Quarantining during the COVID-19 outbreak has its fair share of downsides. Among them, one of the things we dread has been food shopping. We are always telling our clients that the secret to success is PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. But what happens if the grocery store shelves have something else in mind? We put together a few tips and tricks to help you survive the grocery store trips and continue on your path to success (and get you as excited to shop as Courtney is in this picture).…
Trader Joes has become a favorite shopping spot of mine. Mainly because of the great deals and the amazingly pleasant employees. But seriously..even with lines and lines of customers a week before Christmas, they were still [appeared] happy as can be. I have also found a few nutritious staples I like to keep on hand.
1. Frozen Riced Cauliflower: Who has time to rice cauliflower? I like to buy a couple bags of this at a time. Usually I serve it to replace rice in a stir fry. You could also mix it into rice or mashed potatoes to add even more veggies to the meal! This takes only seconds to cook through which makes it a great addition to a weeknight meal.
2. Frozen Carrot Spirals: In my experience of trying the pre-spiralized veggies in the produce section – they always have a weird taste to them. Maybe it’s just me! These don’t have that same taste! They’re frozen and just get added to a skillet to thaw. I pair mine with pasta sauce, chicken sausage and a side of broccoli!
3. Steamed Lentils: If you’re catching on you’ve realized I love my convenience items. These little guys are on that list. They’re pre-cooked and are great for salads, grain bowls, veggie burgers, or soups. They’re a great source of plant based protein, fiber and iron!
4. Crushed Garlic: These are in the freezer section with the vegetables. Each portion contains one clove of crushed garlic that is easily popped out and added to a pan. They also make a ginger
version which is great to add to smoothies.
5. Everything but the Bagel & 21 Seasoning Salute: These are the coolest seasoning combinations!
Everything but the Bagel is literally the topping of an everything bagel! It’s delicious on top of avocado toast. I love to toast a slice of Dave’s Killer Bread, top with 1/2 of a mashed avocado, a hard boiled egg and sprinkle with the seasoning. The 21 Seasoning Salute is a mixture of every seasoning I could ever want. Amazingly it tastes great! I like sprinkling it on top of roasted vegetables. It also adds great flavor to scrambled eggs!
6. Green Goddess Dressing: This dressing is a whole foods alternative to the typical
salad dressings you find in the grocery store. The only ingredients are avocado, green onion, lemon juice, garlic, chives, and basil. The shelf life isn’t fantastic but it lasts a couple of weeks in the fridge.
7. Turkey Burgers: Quick and easy staple for the freezer! Each package contains 4 turkey burger patties. They come raw so they’ll taste nice and fresh when cooked. Even-though they’re frozen, they have a fairly reasonable amount of sodium. You can serve these traditionally on a whole wheat bun, open faced on a slice of bread, or added to a salad!
8. A Handful of Olives: Ok how cute are these?? A serving of olives perfectly
contained in their own package. Perfect for lunch boxes or quick, on the go snacks. Olives aren’t a typical snack for many people but with the ease of these who can say no? They’re are a great source of unsaturated fats!
9. Freeze-Dried Blueberries: I wish I could include the entire “nuts” section of Trader Joes but these guys will have to do. Every few weeks I stock up on raw nuts – they’re so reasonably priced here compared to a lot of other stores! I like to make my own trail mix and add these freeze-dried blueberries as a hint of sweetness!
10. Gone Berry Crazy: Last but not least are these yummy chocolate covered FROZEN strawberries! I occasionally like to have a couple after dinner for a yummy and refreshing sweet treat. They also make a banana slice version!
As I’m sure many of you have seen from my numerous social media posts (sorry not sorry) – I ran my first half marathon last weekend!!
I will be honest by telling you that I haven’t always been a “runner” or even enjoyed running. I was envious of people who fell into those categories. At just over 5 feet tall I felt like I wasn’t built to run effortlessly or even at a pace over eleven minute miles. Running always felt like a chore and the fastest way to get a workout in. It certainly wasn’t enjoyable.
Enter graduate school, a dietetic internship, a NICU dietitian position, starting a business, and moving out of my parent’s house. Add an introverted personality into the mix and I was an emotional mess. My chore of running started to turn into an escape. It was thirty to forty five minutes of being alone and collecting my thoughts. It no longer mattered how fast I went or how many miles I logged. With that judgment removed I actually started to enjoy it.
One year later, I was getting in 3 miles consistently with an occasional 5 miler squeezed in if I was feeling really great. I still wouldn’t call myself a runner but the thought of running didn’t trigger thoughts of disdain. Running a half-marathon was a very intimidating idea but seemed like it would be a good goal to work towards. (certainly not in the near future)
I somehow managed to get my boyfriend’s sister to get on board with the idea that eventually running a half might be fun. Six months later we were signed up to run a half marathon in Newport.
A dietitian’s dilemma:
I knew I was going to have to get serious about eating before and after my runs. What better excuse for a dietitian to think about food, right? I am by no means a sports dietitian or an elite athlete but I was able to use my nutrition skills to guide me through the process of fueling for the event. I knew carbs and protein with minimal fat and not a lot of fiber was the way to go before runs. Toast with a little peanut butter, oatmeal with banana, yogurt and blueberries … all of these ideas popped up as food to eat an hour before my runs. I started trying different combinations before my short runs.
Like clockwork, around the 1 mile mark of each run the cramping would start. By 1-¼ miles, I was stooped over with incredible abdominal pain. This was pain that I had never felt before. It took every ounce of me to maintain my composure so that fellow trail runners or passers-by wouldn’t think I was a lunatic. I was sometimes able to recover and finish my run after an agonizing ½ mile walk but by that time I was ready to go home.
Google search after Google search brought up the same three diagnoses. I was either pregnant (as only any medical Google search can determine), dehydrated or I had exercised too soon after eating something too rich. I decided to focus on the latter two of the three. Dehydration was a distinct possibility – I was always horrible at drinking water. I decided to pay closer attention to my water intake and keep the fueling the same. That didn’t work.
Was it really a possibility that I, a dietitian, didn’t know what to eat before a run?? I decided to keep a food and symptom journal to try and find some connection between the cramping and food.
After what seemed like ages playing with the timing and types of food as well as my hydration, I was eventually able to find what worked for me. Carbs and carbs only was what worked best for me and my clearly sensitive tummy. Runs less than 6 miles were fueled with the traditional banana at least 1 hour before running. Weekend long runs were fueled with a plain bagel with blueberry jam at least 2 hours before the run. Like magic I never felt those cramps again.
Given this issue and the horror stories I had heard about gus and chews, I was very hesitant to start fueling during my runs. Luckily, I was easily able to find products that worked for fueling during my run with no problem. Gatorade Chews and mini Starbursts were my go to for runs over 6 miles. A near miss taught me that, despite recommendations, Swedish Fish and running is a choking hazard.
Moral of that story? Sports nutrition is a very individualized approach. Just because something works for one athlete doesn’t mean it will work for you. It’s a trial and error experience.
Mushrooms are members of the fungi kingdom. Although they aren’t vegetables, they too provide several important nutrients. Mushrooms are high in antioxidants – a chemical that gets rid of cancer-causing free radicals in the body. They also contain selenium, a mineral that plays a role in liver enzyme function and reduces inflammation.
Mushrooms are the only vegan, non-fortified dairy source of vitamin D. Their folate content plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair. In addition to these, mushrooms also contain several B vitamins, copper, iron, phosphorus, choline, and fiber.
Eating wild mushrooms that are toxic to humans can cause severe illness and sometimes even death. It’s best to consume mushrooms that have been cultivated for human consumption. When purchasing mushrooms, look for those that are dry, firm and unbruised. Avoid mushrooms that look slimy or withered. Store them in the refrigerator and wash right before use.
Incorporate mushrooms into your diet by sautéing them with onions for a quick side dish, adding them to salads, omelets and breakfast scrambles, or stuffing portabella mushrooms.
- 2 cups shitake mushrooms chopped
- 1 cup baby bell mushrooms chopped
- 2 tbsp. avocado oil
- 3 medium onions diced
- 3 medium carrots diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 cup farro rinsed
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup marsala cooking wine
- 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook farro according to package directions.
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed deep pot. Sauté onions and carrots over medium heat or until onions begin to lose color, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
Add fresh mushrooms and cook until they begin to release liquid, about 5-10 minutes.
Raise heat and add broth and sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in cooked farro and cooking wine. Adjust seasonings and serve
The best part about this diet – it is not actually a diet. The Mediterranean Diet is an eating pattern that is used to promote more heart healthy foods. The basis of the pattern came from the traditional diet of the residents of mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. Through this pattern, we want to start to think about our habits and traditions surrounding foods and how we can design our plate to support the heart to do its job more efficiently. Small changes to your current diet can help promote a more heart healthy way of eating.
Eat more plant based foods. This means incorporating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Add heart healthy fats. To help the heart function better, we want to decrease the amount of saturated and trans fats we consume. Try adding in more unsaturated fat sources such as olive oil, nuts, avocados, and fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel). Think of butter as a “sometimes” food rather than a daily food.
Embrace herbs and spices. Food tastes only as good as it is prepared. Keep the salt shaker in the cabinet and experiment with other herbs and spices. You could even start a small herb garden right in your windowsill for fresh herbs to use as needed.
Limit red meat to no more than 3 times per month. Red meat makes it harder for your heart to function the way it would like to. Decreasing this meat source means decreasing cholesterol and decreasing the fats that cause build up in your arteries- a win-win.
Incorporate more fish and poultry. These proteins are not only going to help you feel full, but they also contain less saturated fats than red meat does. The omega-3’s found in salmon have been found to naturally reduce inflammation.
Enjoy meals with loved ones. The Western diet culture promotes a fast paced way of eating. Try getting back to your roots by sitting down to a homemade dinner with family. Cooking and eating together is a great way to share recipes and appreciate the company of those around you. Try alternating cooking duties so that different individuals can contribute to the process.
Include healthy movement. Find a form of movement that you truly enjoy. The gym may not pull your interest – and that is okay. Begin to explore different activities and see what works for you. Exploring local hiking trails, taking a walk with a friend, or even searching YouTube for a workout you can do from your living room are great ways to get your body moving.
Keep in mind that any changes to regular meal patterns take time. When starting out, try choosing just one these changes per week to begin implementing, and allow yourself the time to comfortably adjust.
Brussels sprouts are a member of the same family as kale, cauliflower and mustard greens. They are a cruciferous vegetable and closely resemble a mini cabbage. Along with their yummy taste, these little guys provide a ton of health benefits.
Each 1/2 cup serving of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 28 calories, 2 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. Their high fiber content helps to support regularity, gastrointestinal health and has also been associated with improved heart health and blood sugar control. Brussels sprouts are also high in vitamin K – which aids in blood clotting (talk to your dietitian if you are on a blood thinner). The vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help boost immune function and tissue repair.
Brussels sprouts are also very versatile – enjoy them roasted, boiled, sautéed or baked.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 pound trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 3 tbsp chopped pecans toasted
Heat olive oil and crushed red pepper in a large skillet over medium-high. Add trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts, cut sides down. Cook until browned, about 7 minutes.
Add pomegranate juice and white balsamic vinegar. Cook, tossing often, until sauce thickens, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Top with crumbled goat cheese and chopped toasted pecans.