Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Game Plan: Super Bowl on the DASH Diet

January 31, 2018

It’s no surprise that so many people get off track with snacking during football season, and Super Bowl parties can be the worst. Fewer hours of sunlight, colder weather, and so many high calorie, junk food options can lead to lots of over consumption, just for the fun of it.

Do you ever find yourself wondering what you can eat, five minutes after the last snack?

OK. Let’s fix that! Here are 5 simple tips for the right foods to make your Super Bowl party help you stay super healthy. If you aren’t throwing the party, bring one or two of these easy choices. The hidden trick in these foods are that they are satisfying, quench your hunger, and just happen to be nutritious.

Your Game plan

For a great party, you will want to include:
Raw Veggies

  • Cut up raw veggies: bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, radishes, raw green beans, celery, and more.
  • Fruits: Apples, pears, berries, sliced melons, and, especially at this time of year, tangerines
  • Nuts and nut butters: Cashews, almonds, peanuts (preferably in-the-shell), hazelnuts, etc.
  • Dips: Salsa, guacamole, hummus
  • Cheese (Preferably light): Swiss (very low in sodium), Colby-Jack, Cheddar, Brie, etc.
  • Protein-rich foods: Hard-boiled eggs, slicked turkey, chicken, or beef, chickpeas, etc.
  • Chili with lots of veggies from The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution — Hearty Extra Veggie Chili.

Mix it up.

Serve foods that are bulky along with foods that are satisfying.

Hearty Veggie ChiliFor the Super Bowl main course, the chili scores on both counts! For snacking, pair up fruits or raw veggies with nuts, cheese, or the other protein-rich foods. Or top your raw veggies with one of the dips. The fruits and veggies are bulky and filling. The foods that have the protein and/or the heart healthy fats (nuts and guacamole) are going to quench your hunger, without putting you on a sugar roller coaster that can trigger cravings.

All of these foods are simple to keep on hand, ready-to-eat. If healthy, good snacks are easily available, you don’t have to have lots of discipline or willpower to stay on track. The new style of dieting doesn’t make you fight how your body works. What a concept! This actually is easy to do!

Football season is fraught with eating and drinking pitfalls. Make it easy on yourself by keeping great snack foods on hand.

Learn more easy-to-follow diet moves in The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution.


Eating Clean

June 28, 2016

What does that mean to you? To me it means eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies along with lean protein-rich foods, mostly whole grains, nuts and other foods rich in heart healthy fats. That makes me feel like I am eating lighter and healthier. And I am.

But I didn’t know much about how updated farming methods play into the “clean” equation.


Newborn piggie! And me in our “clean” garb.

I was recently privileged to take a tour of an Iowa pig farm with several other dietitians. It was a revelation in terms of the precautions that farmers (and their resident veternarians) take to keep their animals safe and clean. Prior to our trip, we were informed that we would need to “shower in and shower out” before being allowed into the main barn, where the pigs were raised. After the “shower in” they gave us clean jump suits, new undergarments, and new boots to wear. The farmers did not want any potentially harmful bacteria or viruses being brought into the farm, or if some infection should occur, it would be prevented from spreading from one barn to another. After our tour we showered again before changing into our own clothes and leaving the barn. HEPA filters for the incoming air were another important step taken to prevent bacteria or viruses from entering the barns. This is a stricter anti-contamination program than hospitals use for patients with antibiotic-resistant infections!

The pigs on this farm were kept inside from birth. Why? It is cleaner. Beyond significantly reducing the risk for any kind of infection, it also reduced the risk of the animals getting environmental parasites. Virtually all pigs that are raised (even partially) outside will get worms, mange, and lice. Indoor life for these pigs was another advantage for cleanliness.

The farm used additional means to reduce the chance for illness, by using an “all in/all out” approach to moving the pigs from area to area. For example, all the piglets were moved from the birthing room to their weaning room at the same time; their mothers were also moved out together. This allowed for scrupulous cleaning of each room between groups of animals.


That gloved arm just “pulled” this pig.

My favorite part of the trip was the birthing room. The goal of the first day care for the babies (yes, just like a hospital nursery) was to clean and dry them immediately after birth, help them get a full belly, and keep them warm. We actually got to assist in some of the births! Yes, indeed! We “pulled” baby pigs by putting a gloved arm into the birth canal of the sow. If a mom has 20 – 30 babies, she gets tired and can use some help with the deliveries. We helped clean and dry the newborns and then put them next to their mom to latch on. Heat lamps helped keep them warm.

The food supply for the pigs was primarily corn (raised on the same farm) with other key nutrients such as vitamins and minerals added to optimize nutrition. The amount of feed they received was calculated to provide appropriate growth. Our group of dietitians noted that these pigs probably received better nutritional care than most people!


Another barn and a different “clean” suit.

We had some fun while learning how pigs are raised humanely, cleanly, and perhaps with better health care than we are. If you want to eat clean, pork can make a great addition to your diet.


*This farm tour was sponsored by the National Pork Board, to help educate dietitians about production methods of American farms. I received no other compensation for this trip. #NationalPorkBoard

DASHing Through Thanksgiving

November 21, 2013

ImageWe tend to think of the holidays as a time when healthy diets go out the window. However, it can be very easy to stay on track with the DASH diet on Thanksgiving.

Remember the DASH diet principles: lots of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, poultry, low fat and nonfat dairy, bean and nuts, and whole grains, and limited saturated fats and sweets. Use the following tips to make your Thanksgiving very DASH-friendly.

    • Appetizers
      • Raw veggies on a platter with a hummus dip.
      • Sliced yellow, orange, and red bell peppers, with a dip made from nonfat sour cream and salsa.
      • Unsalted nuts.
      • Apple and pear slices with grapes.
    • Thanksgiving dinner
      • Turkey breast (with the skin removed) is very low in saturated fat. If you cook the stuffing separately from the bird, you are more likely to have a moist turkey breast. (Stuffing the bird means you need longer cooking times, which may result in dry breast meat.)
      • Make a low fat gravy by using a skimmer cup to separate out most of the fat from the turkey drippings. Make your gravy high flavor by first sauteing some onions or shallots with some garlic. Then add some red wine, and boil to burn off the alcohol, while leaving great flavor. Add skimmed meat drippings. Use instant flour (Wondra) to thicken hot gravy.
      • Use low sodium, nonfat chicken broth for more flavor in gravy and for moistening stuffing which is cooked in a casserole.
      • Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes are great sources of potassium, a key nutrient in the DASH diet. Use skim milk and light margarine for mashing, and watch out for the serving size.
      • Fill your plate with extra helpings of vegetables, to avoid overdoing calories.
      • Cranberry sauce is a great source of antioxidants, which are great for your heart.
      • Choose whole grain rolls, or skip them, to focus on other favorites.
    • Alcohol
      • Limit alcohol to moderate amounts to keep calories under control, and help you manage your blood pressure. Women should limit to 1 glass and men to 2 glasses per day. If you have already had your drink, fill your wine glass with water, so you have something to drink without overdoing alcohol. Or have a glass of skim milk to add another key DASH diet food.
  • If you are eating at someone else’s house, bring a vegetable dish or vegetable appetizers, so that you can be sure to have a healthy dinner.
  • Exercise on Thanksgiving Day. Go for a walk, shoot some hoops, or play touch football. If it snows (which it may do in the North), go out and romp in the snow. Create a new tradition with some family active time on the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

by Marla Heller, MS, RD

The trouble with swaps

June 18, 2013

Lots of diet plans promote swaps. Substitute this for that and save so many calories.

Everyone knows the drill. Make salads with yogurt instead of mayo. Replace sugars in baked goods with artificial sweeteners. Use low fat dressings. Have wraps instead of big sandwiches. Indulge your urge for crunch with popcorn instead of chips.

So what is wrong with that?

It doesn’t have you eating healthier or in a way that naturally satisfies hunger.

And, so sadly, swaps often leave you feeling that you have saved calories, so why not do a little splurge on, say, a Frappuccino in the afternoon.  And the weight doesn’t go anywhere.

If you know about all of these swaps and still are struggling with how to lose weight and keep it off, you need to lose these dieting “tricks” and get real. If you want different results, you need to do something different.

And that is the premise of The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution. It teaches you how to eat again. Without gimmicks. No rice cakes. No sugar-free cookies. No air-popped popcorn. Not even counting calories or obsessing about nutrition labels.

Mostly freBlack bean burgersh and natural foods, with a few minimally processed additions for fun, make it so easy to follow a healthy plan. Resetting your appetite gives you a plan you can follow for a lifetime. No more yo-yo dieting. Just healthy eating. With a positive focus.

Add more protein-rich foods to satisfy hunger. Fill up with lots of veggies and fruit. Add low-fat and nonfat dairy for protein and probiotics.  Yes, you can have nuts, which provide protein, fiber, and heart healthy fats. Include fish that are rich in protein and healthy fats. Choose olive oil and other beneficial fats that also quench hunger.

Have 3 abundant meals and 2 – 3 snacks every day to keep hunger at bay, and make it so easy to lose weight, naturally.

Photo © Marla Heller, MS, RD, from The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook

Cereal rights. How big is your bowl?

April 6, 2013

But it’s healthy.

That’s what I always hear when I recommend to a client that they eat less cereal. Many of us overdo cereal. Either our portions are quite large or we are having it too often, to the exclusion of other healthy foods.

Cereal bowls have gotten larger, which trick us into having larger serving sizes. A serving of cereal is 1 ounce by weight, uncooked. It is about a large handful of flaked cereal. Check out my cereal bowl (below) and how 1 ounce appears to be quite small. But when I add raspberries and milk it looks more abundant.

Watch out for dense cereals like Grape Nuts. I have had many clients who discovered that their normal serving size of 1 1/2 cups was actually 6 servings, the equivalent of having 6 slices of bread. And 1/3 cup cooked oatmeal is a serving; most packets are 2 servings. Restaurant servings may be 6 to 8 servings. It is so easy to overdo. And, most of us are just not active enough to burn off all those extra calories.

How many times have you had cereal for a quick, late dinner? Now, that isn’t a terrible thing to do once in a while. However, if it’s your habit, you might be missing out on vegetables and protein-rich foods that you would normally have at a dinner meal. Don’t let cereal crowd out the variety of foods that you need in your diet.

To keep cereal being a healthy part of your DASH diet, watch the size and eat a variety of foods each day.



Spinach Versus Kale! Which One Rules?

April 1, 2013

KaleKale salad is one of the vegetable trends that is so good for our health. Many vegans like it as a great source of calcium.

Since kale is relatively new in our repertoires, many of us don’t know why it is fast becoming so popular. Nutritionally speaking, kale is a powerhouse. One cup (about 2 1/4 ounces or 67 g) has 34 calories, and 300 mg potassium, with only 29 mg sodium, and is very rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C. It has 90 mg of calcium which is very highly absorbed, even much better than from dairy.

Spinach is also full of nutrients. Two-and-a-quarter cups (the same 2 1/4 ouncesThe Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook or 67 g) has 15 calories, 53 mg sodium, 377 mg potassium, but less beta-carotene and much less vitamin C. It has more iron and less calcium than kale. However, the iron and calcium is very poorly absorbed from spinach. Spinach is very high in oxalic acid which binds calcium and iron so tightly that very little is absorbed during digestion. Not only does it reduce the absorption of calcium from the spinach, but it will also bind calcium from other foods that are consumed at the same time.

Bottom line? Choose kale for salads, to add to lasagna or pizza, or to incorporate in omelets. That will give you the biggest payoff for vegetable sources of calcium. Recipes for the kale salad, shown right, and more delicious foods based on kale are in the soon-to-be-published book, The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook, by Marla Heller, MS, RD, with Rick Rodgers.

New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Eating

December 27, 2012

The key requirements for resolutions, whether for the New Year or any other time of year, is to make them specific, actionable, and achievable. Even better, also include a statement about why each of these steps will help you reach the goal.

In addition to the objective, the resolution should include the action steps that someone will take to reach that goal. Don’t forget that the resolution should focus on things that improve quality of life, since that will make the goal more sustainable. A goal to lose 100 pounds by March would not be achievable and would certainly not improve someone’s quality of life, even if it were something that could be done.

For a better example, if you want to lose 20 pounds by March, set your resolution to be something like,

“I will lose 20 pounds by March, by doing these actions. . .”

Have 3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks every day; because deprivation doesn’t lead to weight loss.

Make colorful veggies the center of my meals. They are bulky, filling, and so healthy, while

low in calories.

Add lean protein-rich foods, to make meals that satisfy, and won’t leave me hungry an hour later.

Include 2 – 3 dairy foods (low-fat or nonfat) to boost protein intake, help quench hunger, and lower blood pressure.

When I have grains, I will make them whole grains.

Add fresh fruits to satisfy my sweet tooth, the healthy way.

Include nuts and seeds, since they make fun, heart-healthy snacks.

Follow these guidelines from the plan in The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution, to boost weight loss and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Blackened Chicken and Berry Salad

Blackened Chicken and Berry Salad

The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution

December 20, 2012

The DASH Diet Weight Loss SolutionYes, there is a new DASH diet book. And its premise is to show you how to reframe your eating habits, and learn how to eat in a way that is more satisfying and helps you curb your cravings. This book is based on long-overlooked DASH research that shows improved results with lower levels of refined, starchy foods. And it also incorporates newer research for weight loss that shows how to maintain muscle, keep blood sugar on a more even keel, and improve health.

All this works without counting calories and without being overly rigid on measuring portion sizes. The new plan actually becomes more intuitive. You fill your plate with lots of low-calorie veggies. You include plenty of protein to quench hunger, longer. You get your sweets from fresh fruit. You have 3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks everyday. You don’t go hungry. And yes, those cravings disappear.

How do we know this? This plan was developed with my patients in my private practice, and perfected with my patients at a US Naval Hospital. Active duty military people need to meet weight standards and they need to be physically fit. This plan helped them meet their goals. And just this fall, we invited people to join a group to be early adopters of the plan from the new book. And they loved it! They saw so many benefits for health, weight loss, and long-term healthier eating.

Now this plan is available to everyone. And you can join our online support group on Facebook and join our Twitter chat at #dashweightloss on December 30 at 2:00 pm EST. See you there!

Lighten Up Your Holiday Desert for the DASH Diet

December 19, 2012

I love pumpkin pie. But after eating lighter all year, I don’t want to overdo things at Christmas dinner. So I bring this light pumpkin pie, and no one except me is the wiser.

Low Fat Pumpkin Pie

4 egg whites, slightly beaten

16 ounce can pumpkin (or the meat from 1-lb pumpkin)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp molasses

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

12 oz can evaporated skim (fat free) milk

9″ unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 F. Combine ingredients in above order. Mix well. Pour into pie shell (or into an au gratin dish for a fat-free dessert). Bake for 15 minutes at 425F. Then reduce temperature to 350F, and bake for 45 more minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Each piece of pumpkin pie has 240 Cal, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, and 7 mg cholesterol.

Without the crust, each piece would have 130 Cal, 0 fat, 0 saturated fat, and 2 mg cholesterol. For a low sugar version, use Splenda™ instead of brown sugar, and increase molasses to 3 tablespoons.

The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution

July 17, 2012

The most effective diet for healthy weight loss just got better! THE DASH DIET WEIGHT LOSS SOLUTION turbocharges the DASH diet, ranked as the “Best Overall Diet” by US News & World Reports in 2011 and 2012, with proven NIH research on DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) to create a program guaranteed to speed weight loss and boost metabolism.The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution

Based on long-overlooked DASH research and developed into a weight loss plan by the foremost DASH dietitian and leading nutrition expert, Marla Heller, MS, RD, this effective and easy weight loss program includes menu plans, recipes, shopping lists, and more. Readers will enjoy a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat and nonfat dairy, lean meats/fish/poultry, nuts/beans/seeds, heart healthy fats, and limited amounts of whole grains. The result: faster metabolism, lower body fat, improved strength and cardiovascular fitness-plus the diet can lower cholesterol and blood pressure without medication, and without counting calories!

As effective as the original DASH is for heart health, this plan is just as effective for weight loss.

This diet plan will be especially important for people with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, or diabetes. It will reduce your body’s demand for insulin, and reduce the tendency to deposit fat in your midsection. Yes, that’s right – this plan will reduce your waist size, which is an important indicator of health risks.

The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution will be released on December 18, 2012. It is now available for preorder at discounted pricing at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you order now, you will automatically be given the lowest pricing up until the date of delivery, and your credit card won’t be charged until the book is sent.


Every few weeks we will show you a photo of one of the recipes in the new book.

July 17: First we have the orange and baby romaine salad. This recipe uses blood oranges, which are beautiful. And the flavors in the dressing are so unexpected – and great!

orange and baby romaine salad

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