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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


8 DASH Diet Resolutions Make It Easy

January 1, 2014

The DASH Diet BountyWay back when the DASH diet was considered to be only for the research setting, I decided to make it easier to follow. DASH was too important to health; it couldn’t just sit on the shelf. So I created an actionable plan that almost anyone could put into action in their real life.

Ready for your 8 simple resolutions to get you on the DASH diet path?

1. Have 3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks everyday. Deprivation doesn’t lead to lasting weight loss.

2. Make colorful veggies the center of your meal. They are bulky, filling, and healthy, while low in calories.

3. Add lean protein-rich foods to make a meal that satisfies and won’t leave you hungry an hour later.

4.Choose 2 – 3 dairy foods that are low-fat or nonfat, every day. Dairy boosts protein and helps quench hunger.

5. Add fresh fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth the healthy way.

6. Nuts, beans, and seeds make fun snacks that love your heart and help you lose weight.

7. When you have grains, make them whole grains.

8. Watch your waistline shrink. You are improving your health as you lose weight, with these healthy resolutions.

The DASH Diet Weight Loss SolutionThe DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution is based on these rules. And while it helps you lose weight, DASH makes you healthier. DASH is proven to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers.

DASH for it!

Skip the Holiday Weight Gain and Enjoy the Party!

December 12, 2012


Surviving the holiday parties

This year you will get through the holiday season, without the holiday weight gain and without deprivation! Use America’s healthiest diet, the DASH plan, to keep yourself on track

It can seem challenging to stay on track with healthy eating during the holiday period. No one wants to miss out on all their favorite holiday treats. So we won’t ask you to.

How can we find a way to accommodate both of our very important, but conflicting objectives?

Compromise! You are going to learn how to load up on healthy foods during the day so that you can skim through your holiday party without sinking into holiday gluttony.

The key DASH foods are fresh fruits and veggies, light dairy foods, nuts. These are paired up with lean meats, fish, poultry, and other protein-rich foods, whole grains, and heart healthy fats. And you are not going to use your old trick of starving yourself all day! Instead we will feed you all day.


Yes, you do want a breakfast. Make it protein-rich. A couple of hard-boiled eggs, or a microwave scramble will keep you feeling full longer into the day and fire up your metabolism. Pair it with some berries, and a latte or hot chocolate, and you will start your day with huge energy. This could be especially helpful if you were at a party the night before.


Healthy snacks can keep your hunger under control, and help you avoid the trap of pigging out on office holiday cookies and candy. You do want to stock up your office fridge with light yogurt, fruit, cut up raw veggies, light individually packaged cheeses, and peanut butter. Keep it in your own insulated bag in the fridge, if you have coworkers who are likely to pilfer your healthy foods. Then, at your desk, keep some nuts in storage. Pull together a quick snack by combining something bulky, like the veggies or fresh fruit, with something protein-rich like the yogurt, cheese, nuts, or PB. This surprising trick is so easy, and makes it simple to have healthy, DASH-friendly snacks. The combination of bulky and satisfying protein-foods quenches hunger better than either of them alone.


During the holiday season, focus on veggie-laden salads. If you don’t have access to a store or restaurant with a salad bar, bring your own. The more types of veggies, the healthier. Add grated carrots, red cabbage, cukes, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, peas. Then add in some protein-rich foods like tuna, grilled chicken strips, egg slices, garbanzo beans, and light cheese.  Top with an oil and vinegar or vinaigrette dressing. (Although if you are bringing it from home, don’t dress it until you are ready to eat. No one likes soggy salads.) Use fruit or light yogurt for something sweet at the end of the meal.

More Snacks

Using our earlier suggestions, have an afternoon snack and one before you go out to your party. If you are at home before going out, try some fresh veggies dipped in guacamole. That will take the edge off your hunger, and help with slowing alcohol absorption later at your event.

The Party

Now that you have quenched your hunger and know that you have eaten all your key DASH foods, you can enjoy the party. Cocktails? Try to avoid the sugary or creamy ones. And alternate with water. One glass of wine, one glass of water. Appetizers? Scope out the selection and go for the ones that you really love. Because you are not starving, you can easily avoid overdoing. Then choose the very best dessert. Savor it and linger while eating it.

By not depriving yourself, and by loading up on lots of filling and satisfying foods earlier in the day, you will have found the holiday party solution with the DASH diet! And, come January, you can get a jump-start on a healthier you, with the new book, The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution.


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

Don’t make small changes.

January 9, 2010

Don’t make small changes.  Make big changes – to see results.

Small changes may be easier to make, but they can lead to frustration and hurt your motivation to keep going.

Big changes help you see quicker results, which increase your likelihood of continuing to follow through with your new lifestyle changes.

The DASH diet is a great example of how this works. The DASH diet is based on a plan that is rich in fruits and vegetables, low fat or non-fat dairy, and beans/nuts. Suppose you decide to just start with adding more fruits and vegetables. What will happen to your blood pressure? Most likely (based on the research), nothing.

The blood pressure-lowering effects of the DASH diet only occurred in people following the entire plan.

Learn more at

I love to cook

December 20, 2008

My husband and I love to cook. But we were hampered by an out-of-date kitchen. So we decided to go down to the studs and the rafters. Everything had to go. If you want to see the progress, go to For recipes concocted in the old kitchen, see

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