Crazy for Cumbers Salad

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Cucumbers

A cucumber is one veggie that appeals to most people, even kids!

This low-calorie favorite is great for much-needed hydration especially this time of year–it is 96 percent water!

The water and combined nutrients in cucumbers also help to flush toxins out of your system. Research indicates that they can even help dissolve kidney stones.

Cucumbers are great for your heart too–the sterols in cucumber help to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.

And don’t forget how they help your pearly whites—read this blog where I talk about foods that literally clean your teeth and cucumbers are one of them!

Here’s the perfect summer salad for cucumber lovers!

Crazy for Cucumbers Salad

Ingredients:
– 2 cucumbers, very thinly sliced
– 1 red onion, very thinly sliced
– 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt
– 1 teaspoon of honey
– 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

Directions:
– Mix cucumbers and onions together.

– Mix the remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl, whisking them well.

– Toss the cucumbers and onions into the dressing mixture; chill for at least a half hour and serve!

Seven Tips for Vegetarians

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While my diet is pretty plant-based, I am not a vegetarian. Many of my clients are vegetarians or have children who have recently become vegetarian.  Some complain that vegetarian diets get boring or do not feel filling; parents show concern that their veggie kids aren’t getting the nutrients they need.

Let me dive into some tips that can help you maintain a vegetarian diet that is fun and healthy!

  1. Be sure to get enough protein

My number-one question for all vegetarian diets is: Where do you get your protein from? If you are a vegetarian and feel sluggish at all, it may just be that you are not getting enough protein. Protein feeds your muscles and your blood.  Consider it the fuel that keeps you moving.

Sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, tofu, tempeh, and some whole grains like quinoa. Low-fat dairy (Milk, cheese, Greek yogurt for example) and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

You may have heard that you need to eat a combination of proteins in each meal to get complete proteins, but that is not true as long as you have a decent amount of protein in every meal.

  1. Eat the colors of the rainbow

One way to assure you are getting enough nutrients is to eat as many colors of fruits and veggies as possible. This blog goes into detail of what nutrients are found in each color.vege-1-1

  1. Try a new recipe each week

You don’t need to eat a salad every day to be a vegetarian. There are so many fantastic vegetarian recipes out there. Hop on to Google or Pinterest and you will certainly find hundreds of easy recipes to try!

  1. Be careful with refined flour and sugar

It’s so easy to become a junk food vegetarian. Try not to rely too heavily on boxed food; the refined flour and sugar can spike your blood sugar and cause inflammation throughout your body.

  1. Check out fortified foods

While I just told you to be careful about packaged food; there are some healthy options like whole-grain bread. Look for foods that are fortified with vitamins to give you a boost in nutrients. If you are lacto-ovo vegetarian, milk is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

  1. Pump some iron

Sadly, your body doesn’t absorb iron from plants as well as it does from menuts2at so it is essential that you get plenty of high-iron vegetarian foods in your diet such as beans and legumes, dried fruits, molasses green vegetables, and whole grains. Many cereals are fortified with iron just make sure that the cereal of choice is low in sugar (5 grams or less) and high in fiber ( 4 grams or more) as well.

  1. Consider a vitamin B-12 supplement

Getting enough B-12 is very difficult in a vegetarian diet. I highly encourage vegetarians to take a B-12 supplement.

If you have any questions about a vegetarian or vegan diet, please feel free to email our team and we’ll help you out!

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

 

 

Nutrition Advice for the Sandwich Generation

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Each year, more adults face the difficulty of having to take care of their parents in addition to their children all within one household. This is known as the sandwich generation. How can you meet the varying nutritional needs of everyone without going crazy?! I’ve got you covered!

Focus on hydration for everyone. Water is the key to nutrient absorption. It flushes out toxins for the times when convenient meals like pizza “pop up” with your busy schedule. It increases energy and keeps the skin clear too (great for anti-aging and teen acne). Make water fun by infusing it with cucumbers, mint, lemon, lime, or strawberries!

Have a salad a day. Green veggies are so important for the health of all your family members! It’s not too hard to throw together a salad with greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and carrots. Hello antioxidants!

If the kiddos don’t like salads, slice up some of the cucumbers and carrots and let them dip them in ranch dressing or hummus. If you use cherry or grape tomatoes in your salads, those are easy for dipping too.

Keep a fruit bowl. Kids, elderly adults, and busy working moms and dads get hungry at different times. Keep a colorful fruit bowl so everyone can help themselves to something healthy between meals. Include apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, and specific seasonal fruits (peaches and nectarines in summer months and pears in fall months).

Don’t skip breakfast! Mornings can be hectic for the sandwich generation. Breakfast is critical for setting the stage for a healthy day (and life really). And kids need breakfast to be able to concentrate in school. Several studies have proven that consistent breakfasts increase children’s academic performance and behavior in school. Keep easy breakfast options on hand. Greek yogurt with fruit and a low-sugar granola is an easy breakfast option. Whole grain toast with banana and nut butter is a yummy option as well.

Keep the meat lean! No offense against our parents’ generation, but many of them favor fatty meats like roasts, chicken thighs, burgers, and such. Get them hooked on lean meats! Use chicken breast and ground turkey often. Try to include fish as much as possible—fish consumption helps with heart health and may also help to combat Alzheimer’s Disease. Red meat is okay sometimes—just choose lean cuts like sirloin and with ground beef, your best option is 95/5, which means that 95 percent of the meat is lean.

Try to have sit-down family meals a couple times a week. It’s hard for everyone to eat together with busy schedules. Meals together keep family members connected and that’s so important with so many people under one roof. It lessens the stress and keeps everyone engaged!

Don’t let the sandwich generation stress you out! There are easy ways to stay healthy and happy. Take a deep breath and try implementing some of my suggestions. It will get easier, I promise!

 

 

Celebrate Blueberry Month with Me

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Yay for blueberries! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, July is Blueberry Month. Go pick some at a local you-pick farm! Freeze a whole bunch of them and then you will have nutrient-dense blueberries to use for months ahead. Here are just some of the reasons that I love blueberries.

Blueberries contain more antioxidants than almost any other food. In fact, they help protect against oxidative damage. What’s that you ask? It’s a process that takes place every day at the cellular level; in short, it’s a fancy way to say “aging.” So, consider blueberries a great anti-aging food choice.

I have a great example of how blueberries counteract oxidative damage. In a 2007 study, 168 research subjects were instructed to drink one liter (34 ounces) of a mixture of blueberry and apple juice, every day. At the end of the study, oxidative DNA damage due to free radicals was reduced by 20 percent.

Oxidative damage to the brain creates problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s. A recent study examined elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers gave each subject blueberry juice every day. After 12 weeks, they had seen improvements in several markers of brain function

These antioxidants that I speak of also help to lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, making blueberries an awesome choice for your heart health.

Also, blueberries contain salicylic acid—the natural version of aspirin. Salicylic acid is known to thin the blood and reduce pain. I know so many older adults who take an aspirin a day for their heart. I think that making good food choices is the best way to protect your heart.

Blueberries are also high in lutein; this phytonutrient is particularly helpful when it comes to your vision.

Aging isn’t just marked by wrinkles on our skin; our organs age as well.

We often forget of all of the amazing things that are happening to our body on a cellular level and I think it’s so awesome that we can make good things happen to our cells with our food choices. One thing is for sure, blueberries will always be in my food repertoire!

Blueberries are a superfood choice to keep you energized and young inside and out!

 

How to Protect your Pearly Whites with Nutrition

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As you grow older, maintaining healthy teeth and gums becomes imperative.  Nutrition is as important as flossing and brushing—it really is. And it’s not just about avoiding sugary food and drinks; it’s also important to eat foods that promote healthy gums and teeth. Do you want to know what they are? Here are my top recommendations!

  • Detergent foods

Am I asking you to put detergent in your teeth?  Of course not!  Dentists refer to foods that have a pretty low pH, are filled to the brim with water and fiber and have a crunchy texture as “detergent foods.”  These foods literally clean your teeth. Some great examples include cucumbers, celery, carrots, and apples. Eat them at the end of a meal to help clean those gems in your mouth!

  • High-calcium and phosphorous foods

Calcium is as awesome for your teeth as it is for your bones. Calcium and phosphorus is a dominant duo for your teeth. These two minerals can actually re-mineralize your teeth enamel. In fact, tooth enamel is almost entirely composed of calcium phosphate (Calcium + Phosphorous as you may remember from chemistry class).

Some great high-calcium/high phosphorous food choices include: nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, dairy products, and fish bones (euu…gross…I know, but canned salmon is a great example…just crush the bones in it and you have an awesome calcium phosphorus action happening).

  • High vitamin C foods

Vitamin C manufactures collagen so it is an excellent nutrient for keeping your gums healthy. The best vitamin c choices include strawberries, kiwi, oranges, red peppers, and kale.

  • Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic are natural anti-bacterial agents. Sautee your meat and veggies with garlic. Add both garlic and onions to soup. Red onions are delicious in salads. These two rock stars help prevent the leading cause of tooth decay, plaque buildup.

  • Green tea

Green tea is the ultimate powerhouse for your teeth. It lowers the acidity in your saliva (preventing plaque buildup), is a natural anti-inflammatory (very helpful for maintaining healthy gums), and it kills the microbes that make your mouth stink (so it’s a natural breath freshener).

There have been several studies indicating how incredible green tea is for your teeth. A recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology studied 940 men between the ages of 49 and 59 and discovered that the men who drank green tea regularly had far better oral health than those who did not.

Try applying at least a couple of these recommendations between now and your next dental checkup—I bet your dentist will see improvement!

 

Celebrate Cherry Season

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Cherry season is upon us in Central New York and I love it! Cherries are the perfect snack and they are a nutrition-boosting compliment to every meal. Add them to your yogurt, smoothie, or oatmeal for breakfast. Toss them in a salad for lunch or dinner. The best news about cherries is their health benefits. In fact, they are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Here are a few reasons why.

Cherries can help with weight-loss efforts.

Cherries are a high-fiber food, which is always good for weight-loss because fiber keeps us fuller longer. A lab study actually proved that cherries can in fact help prevent weight gain. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Food, rats that were given tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight as rats consuming the same diet without cherries. The cherry powder intake was associated with lower lipid (fat) levels in the blood, percentage fat mass and abdominal fat weight as well.

Cherries can help you sleep better.

We could all use some good slumber, right? Well, cherries can help with this! Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. Very few foods contain melatonin. Our bodies can manufacture a little bit of it through the pineal gland in our brain—consuming cherries can give us some extra melatonin to make sure we sleep soundly.

Cherries can increase your energy levels.

Of course better sleep can help with better energy levels, but there’s something else about cherries that can help boost your energy. The natural sugar and water content of cherries along with a plethora of antioxidants will no-doubt help prevent any energy dips you might experience during the day.

Cherries can protect against Diabetes

A lot of people with diabetes deter from fruit because of the sugar content. Cherries have a low glycemic index though so they don’t sky-rocket your sugar levels. Cherries have a glycemic index (GI) of 22 compared to say grapes that have a GI of 46, strawberries that have a GI of 41 or apples that have a GI of 39.

Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain.

Hold off on the ibuprofen please! Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain! A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that cherries helped prevent post workout pain in runners. Another study conducted at the Osteoarthritis Research Center found that cherry consumption greatly reduced the pain experienced by patients with osteoarthritis.

Cherries can protect your heart.

High in antioxidants and fiber, it should come as no surprise that cherries can protect your heart. The potassium content of cherries is particularly healthy for the heart by helping to regulate blood pressure,

Get yourself to the market and get some cherries today. They’re in season right now in Central New York through the month of July! And for a special treat, dip them in dark chocolate, which is also high in antioxidants!

By Kelly Springer RD, MS, CDN

Get your Engine Revin’ with Nutrition

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Yogurt I would have to say, weight-loss aside, the number one complaint I hear from my clients is tiredness. So many adults feel as though their energy is absolutely zapped. If you are sleep-deprived, of course you need to address that! Here are some nutrition-add-ons that can also help!

1.) Breakfast should be your heartiest meal of the day.

You have heard this time and time again; EAT BREAKFAST. When you have a breakfast that includes healthy fats, protein, and perhaps some complex carbs; this will help you sustain energy. It sets a great foundation for your day. Here are some ideas:

  • Omlette with some roasted potatoes (roast them the night before to save time)
  • Greek Yogurt with granola
  • Whole grain toast with avocado
  • Even pb + J on whole grain bread.

2.) Watch the sugar and caffeine consumption!

Keep an eye on how much sugar you intake. Sugar depletes nutrients and can result in low energy! Caffeine may increase your alertness, but definitely try to refrain from caffeine after 2:00 p.m. It can cause insomnia…and may even decrease REM sleep. In other words, it can affect your sleep even if you don’t realize it.

3.)Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

I can’t emphasize this enough. Water actually boosts your energy. It is crucial in the production of energy molecules. I often tell caffeine addicts to try a glass of water before reaching for their third cup of coffee of the day! If water bores you, consider infusing it with lemon, lime, or mint!

4.) Ditch the Diet.

Some people get confused hearing a dietitian advising not to diet. I’m all about eating REAL foods, NOT depriving yourself of foods. When you deprive yourself, your energy drops drastically and when your energy drops, guess what? Your body’s natural reaction is to grab something that will boost your energy rather quickly (sugary, refined foods usually) and those create a major dip in energy soon after…it’s a downward spiral!

5.)Beware of Booze!

Many people, myself included, like a nice glass of wine. For others, it may be a cocktail or a couple of beers. However, if you consume too much, it will cause fatigue. It can interfere with REM sleep just like caffeine. Alcohol also inhibits absorption of energy-boosting  B-vitamins.

Get some sleep, apply these tips, and watch your energy soar! When you feel more energetic and alive, everything in life seems brighter. Energy is essential in order to enjoy all life has to offer!