself:

Q: What questions would you recommend someone ask a small business owner or consultant if they want to understand what they do?

A: I think some starting questions might include…

What problems are you trying to solve for your clients?

What type of services do you offer?

How do people find you? Or…How do you advertise your services?

What does a typical day look like for you?

What is unique about your business?

What has been your proudest moment this year as a business owner?

Q: As a communicator, we often have to report analytics back to clients, so our social media engagement does matter. What can my friends using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter help with?

A: Share our content!

Liking, commenting, and sharing social media posts are always appreciated! Whether it’s a blog link, video, recipe, or branded content that we’ve written, every share helps. Not only does it help the content creator, but it also helps populate your feed with content for your audience.

Q: What’s the greatest gift someone can give to a fellow entrepreneur?

A: Connections.

A few years ago I attended a networking event where the speaker said, “Each one of you in this room knows somebody that could help somebody else.” I might not be able invest in your business or write code, but I might be able introduce you to somebody that might be able to help you. I know I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today without the help and encouragement from others who have made introductions for me. Pay it forward!

Q: What can social media friends/connections do today to share your work? (articles, books, services, etc)

A: Did I mention the Share button?

When you share a link or social media post, a short comment might make it more personal and encourage your audience to check it out. For example, if I was sharing a blog Rosanne wrote, I might say, “Here’s a blog from my fellow dietitian and DASH diet expert, Rosanne Rust. I love her book!” Give your audience a reason to open the link and engage with the content your sharing.

Pay it forward…I love that sentiment. It always pays. Happy holidays and please share!

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Eating Well Through the Holiday Season

I’m sure you’ve read those “how to survive the holidays without weight gain” tips. Hey, I’ve written some of them. If you have a busy work and social calendar, it can be a real challenge to stay on track November through January. Weight maintenance sounds boring, but it’s a good lifestyle strategy, and focusing on good eating habits on your “off” days really helps (“off”, meaning regular work days, and days/nights that you don’t have a holiday gathering to attend).  xmascandle

There is so much emotion that revolves around what to eat or not to eat, that many have lost sight of how to eat, and how much to eat. Your body is actually very good at telling you what it needs and when. During any time of the year, eating should be enjoyable, and should nurture and support a healthy mind and body.

Rather than fuss about every little morsel, think about why you’re eating (the answer should mostly be “because I’m hungry and need nourished”). Consider these ten simple Do’s and Don’ts:

  1. Do eat when you’re hungry. Plan healthy meals and snack options. Add more fruits or vegetables daily. I push this because they are loaded with vitamins and fiber, and almost everyone needs more than they consume. And of course, part of a DASH Diet plan.
  2. Do eat what you are craving. If you ignore all of your cravings, you are either going to be very cranky, or you will end up binging on what you ignore, or some other unwanted, high calorie food.
  3. Do consider normal, modest portions. We do eat too much – we are served too much in restaurants, our bowls and plates are too large at home, and portions from everything from buns, to muffins, to bagels, to coffee cups, are larger than they used to be, 25 years ago. Toast half a bagel, eat half a sub, order only a “tall” latte, and take half of your lunch home in a to-go box.
  4. Do plan to exercise more often. That’s right, more. Even if in short bouts of 15-20 minutes, try to have some sort of exercise scheduled into your daily routine. Mark it on your calendar. Schedule it. Don’t skip. Do less rather than nothing.
  5. Do have a shopping list, and go grocery shopping so you have healthy foods at home to snack on and prepare. Bake something special from scratch, instead of picking up bakery items. The extra effort involved may help you avoid overdoing it with sweet treats.
  6. Don’t eat just because it’s noon, or 6pm or whatever. It’s normal to be more, or less, hungry on some days. Use your body’s cues; you don’t always have to be on the same schedule, just try not to go too long between meals or get over-hungry.
  7. Don’t weigh yourself more than twice a week. That is one of the most self-sabotaging things you can do. You aren’t going to gain or lose fat overnight.
  8. Don’t feel guilty about eating anything. Even if you just downed a Ho-Ho®, don’t worry about it. It happened, move on. If you had a crazy craving, and you indulged, it’s okay. Just plan to eat healthier foods at the next meal. 
  9. Do hydrate – things get busy this time of year, so don’t forget to hit the water fountain or pour a glass of water through the day.
  10. If you need some support, try working a dietitian, and if think you have compulsive or disordered eating issues, seek the help of your health care team.

Roll into the holiday season happy, healthy, and guilt-free.

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Finding a New Holiday Groove: Serve It Up on a Pretty Plate

Guest Blog by Kimberly Bennett, EMU Dietetic Student

Want to find a new holiday groove this year? And stick with it? Let’s talk about where to turn when you need some comfort and you think only that big magic plate of cookies will help!

Comfort food. We hear about it all the time. It’s defined usually as high carbohydrate, high fat, high sugar, or all of the above type of food.  All of which are present and accounted for in our favorite holiday treats. 

A Harris poll conducted this past year of 2,522 adults found that a lot of us turn to food when having a bad day or feeling depressed1 

And let’s count stressed too! The favorites are pizza, chocolate, ice cream, mac and cheese and chips. Looks like part of the menu for most holiday parties.

This time of year, tempting treats are everywhere, and when a person is stressed and crazy busy, those tempting treats end up turning into quick, tasty meals! Let’s stop and plan good nutrition, and plan to put it on a beautiful plate! 

A pretty plate makes even dark toast taste wonderful.

A pretty plate makes even dark toast taste wonderful.

Try this experiment, I guarantee you it will bring down your stress level and help you start a new mindful eating habit.

  • While you are out shopping at one of those big home stores or even a second-hand store, pick up a china plate and maybe a new china tea cup, too. It doesn’t matter it if matches; it doesn’t matter if your son puts it in the dish washer or it accidentally gets broken. It isn’t your grandma’s china. This is your new dainty, elegant platform to hold the most amazing and nourishing snack or meal.     
  • When the next stressful moment hits and you want to grab a handful of sparkling sugar cookies, stop – plan the plate and put some water on to boil!
  • For a quick snack, try a protein (cheese, nuts, slice of leftover turkey) and a piece of fruit, cut and arranged on the plate with a warm cup of rooibos red tea.
  • If it’s something more you want, plan the plate in a “little meal” style.  Add some roasted veggies (Roast some veggies on Sunday and keep them in the frig, most  taste great, even cold) and a few whole wheat crackers to the snack idea above for a quick, well balanced meal. Or simply scramble two eggs, add some feta a spinach with a side of whole grain toast.
  • Everything that you place on the fine porcelain plate will taste better than ever, and your soul will slow down to enjoy all the goodness. [Oh, and don’t forget to add a holiday soundtrack to your peaceful moment!  Peaceful Holidays on Pandora is my favorite!]
  1. Feeling Bad or Good? Comfort Food Calls. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. 2016;34:2.
TIP – Buy a few more plates or cups to give as treat-filled presents with a little note on how to add the new mindful comfort food eating habit!

TIP – Buy a few more plates or cups to give as treat-filled presents with a little note on how to add the new mindful comfort food eating habit!

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