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Sunday
Jul132014

A Chip for a Dip

Well actually a cracker that tastes like a chip. Even though Food Should Taste Good is known for their addictive chips, they've come out with a new line of brown rice crackers to join their delicious tortilla chips. I received four flavors to taste-test. Now I usually avoid crackers because I have a hard time not eating almost an entire box in one sitting, and these were no exception. But after eating highly processed classics like Ritz or salty cheesy addictive Cheez-Its, you will notice that these crackers are different.

First of all the brown rice flour makes them super crispy, like a potato chip. I do love potato chips after a sweaty workout for the salt, but they're so deceivingly light that you don't feel satisfied even with all their calories and fat. These Food Should Taste Good crackers are substantial, and even more impressive is that the flavors truly deliver. The Peppercorn Blend is spicy with at least 2-3 different peppery notes. The Tomato and Basil is my favorite that tastes like a pizza chip, and the basil flavor jumps out. The Sea Salt version is a great basic cracker. Each cracker has a jumble of different flavors that are fun to guess as you scan the ingredients. They are gluten-free, made with whole grain rice flour and various seeds such as quinoa, amaranth and sesame.

The crackers are low in sodium at 100 mg per 1 ounce serving (about 10 crackers), and have 65% less fat and 20% less calories than potato chips though they don't taste low fat. Yes I still had the same problem of eating almost half the box without trying, not because they weren't satisfying but because they were so savory good. In my defense, the whole box is only 4 ounces so it wasn't hard to reach the midpoint! It got me thinking about eating them with a dip so that I might stick with just 10 crackers.

The problem with most dips is that they're almost all fat and salt. I've seen plain Greek yogurt used as a substitute for mayo in these recipes, which would offer a big boost of protein and calcium while being lower in sodium, so I searched and found an easy Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dip on the Oikos website that used ingredients already in my fridge (and I do look for every excuse to eat avocado!).

FSTG Crackers: Sea Salt and Tomato & Basil

It's a quick, mash-it-up recipe that tastes creamy and mild with just a little zing. Next time I'd leave out the lemon juice because the plain Greek yogurt is tart enough (I'd added a squeeze of honey to take out the tart). Instead of the cilantro, you can use other herbs or greens like basil or arugula. The creamy plain flavor of the dip fit nicely with the pop of the Food Should Taste Good crackers and made those 10 crackers perfectly satisfying...this could even be a nutritious lunch with its whole grains, protein, healthful fats, calcium and greens. Another use for this dip is to pair with veggiesI scooped some carrots and radishes from my CSA stash into the dip and it was great to not only enjoy these veggies in a new way but also to know that eating the veggie dip combo was even more nutritious than eating the veggies alone!

Disclosure: I received food samples from Food Should Taste Good for my honest review of the product.

Sunday
Jul062014

Weight Loss Without a Gimmick?

Losing weight is no joke. Infomercials for new diet plans and exercise videos make it look so easy. Everyone gushes about how fast they shed the pounds. Reality shows that even 10 solid pounds is a mountain to conquer. Most people who are obese (body mass index greater than 30) who walk into my nutrition clinic say they want to lose 50 pounds if not more. Only a handful ever reach that number. Most lose somewhere between 10-20 pounds over one year. Keeping it off is another chapter, and I don't call it success unless the weight lost stays off. Those who have permanently lost a lot of weight never say it's easy. They realize it's a complete lifestyle change that targets your home and work environment, your ingrained eating habits, and your friends' and family's support (or lack of). If you can get that under control, you still have to deal with constant visual stimulation from media food porn, unexpected stressful events that may throw you off, and societal pressure to look a certain way or weigh an exact number on the scale.

April grew up overweight in an environment where exercise and fresh home cooked meals didn't exist

So if I meet someone who has lost and kept off a lot of weight, I'm seriously impressed. If they've lost the weight without pills or a silly diet that omits entire food groups, I'm floored. I met that person this year in Zumba class, April Lamrock. When I first saw her, my instant impression was a very pretty girl who looked strong and confident. I'd never guess that a year ago she had weighed more than 300 pounds. 

April grew up overweight, not physically active and not eating healthfully. Her parents never cooked meals at home and ordered take out or fast food. She became a picky eater.

When she reached her peak weight at 309 in January 2013, she joined the Tanger Be Well Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She attributes the staff leaders in the program in helping her to lose weight slowly but steadily in the next several months with a no-frills plan of exercising and eating a sensible diet. She was intimidated by the fitness aspect as she had never exercised before but they were encouraging and helped her ease into it. She started exercising three days a week with 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of strength training. After a few months she had worked up to six days a week of 30 minutes each of cardio and strength training. April recalls what helped the most was when the staff would check in with her if she had skipped a day or two. She needed accountability.

Regarding eating, April says that she already knew what to do. But because she was a picky eater, certain foods like whole grains, fresh fruit and fish weren't an option. Chicken and broccoli became her staples. Her main challenge was and still is to expand the variety in her diet. 

Because of her discipline and determination with a consistent exercise regimen of one hour 5-6 days a week, cutting out fast food, and eating more lean protein and vegetables, she lost weight to 193 pounds by the end of November 2013.

April before and after, having lost 116 pounds in 11 months, without diet pills or a fad diet (wow!)

April admits that this year old habits have crept back, along with the weight. She has less drive. "Now that I've lost the weight and feel I can look good in clothes, there isn’t as much motivation to keep eating right. I have since gone to see a nutritionist and she gave me a few tips." She's considering joining a weight management support group and has resumed logging into MyFitnessPal, which helped before. "Hopefully having the cold hard facts right there will make me stop eating badly."

April working a pose; she had regained about 17 pounds here

Ready to shake it in Zumba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I only know April through Zumba class, so right now she only sees me as her Zumba instructor. But as a nutritionist I'm dying to tell her that healthy eating is not only chicken and broccoli and salads. I'd encourage her to try one new food a week, and I'd show her easy recipes that taste amazing. I'd tell her that negative reinforcement ("bad foods" mentality) rarely pushes people in the right direction for long, because they end up forever craving those forbidden foods. I've already told her that even though she's discouraged with her weight regain, even right now she has the curvy fit body that most Zumba instructors wish for and that she needs to let her body find its way, rather than beating it up to reach a personal low or meet a body mass index number. Weight loss without a gimmick or magic bullet can be a long tedious journey with highs and lows. But real permanent change takes time because it's not just about losing weight; it's about making peace with your body, learning to treat it with respect by responding to its physiological and emotional needs, and discovering who you are beyond your size whether you're a skinny minny or have 10 pounds to go. Easier said than done I know, so I'll just end with a favorite quote: 

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn  —Harriet Beecher Stowe

Thursday
Jun262014

Sautéed Purple Swiss Chard with Sweet Potatoes and Dried Fruit

Introducing Alexa, my new recipe contributor!I can't say how thrilled I am that my niece Alexa is cooking up a storm. She already contributed a simple delicious recipe last year Chocolate Banana Ice Cream that I have made endless times and been encouraging all of my patients to make! I had to share this new one that she said she'd whipped up for lunch one day. Is it normal to drool over vegetables?? I've been doing that a lot lately and this recipe is no exception. I signed up for a CSA this summer and received my first batch yesterday with a bunch of beautiful purple Swiss chard. Swiss chard is a nutrition superstar, ranking 3rd in a recent study of "41 powerhouse fruits and vegetables" featured in The Washington Post. Can't wait to put these greens to good use with Alexa's recipe! Feel free to substitute other greens and your favorite dried fruits...they'll all work wonderfully here. You can also add nuts or seeds to boost the protein and nutrient content.

Sautéed Purple Swiss Chard with Baked Sweet Potatoes and Raisins

Ingredients

2 bunches Swiss chard, washed thoroughly, dried, and chopped (4-5 heaping cups after chopped)

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup raisins

1 T olive oil

2 medium sized sweet potatoes

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake sweet potatoes for 45 min to 1 hour, depending on size, until tender (or use a knife to create a few slits in potatoes and microwave for 6-7 minutes on high). Cool potatoes, remove the skin, and chop into small chunks.
  2. In a pan on medium heat, add oil. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent.
  3. Add raisins and chopped Swiss chard to the onions. Saute one minute and then turn heat to low as the leaves will wilt very quickly.
  4. Toss in sweet potatoes and serve!