National Nutrition Month – “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”

To me, the month of March always meant my birthday and usually spring break.

Nowadays, although my birthday is still the shining star (don’t worry, you haven’t missed it yet), March offers up some other notable characteristics. If you haven’t already heard, it’s National Nutrition Month, and guess what else? National Registered Dietitian day is on the 12th – yep, tomorrow. I’ll be accepting flowers, chocolate and checks payable to… ok I kid I kid – it’s not all that special considering the fact that no one really knows about it. But I like to mention it because now, with the internet, everyone likes to think they’re masters of nutrition – but this day is to remind us and others that we have the training and qualifications to actually call ourselves experts. So hey boss where’s my bonus huh? Oh you mean.. oh.. okay.

Aaaanyway. Back to National Nutrition Month. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics creates a theme for each year – this year it’s “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”. For the most part, taste trumps everything when it comes to food selection. And as someone who is not shy when it comes to ordering french fries or triple-chocolate-something-plus-more-chocolate-dessert-thing, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that, I promise! – kale chips taste just like Ruffles! Don’t ever become friends with someone that tries to tell you that.

For your average individual who wasn’t raised on finishing their veggies before leaving the table and having fresh fruit for snacks (thanks mom!), I think eating healthier is somewhat of an “acquired taste”, if you will. If I had a choice between salmon&broccoli or mac&cheese, I would choose the fish and greens – but for a couple different reasons. First being that I know the nutritional benefits of that meal when compared to the other. And second, I know how to enhance the flavors and make it tasty and satisfying. It’s one thing to know, but it’s a whole ‘nother ball game when the know how comes into play.

From my personal experience in the kitchen playing around with making my healthy meals taste better, I’ve now got a few tricks up my sleeve. When I teach patients (or anyone really) how to add flavor without adding excess salt, fat or calories – these are some of my most mentioned tips:

 

Herbs, spices and garlic

Hellooo, this one is so very obvious. Aside from the fact that many of these things offer additional health benefits, there is nothing better than fresh basil in your pasta, or minced garlic in your sauteed veggies. There are tens, if not hundreds of different varieties to play around with.

herbs

Tip: When using fresh vs. dried herbs the ratio is 3 to 1.. so if a recipe calls for 3 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, using 1 teaspoon of dried will produce the same flavor.. but fresh is always best.

 

Cinnamon

Most of the time, cinnamon comes into play with sweet dishes rather than savory – like oatmeal. However, sometimes a dash of cinnamon into a savory dish can add an earthy depth and round it out with a bit of warmth. Regardless of if you need a little dash or a hefty dose (ahem, cinnaholic over here) – you can’t go wrong with cinnamon.

ground-cinnamon

Tip: Cinnamon covers up any of that extra “green” taste you get when adding kale or spinach to smoothies – try a dash in your next mix.

 

Hot sauce and black pepper

One thing is for sure, my pepper grinder gets the most use out of anything in my spice cupboard. I like it hot hot hot. There’s nothing better than fresh black pepper to finish off a dish. Same thing with my bottle of Sriracha – but something to remember is not to be too heavy handed on the hot sauce, because depending on the brand – and how much you use – it could add a bit of unwanted sodium to your meal.

Hot Sauce Lawsuit

Tip: It has been long believed that spicy foods may have a positive influence on our metabolism. Studies are mostly inconclusive but hey, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with a little spice.

 

A splash of this, a drizzle of that

A good follow-up to the hot sauce tip – don’t be afraid of condiments BUT – and that’s a big but – be conscious of how much you are using. A drizzle of honey in your yogurt, a swipe of dressing in your wrap, a bit of BBQ on your chicken – those are all fine and good and most definitely delicious but condiments do add the previously mentioned salt, fat and calories – so use them wisely and in moderation.

variety-of-condiments

Tip: Avocado and hummus are two of my favorite swaps for your typical sandwich spreads. In my opinion, if the condiments are going to add some fat and calories, you may as well get a little nutritional punch – and these provide you with a bit of those healthy unsaturated fats.

 

Roasting

My favorite way to prepare anything is by cranking the heat and throwing it in the oven til I see browned edges. It’s super simple and hands-off for the most part, giving you time to fuss around with other components of your meal. The biggest flavor profile, in my opinion, comes from roasted veggies – especially your root veggies like beets, brussel sprouts, squash, potatoes, onions – but roasting proteins is also a great way to develop flavor. Pork tenderloin @ 425 for 20-30 minutes and you wouldn’t even know what hit ya.

roasted

Tip: This Good Houskeeping chart is a good reference if you’re new to roasting veggies – it lets you know time and temp, how to prepare it both trimming and with seasoning. Genius I tell you, genius.

 

Personally, I love eating healthy. Yes, I truly love eating mass amounts of veggies in one sitting. But that’s why I’m a dietitian – I know that not everyone else is going to enjoy green things as much as me. I also enjoy eating things that aren’t so “healthy”, and I get it, that damn cheeseburger really does taste delicious. So my hope is that some of my tips help you to transform that chicken breast and asparagus into something delicious too.

 

Your turn! What tips do you have for adding flavor to foods?

Before Blogging I…

So first of all, thank you for your support on my last post. Going back and reading that, I almost cringe still because I just really don’t like talking about it all that much. But it’s the truth, it’s what’s happening, and it’s my life so I have to really just go with it and keep my head up as best that I can.

Pinterest “Quotes” page tends to help during those tough days.

Anyway, something I was thinking about on my way to work this morning was life before blogs. For some people, food and/or healthy-living blogging has been absolutely life changing, and for others it’s just a hobby that has simultaneously inspired us to become food-voyeurs and maybe workout a little more. But even if it is just a little side hobby, certainly there are things in our lives that have been influenced by the blog community – whether these things are good or bad, that’s up for debate. Never-the-less, here is how blogging has changed my life:

 

Before blogging I….

 

  • Never in a million years would have drank anything green… and liked it.

green smoothie

  • Felt accomplished if I ran more than a mile.. now everyone’s marathon training makes me feel lazy for only running 3 miles.

 

  • Thought eggs were solely meant for breakfast – this is by far the biggest lie I ever believed.

eggpizza

  • Really thought I was the only one getting that excited about a new recipe.

giada-enthusiasm

  • Felt ashamed for the amount of yoga pants that I owned – now I feel like I don’t have enough.

runlegs

  • Thought Whole Foods was meant for yuppies who were only vegans for the social aspects.

 

  • Never knew the answer to “what did you eat on Wednesday?”

 

 

You’re turn! Before blogging, you….???

Time for an update…

So friends, I think it’s time for me to be a little more transparent about the things that have been unfolding within my life lately. Mainly, to justify my lack of blog-activity, but also because I need an outlet other than my mom, or my friends, or someone that just so happens to ask me how my day is going on one of “those days”.

I’ve put this post off for almost two weeks now because I wasn’t really sure how I’d start it all off, but honestly the more I thought about it the less confident I became about actually posting this, so here goes.

I’m no longer with my boyfriend, I’m leaving my job, and I’m moving back to Michigan.

Whew. Loaded statement.

What it all really boils down to is that I was not happy with my life – and I was not happy with where I saw it going, so things needed to change. Big time.

Out of respect for Andrew, I’m not entirely comfortable sharing what has been and is still going on between him and I. However, it is a large piece of the puzzle right now so it wouldn’t make sense to not mention it at all.. obviously. Our separation happened back in December, and since then I’ve really just been trying to figure out my life. Also, we’re still currently living together for financial and logistical reasons, which adds yet another layer of stress, although I must say it’s been working out better than I had expected.

What I will share, though, is that I absolutely, completely, truly, madly, deeply and honestly hate living in South Florida. No disrespect to others that live here and disagree – maybe hate is a strong word – but hear me out: I’ve lived here now for close to 3 years and cannot find my place. Being from the Midwest, my lifestyle is drastically different than the stylish, flashy and high-paced Miami-esque lifestyles of SoFla. Most of the time when I meet someone new, they say to me, “you’re not from here, are you?”.  I’ve found very few people here that I can relate to, and funny enough they have all moved out of the area too. I also am finding that family is more important than anything, and being 1500 miles away at a time like this is so unbelievably hard.

And yeah yeah yeah, I get that it’s 80 degrees and sunny 95% of the time but you know what I have to say about that? You lose the appreciation for those beautiful sunny days when you hate everything else. It’s true, very sad but very true.

Since the only thing really holding me in South Florida at this point is my job, that was the next step. I recently put in a solid months notice, because truth be told I do really like my job, boss and coworkers, so I wanted to give them ample time to fill the position. Don’t get me wrong, as a twenty-something, I am utterly grateful to have been employed full-time. I also know that life is too short to be this unhappy. I’m allowed to make mistakes and luckily I’m young enough to justify those mistakes – that’s my philosophy right now.

So, in just about a month I will be moving back to the chilly state of Michigan. Believe me when I say this is not on a whim, I’ve given this a lot of thought, maybe too much. I can’t say with 100% certainty if this is the right choice, but what I do know is that staying here would be the wrong choice.

Of course, there will be more detail to come in later posts but I really wanted to get the news out because I want to start posting regularly again, or at least more often. It’s been tough because it’s hard to be open and have my blog-voice when there was so much I was hiding and keeping inside. Anyway, this post is all over the place and there was really no better way for me to get it all out there, so I hope this let you in on a little glimpse of my crazy current situation.

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