Nutrition Tips for 2010

Posted January 4th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Monday, Meal Tips

As you start the New Year, resolve to find ways to improve your nutritional health. Tips for a healthier 2010 include the following:

-Add heart-healthy foods to your diet including:

  • Beans, peas and barley
  • Soybeans, other soy-based foods (not soybean oil)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel
  • Red grapes and purple grape juice
  • Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts
  • Green or black tea
  • Onions, scallions, shallots, garlic and leeks.

-Maintain or improve your weight: The more excess fat you have, the greater your risk for disease. Losing weight can also help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.

-Get active and stay active! Physical activity offers many rewards, from heart health to strong bones and stress relief. Regular, moderate activity helps keep your blood cholesterol levels normal. It helps lower blood pressure, helps your body control stress and helps control body weight as you burn calories. More vigorous exercise actually gives your heart muscle a workout, too, which ultimately helps your whole cardiovascular system work more efficiently.

For more information on heart-healthy eating, consult a registered dietician or visit

Healthy alternatives to holiday leftovers

Posted December 28th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Monday, Meal Tips

After the holidays, do you find yourself stuck with a refrigerator full of leftovers?  Here are some helpful tips:

-If food was left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours it is susceptible to harmful bacteria – toss it.

-Use leftover meats to make soups, salads or low-fat snacks or meals. For example, use fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise for a leftover turkey sandwich.

-Another idea is to use egg substitute or egg whites for a ham or turkey omelet. Throw in some colorful veggies and a sprinkle of low-fat cheese for added flavor.

-Leftovers should be tossed a day or two after the meal for safety.


Healthy holiday food gift ideas

Posted December 21st, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Monday, Meal Tips

Forget standard gift giving such as gift cards or socks. Instead, opt for a present that is both personal and good for you. From spiced nuts to homemade sauces, you can give something creative and special to those on your list.

It’s all in the presentation. Fill gift baskets with culinary products, along with special baked goods or other treats. For an extra special touch, personalize it with hand-written notes, gift tags and a recipe card so your recipient can make it too.

Have a safe and healthy holiday!

Top Three Foods for 2010

Meal Monday:

Here are my top three recommendations for nutritious foods to include in your in 2010 meal planning:

1. Broccoli: This leafy green vegetable is a good source of Vitamins A and C, antioxidants that protect your body’s cells from damage. Broccoli provides calcium, potassium, folate and fiber and contains phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. An added bonus – broccoli contains no fat, cholesterol or sodium, unless added during cooking.

2. Almonds: These nuts contain nutrients such as riboflavin, magnesium, fiber, iron, calcium and vitamin E, a natural antioxidant. Because almonds are low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, eating small servings of almonds can help lower cholesterol levels. They are considered a “heart-healthy” source of fat. Almonds also contain vitamin E and phytonutrients, just like broccoli, and may help prevent against cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

3. Apples: Apples have no fat, cholesterol or sodium and contain small amounts of potassium, which may promote heart health. Eating apples can also help you maintain healthy blood pressure levels and a healthy weight. They are a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber such as pectin actually helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of arteriosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move food quickly through the digestive system. Don’t skip the skin; almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin. Eating the skin also increases insoluble fiber content.

Meal Monday: Holiday office party survival tips

Posted December 7th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Monday, Meal Tips

It’s that time of year again for annual office holiday parties! Visions of cookies, cakes and candy fill our heads and unfortunately, our bellies. Keep the party festive and fun while avoiding the mounds of chips, dip and junk by offering healthy alternatives.

Here are some ideas:

  • Bring or suggest a meat and cheese tray to include lean cuts of deli meats and a variety of cheeses
  • A fresh vegetable platter with some low-fat dips
  • A fruit tray with yogurt dip and granola topping
  • Salads can be festive and nutritious by adding nuts, cranberries and low-calorie and low-fat dressing options
  • Make a traditional recipe a little healthier by adding low-calorie and low-fat ingredients

To get your colleagues on board, take requests via a suggestion box or board. Maybe you can even try a theme. By making some simple substitutions, no one has to forgo the festivities or their healthy eating routine.

Eat Your Veggies: Fresh or Frozen?

Posted November 16th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Monday

Americans typically eat only one-third of the recommended daily intake (three servings instead of nine) of fruits and vegetables. While a vegetable in any form is better than no vegetable at all, fresh is generally better than frozen. When vegetables are in-season, I recommend they be purchased fresh and ripe but “off-season,” frozen vegetables still give you a high concentration of nutrients. Choose packages marked with a USDA “U.S. Fancy” shield, which designates produce of the best size, shape and color; vegetables of this standard also tend to be more nutrient-rich than the lower grades “U.S. No. 1” or “U.S. No. 2.” Eat them soon after purchase: over many months, nutrients in frozen vegetables do inevitably degrade. Finally, steam or microwave rather than boil your produce to minimize the loss of water-soluble vitamins.

Meal Monday: How to start a food and exercise journal

Posted November 9th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Monday, Meal Tips

Recording your daily calories and exercise can help you meet or maintain your nutritional goals. Diaries can be created in a notebook or tracked online. There are numerous programs available. Generally, food diaries are meant to be used for a whole week, but studies have shown that keeping track of what you eat for even one day can help you make changes in your diet.

A diary should include the following:

-Include amount and type of food you ate. Estimate the size. Online diaries will populate the calories.

-Write the time of day you ate the food. Keeping track of meals and snacks can help you monitor your intake.

-Include the location where you ate the food such as a kitchen, restaurant or in your car.

-Include your daily activity or exercise. Write down the activity, the intensity level (low, medium or high) and number of minutes. Online diaries can help track your calories burned.

Some basic rules to remember:

Write everything down: Keep your diary updated, including everything you eat or drink. A piece of candy, a handful of pretzels, a can of soda may not seem like much at the time, but over a week those calories add up!

Do it now: Don’t depend on your memory at the end of the day. Record your eating as you go.

Be specific: Make sure you include “extras,” such as gravy on your meat or cheese on your vegetables. Do not generalize. For example, record french fries as french fries, not as potatoes.

Estimate amounts: If you had a piece of cake, estimate the size (2” x 1” x 2”) or the weight (3 ounces). If you had a vegetable, record how much you ate (1/4 cup). When eating meat, remember that a 3-ounce cooked portion is about the size of a deck of cards.

After tracking your activities for a week, review your calorie intake and exercise level. If you feel your calorie intake is too high or low or you need additional support to increase your exercise, schedule an appointment with your physician or a registered dietician. Be sure to bring your diary or print out your online diary to review at your appointment. By tracking your habits, you can make small but effective changes to improve your lifestyle.

Planning for Halloween: Trick Or Treat with these nutrition tips

Posted October 26th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Monday

For parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and many others, Halloween week if filled with more treats than tricks. Here are some helpful hints that will help you avoid belly aches while still having fun!

  • Make sure you and your child eat a nutritious meal before parties and trick or treating. If you fill up with a healthy meal, you and your children will be less likely to eat too much candy along the way or when you get home.
  • Limit sugar intake. While the day may be filled with parties and trick or treating, try to avoid unnecessary sugar that day. Forgo the juice boxes or sugary cereals so that they can enjoy a few treats without overindulging.
  • Try non-candy options. Instead of giving out candy, consider apples, pretzels or other snacks. Small toys, such as temporary tattoos, stickers, crayons or coins can be enjoyed by children just as much, if not more than candy. Kids will enjoy the surprise and parents will appreciate a break from the candy!
  • Set limits, but enjoy! If you monitor your child’s intake and set limits rather than restrict it all together, your child can enjoy the fun of Halloween without arguments or tummy aches.
  • Ration leftover candy or toss it out. Save some candy to enjoy over the coming weeks or toss out candy that won’t be eaten.
  • Have your child brush and floss his teeth thoroughly before going to bed. While this should be part of your evening ritual, it’s especially important to brush well after eating candy.

Meal Monday: Tips for eating before exercise

Posted October 12th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Monday

Knowing how much and when to eat before exercise can help make the most of your workout. Coordinate your meals and snacks to help maximize your exercise routine.

Eat small meals three to four hours before exercise. Snacks should be eaten 30 to 60 minutes before exercise. Be sure to eat a light snack after vigorous exercise to help your body recover. As always, drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.

Avoid eating snacks that are high in sugar. Some healthy ideas include the following:

  • Apple or banana slices and peanut butter
  • Baked potato with cheese melted on top
  • Carrot and celery sticks with dressing
  • Cottage cheese with fresh or canned fruit
  • Dry cereal with dried fruit
  • Energy bars or granola bars
  • Granola with low fat milk and a banana
  • Instant oatmeal made with low fat milk and dried fruit
  • Crackers and hummus (garbanzo bean dip)
  • Pudding and graham crackers
  • Yogurt and canned fruit
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Whole grain bagel with peanut butter or yogurt
  • Whole grain cheese and crackers