Wednesday, June 29, 2011

FUEL Better: Farmer's Market Style

Southern as a Peach
It is peach pickin’ time! Peaches are a popular fruit in the South and many have memories of picking peaches off a tree barefoot.  No peach tree? The next best thing is to enjoy fresh peaches from your local farmer’s market.
Peaches can be dried, canned, made into jams, jellies, and preserves, used a filling for desserts, and used as an ingredient in many other dishes, from appetizers to entrees. Although it is peachy keen to enjoy the different forms all year long take advantage of the health benefits fresh peaches have to offer.

Peaches are good sources of lycopene and lutein.  Lutein gives the red, orange, and yellow colors to the fruit.  These phytochemicals are especially beneficial in the prevention of heart disease, macular degeneration, and cancer.  A study in China found that those who ate peaches more than two times per week had less risk of developing cancers of the mouth than those who did not eat peaches. 
One cup of sliced peaches has only 60 calories and composed of 80 percent water and packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Rich in iron and potassium, peaches are the perfect post run snack; they help balance fluid and electrolytes in the body, and replenish muscle glycogen (FUEL) stores.
Is peach fuzz a put-off? Like most fruits and vegetables, the vitamins are found in the skin, so try to enjoy peaches skin and all.  Choose fragrant peaches without blemishes and not overly firm. Fresh peaches are highly perishable, don't buy more than you plan to use. Even when unripe, they spoil easily. Peaches that are greenish colored were probably picked too early should be avoided. Sweetness does not increase after picking, so ripe-picked fruit is always the tastiest.
FUEL Tip: Peaches that are dried, canned made into jams, jellies or preserves are high in sugar and calories - enjoy these in moderation!

Peaches at Fresh Way Farmer's Market

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Perfectionism Trap

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.  ~John Henry Newman

It is important to be focused on your diet and exercise, but striving for perfection sets you up for failure. Perfectionism is a state of mind that assumes anything short of perfection is unacceptable.  Perfectionism is unproductive.

Too often people view health as “all or nothing”.  They classify themselves in distinct categories: on the wagon or off the wagon. The journey to health and wellness is not that black and white rather shades of grey.  To focus on perfection leads to constant irritation, self-depreciating behavior, stress and inability to achieve a balanced relationship with food or yourself.  Your own struggle with self-perfection will ultimately lead to a downward spiral to reality…. Reality is you’re never on or off a wagon yet on a lifelong journey packed with roadblocks, detours, and u turns.   

To fight perfectionism you must first change your thinking. Never use words “good’ or “bad” to describe food, you or your eating behavior.

Use a GPS approach to slip-ups. A GPS will automatically direct you to the next possible U turn to get you back on track if a wrong turn is taken! When you make a poor food choice use the next meal opportunity as a U turn and get right back on track. The longer you wait to make a u turn on the interstate in the right direction the more miles (calories) you will have account for.

Establish a range for daily goals. This allows for more flexibility. Example: Limit soda intake to 1-2 today. Replace 2-3 pantry items with healthier options at each grocery visit.

See and visualize the BIG picture…  Image each day is a basket ball game with positive versus negative choices. If team positive makes ten baskets for every one basket team negative makes who wins the game?  Even if team negative makes a full court three (3) pointer at the buzzer who still wins the game?

Every time you choose the healthier approach you score a point. Don’t under estimate the small one pointer they end up winning you the game in the end. Examples: Make the choice of water vs. sodas, hold the cheese or mayo, opt for half vs. whole entrĂ©e portions, and take the stairs more often than not.

Sometimes... when you hold out for everything, you walk away with nothing.  ~From the television show Ally McBeal

Be patient. Nothing causes more frustration than thinking you should be losing or running faster than you are.  Be persistent.  Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.  ~Harriet Braiker. Be realistic. Reality is there will never be the perfect time to get healthy and you will never be perfect at it. No one’s everyday reality is identical therefore; no one’s every day journey will be identical.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm…. Winston Churchill

Friday, June 24, 2011

FUEL Foodie Friday

FUEL Foodie Friday offers insights and expertise for any who shares a common interest in making smart food buying choices for their families. Also for the health conscious consumer that is tired of the same ole grocery list.  I will be your supermarket guinea pig and report on everyday finds at supermarkets, big-box stores, and the neighborhood health food stores.
Organic / Natural Ketchup
Pass the Ketchup, please! A universal phrase heard around American cookouts, restaurant and dinner tables. In the United States, we pass the ketchup to the tune of over half a billion bottles a year. F&J Heinz Company began selling tomato ketchup in 1876 and by the end of the nineteenth century; the glass bottle became a house hold name and dinner table staple.
Whether you get it from a glass bottle, squeeze bottle, fast food pump, or individual packet; ketchup is much more than a tasty side kick. Since ketchup primary ingredient is cooked tomatoes it is loaded with the antioxidant lycopene. Research suggests that lycopene fights the free radicals that can interfere with normal cell growth and activity, potentially leading to cancer, heart disease and premature ageing.
Ketchup is comprised of few ingredients; however, over time manufactures have began to produce it using high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  HFCS is corn syrup that has been modified to increase the level of fructose improving the taste and shelf life. It has become a popular topic in the discussion of obesity and chronic illness in America. Although, it is has not been proven that there is a link, I highly recommend reducing and removing products containing HFCS from your diet.
For that reason I recommend organic or natural ketchup varieties. They offer the same great taste, texture, and name brands without the added HFCS.
Brands in local grocery stores:  
Heinz Organic
Anne’s Natural
Hunt’s Natural

Whether, it is ketchup or catchup choose an organic or natural variety to increase your antioxidant potential. Please note: Ketchup contains 15 calories and 4 grams of sugar (whether natural, organic or conventional) per tablespoon. Portion control and avoid having ketchup with your ketchup.  Condiment calories count!

FUEL Tip: Keep passing the ketchup!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FUEL Better: Farmer's Market Style

The tomato is arguably the mascot of summer vegetables in the South. If you grew up south of the mason dixon line you have at least one childhood memory of a sweet and juicy vine-ripened tomato. Even though you can purchase tomatoes year-round, the summer months mark the pickin’ season. A tomato is a versatile vegetable making them a must buy at your local farmer’s market. 
Whether you view the tomato as a vegetable or a fruit – either way – they sure taste good and are good for you.

Tomatoes are a happy-looking vegetable and come in many different colors besides bright red. They can be found in orange, green, pink, purple, yellow, and even white selections. Tomatoes make a rather attractive addition to any recipe. Add tomatoes to a salad, dress up a burger, top off a pizza, salsa your way to Mexico, enjoy a taste of Italy and pass the ketchup!
Enjoy an assortment of styles and colors of tomatoes but choose the bright red variety for a nutrient rich punch. Why? The bright red color contains a powerful antioxidant, lycopene.  Lycopene is a natural pigment responsible for the deep red color of several fruits.

Consuming lycopene often can fight against cancer, heart disease, macular degeneration and improve fertility in men. To maximize absorption seek out crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and cooked tomatoes. Lycopene is a fat-soluble substance, and requires the presence of dietary fat for maximum absorption through the digestive tract.

FUEL Tip: Eat fresh tomatoes in a salad with oil based dressing or cooked tomato based sauce with olive oil to enhance the lycopene absorption.  Or just simply pass the Ketchup!

Monday, June 20, 2011

FUEL Strategies for Race Week

During the summer many endurance athletes or reaping the benefits of hard training over the winter and start competing in events. Race week can be an emotionally daunting week. Mileage decrease, free time increase and so do the nerves and excitement. You will play out every possible scenario in your head from winning the crown to facing your worst fear of a DNF (did not finish). But to avoid the later there are a few important things to remember during the week leading up to your big event.

There is a saying about the days before a big race or event. “There is nothing you can do in the week before a race to help yourself. You can only do things to hurt yourself.”
There is some truth to this and it should be used as a warning. Obvious things to avoid the week before a race are running one last long run; not going easy on easy runs; and being over worked and under rested will hurt performance on race day.
Often forgotten, race week FUEL strategies are just as important. Dehydration, over hydration, undernourished, over nourished, or a bought with food intolerance or poisoning will hinder performance.
Race week is not a time to make majors changes to your diet. Stick with familiar foods.  Be aware that as you taper (decrease) your miles taper your calorie intake to avoid weight gain.

Avoid carbohydrate or calorie loading for an entire week. Non-elite runners can gain up to 5lbs+ during race week due to counterproductive, over eating practices.  You may be nervous about not having enough energy or rationalize with yourself that you will “run it off Saturday” but you will have enough and you will not run it all off.

If you have been eating a proper diet or follow a Runner’s FUEL meal plan in you are well prepared. You can NOT undo weeks of poor dietary habits in 24 or 48 hours.

Twenty four (24) - forty eight (48) hours before and event start to increase your daily carbohydrate consumption by 200-300 calories.  This is NOT a buffet. This is NOT at one meal (read and repeat out loud). Add one extra carbohydrate rich foods to each meal through out the day.  

Focus on fruits such as; bananas, peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew melon.  Add vegetables such as; potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams.  Include lean protein and heart healthy fat to stabilize blood sugar.  Reduce dietary fiber to allow for calmer digestion of foods.

The morning of the event, wake up early enough to have a decent breakfast 1-2 hours before the events starts. Give the stomach time to digest and have time to answer Mother Nature’s call before the race starts.

Be sure to satisfy hunger.   The longer breakfast is delayed the greater the risk of starting under fueled.  Restock carbohydrates stores that deplete naturally by the overnight fast Include a heart healthy fat to help stabilize blood sugar and increases satiety.  Hydrate but do not over hydrate. Prevent the onset of dehydration during exercise by being well hydrated before. Consuming to much fluid will flush out precious electrolytes and increase potty stops! At least, 16-24 oz (2) hours prior to start.

Examples of Pre Race FUEL Choices
Oatmeal with 2 eggs
Smoothie with protein powder
Bagel with peanut butter
Lara Bar

FUEL TIP: If you already have a routine stick with it…

RUN Healthy and Good LUCK!

Friday, June 17, 2011

FUEL Foodie Friday

FUEL Foodie Friday offers insights and expertise for any who shares a common interest in making smart food buying choices for their families. Also for the health conscious consumer that is tired of the same ole grocery list.  I will be your supermarket guinea pig and report on everyday finds at supermarkets, big-box stores, and the neighborhood health food stores.
Kashi TLC Honey Sesame Crackers
Everyone enjoys a tasty cracker. A great cracker adds flavor and texture to a meal or can stand alone as an all in one snack. The Kashi TLC Honey Sesame Cracker does all of the above. When you want a snack but cannot decide between salty or sweet, or want a partner for your favorite nut butter or cheese spread this is the perfect option.
Remaining true to Kashi standards, the TLC cracker is full of seven whole grains and contains zero grams of trans fat. The best part to me is the serving size of 15 crackers! For 130 calories and 3 grams of unsaturated fat you can enjoy 15 bite size crunchy moments. Although the ingredient list is a tad long they are all legible and natural.  Sold at most large grocery stores for about $3-4 dollars a box.
FUEL Tip: Pair Kashi TLC Honey Sesame Crackers with natural peanut butter for the perfect pre run snack.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

FUEL Better: Farmers Market Style

In today’s wild world of global trading we have access to most fruits and vegetables year round, however fruits and vegetables just taste better when you purchase them in season and literally days after it has been picked.  Summertime is a fabulous nutrition holiday! Yes, holiday! For a few short months local farmers markets are busting at the seams with endless nutrient rich fresh produce.

FUEL Better: Farmers Market Style

We got the Beat! Yeah. We got the Beet!

Beet mania begins in June and last through October. Beets are charming for their color and flavor as well as for their nutrition.  In the beginning prehistoric settlers exclusively ate the beet greens and discarded the awkward root. Romans were the first to farm beets to use their roots as food. It was not until the 19th century beets valuable source of concentrated sugar was discovered.

Besides being pretty and sweet beets have a variety of hidden health benefits. The pigment that gives beets their rich purple-crimson color is also a powerful cancer and heart disease fighting agent.

Betaine, a compound found naturally in beets and spinach, has been shown to reduce inflammation by 20% according to researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Beets are high in folic acid, potassium, calcium and other antioxidants.

Beet juice is rich in natural sugar, sodium, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, copper and vitamin B1, B2, C and bioflavonoids.  Beets are a fibrous root and excellent for aiding in and eliminating constipation.

Buy beets that are firm with smooth skins and tops attahced. Select beetw with a deep, rich purple-red color. Small to medium beets are sweeter and more tender. Beet tops look fresh and dark green, not wilted or slimy.  

To store, trim off the leaves, leaving an inch or two of stalk above the bulb. Do not trim off the long bottom root. Store unwashed beets in a plast bag up to one week in the refrigerator. Recommend only buying a few beets at a time to avoid waste.

FUEL Tip: Eat beets after a hard workout to help refuel and reduce inflammation and improve recovery.

Sadly, most have only eaten canned or pickled beets. Few have had a fresh beet experience. Nutritionally, fresh beets are superior to the canned or pickled varieties. Do not let the stubborn looking dirty root intimidate you. Here are a few easy instructions and recipe for your first beet-tastic experience!

Olive Oil Spray
4 medium beets, scrubbed and trimmed of stems and roots
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat with oil spray four squares of foil large enough to wrap beets. Place each beet on a foil square. Pinch together and seal foil edges to form a pocket. Keeping them spaced apart, stand beets on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking pan.
  2. Bake until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Peel back foil to expose beets and let stand until beets are cool enough to handle but still warm. Remove skins. (To avoid stained hands, use disposable gloves while slipping off the skin with a paring knife.) Cut beets into wedges.
  4.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Be sure to share you Beet-Fastic Exeperience!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Easy Vegetable Recipe

Looking for a quick and easy way to add vegetables to your summer cookout? 

Simple, purchase your favorite summer produce (squash, zuchhini, baby onions, peppers, eggplant etc). Wash and slice into even piece and place either on a skewer or in a tin pan. Coat the vegetables with Kraft's Good Season Salad Dressing (variety of flavors). Cook on the grill for 15-20 minutes turning or stirring occasionally. Perfect side to any summer menu.

Now, no excuses for not inviting vegetables to your summer cookout.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nutrition Labels

It seems that the more customers try to choose healthier food options the more complicated the food labels become.  As a registered dietitian, I am concerned that the customer is falling for advertising gimmicks and tricks and purchasing unhealthy options with the best intentions. Learning a few key words will help you to avoid label fraud. 

In 1990, the Nutrition Labeling Act was enacted and required all food products under FDA carry labels. Labels must supply standard serving size, number of servings in package, calories per serving and calories from fat.  Daily Values (DV) represent percentage of nutrients based on 2000 calories a day. Ingredients are listed inorder by weight.
First key word is FREE. (trans-fat free, fat-free, sodium-free, calorie-free etc)  FREE is defined as less than 5 calories or less than .50 grams per suggested serving size.  In other words, it should read… Almost free but not really. 
Second key word is Good Source. To be labeled Good Source a product must have 10-19% of daily value of a certain nutrient per serving. 
FUEL Tip: If a product has > 20% of a nutrient consider it high; if it has < 5% of a nutrient considers it low. One product can be both high in one nutritent but low in a nother. See example below.

This product has 40% DV for Cholesterol and 4% DV for Dietary fiber. This is a high cholesterol and low fiber product.
Third confusing, misleading, and deceptive term is light. A light product contains 1/3rd  less calories or ½ fat grams than the standard food.
FUEL Tip: Light does NOT mean low calorie or low fat.
Once you get past the jargon on the front and side panel move your eyes to the dreadful ingredient list. It can be argued that you need a degree in chemistry to understand most ingredient list lurking in our grocery aisles.
Trick one: Sugars are distributed among many ingredients so that sugars don't appear in the top three. Example, manufacturers use a combination of sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, brown sugar, dextrose and other sugar ingredients to make sure none of them are present in large enough quantities to attain a top position on the ingredients list!
Trick two:  DO NOT be fooled by the name of the product.  Yes, the name!
Did you know that the name of the food product has nothing to do with what's in it? Food names can include words that describe ingredients not found in the food at all. A "cheese" cracker, for example, does not have to contain any cheese. A "creamy" something doesn't have to contain cream. A "fruit" product need not contain a single molecule of fruit. Names are designed to sell products, not to accurately describe the ingredients contained in the package.
The bottom line is to become more aware of the products you select off the shelf.
FUEL Tip: Purchase foods without food labels; they are always nutritious without a hidden agenda.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

FUEL Better with Spelt

What is SPELT?
What is Spelt?
Spelt is one of the oldest cereal grains known to man. It is estimated to be over 9,000 years old; approximately 2,000 years older than the oldest bread baking wheat.  Spelt has a mild, nutty flavor which makes it a favorite in whole grain breads. The breads of Tuscany province in Italy are made from spelt which the Italians call farro.
Different than wheat.
Many people with wheat allergies have found spelt to be a practical alternative. Spelt forms a heavy, protective husk around the kernel requiring an additional step in manufacturing prior to milling.
Health Benefits:
Spelt offers a broader range of nutrients compared to many of its cousins in the wheat family. Spelt is an excellent source of vitamin B2, a very good source of manganse, and a good source of niacin, thiamin, and copper.

FUEL Tip:  Spelt’s nutrients are great for recovery and for migraines, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.
Tips for Preparation:
As with all grains, before cooking, rinse thoroughly under running water and remove any dirt or debris that you may find. After rinsing, soak spelt in water for eight hours or overnight. Drain, rinse and then add three parts water to each one part spelt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about one hour.

FUEL Tips:
·          Use spelt bread for your next hearty sandwich its robust flavor enhances old favorites like grilled cheese.
·          *Since cooking time is lengthy- cook up a large batch and freeze individual portions for later use.*
·          Serve cooked spelt as a side dish substitute for rice or potatoes.
·          Combine spelt pasta with olives, tomatoes and feta cheese for a quick and easy Mediterranean-inspired salad.
·          Add spelt flour to your favorite bread, muffin or waffle recipe.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Choose MyPlate

For nearly 20 years, a familiar, black triangle has been found on the majority of boxes of foods at the supermarket, and its significance taught in school to all grade levels.  Last week the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that an American icon, the Food Pyramid, was officially replaced with the new Choose My Plate.
Why the change?  What’s the difference?  How can I use it?
With chronic diseases and obesity on the rise, the USDA needed to address the roles of unhealthy foods. In 1992, The Food Pyramid was released to convey three main ideas: variety, proportionality and moderation.  But, Americans remained confused about healthy eating and chronic disease related to dietary intake continued to rise.  In response the USDA revised the traditional Food Pyramid in 2005 to the MyPyramid.
During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity and chronic disease in the United States despite the effort to inform and encourage patrons to choose healthy foods. To better help the consumer adopt healthy eating habits, the USDA once again improved and simplified the message with a colorful icon called, MyPlate.
According to the press release, MyPlate is “an easy to understand visual cue” that will help people choose foods in a way that is consistent with new dietary guidelines. The new symbol is a plate divided into four color-coded categories: fruits, grains, vegetables, protein. Next to the plate is a circle representing dairy products.
The new icon recommends three simple changes to start eating healthier today; balance calories, increase consumption of certain foods; reduce consumption of other specific types of foods. In order to balance calories one should enjoy food, but eat less and avoid oversized portions.
MyPlate recommends half of your plate be fruits and vegetables.  A four of your plate come from whole grains and switch to fat-free or low-fat dairy products.  As with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, MyPlate also suggests avoiding foods high in salt and pass up sugar sweetened beverages.
Use the new MyPlate to evaluate your own plate. If your plate looks dramatically different than the new icon you can start to make simple changes, one step at a time.  Think progress, not perfection. Start by incorporating the food groups currently not on your plate or reduce a food group that takes up to much space.  You can use the free planning tools available at  for more information and to check your progress.
As a runner, you want to maximize your performance by maximizing your diet. Runner’s FUEL customized meal plans are based off the MyPlate principals to ensure a balanced amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals are consistently achieved.
Runner’s FUEL meal plans and the new MyPlate is a great tool for runners to instantly improve the structure, combination, and portion size of key food groups.
FUEL Tip: Don’t think of the new MyPlate as a diet. It’s an eating plan for life and can benefit anyone looking to eat more balanced, nutrient rich foods.

Friday, June 3, 2011

FUEL Foodie Friday

FUEL Foodie Friday offers insights and expertise for any who shares a common interest in making smart food buying choices for their families. Also for the health conscious consumer that is tired of the same ole grocery list.  I will be your supermarket guinea pig and report on everyday finds at supermarkets, big-box stores, and the neighborhood health food stores.
Post Shredded Wheat – Original
Some great things never change!Original Shredded Wheat cereal has been around for more than 100 years! This American classic is made with 100% whole grain wheat and is an excellent source of fiber.
One serving is 170 calories and offers 6g of fiber, cholesterol free, Trans fat free, and provides 4 essential vitamins and minerals. The traditional squares go perfect with low fat milk, yogurt, and kefir or by its self as a snack. 
Original Post Shredded Wheat is a better value than other whole grain cereals at about $2.50 for a 16.4 ounce box.
FUEL Tip: Beware of other Post Shredded Wheat varieties. Other flavors may be higher in sugar and an empty calorie, the original flavor is best!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

FUEL Better: Kefir

What Is Kefir?
Kefir is a creamy, cultured milk product with amazing health properties similar to yogurt. Kefir contains beneficial yeast as well as the friendly probiotic bacteria found in yogurt. This naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine to provide superior health benefits. Kefir is fermented or cultured milk, and has been used in such disorders as:
Intestinal stomach disease, chronic constipation, Allergic reactions, Control of high cholesterol, and Lactose Intolerance.

Kefir is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It contains easily digestible complex proteins, and has natural antibiotic properties. And for people with lactose intolerance, kefir’s beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase. Lactase is the enzyme that consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.

Kefir can be made with cows', goats', coconut, rice or soy milk. One just adds the gelatin-like particles called “grains.” These grains are what make kefir unique. They contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk protein) and complex sugars. The grains are what ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create a cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer, and used over and over again.

Besides the friendly bacteria and yeast, kefir contains minerals and amino acids. The partially digested, complete proteins in kefir are easier to digest. Kefir is also rich in tryptophan, the essential amino acid known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Kefir is also rich in calcium and magnesium and has an ample supply of phosphorus.

Kefir is a balanced and nourishing food that contributes to a healthy immune system. Kefir has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, herpes, cancer and chronic fatigue. People with sleep disorders benefit from kefir’s tranquilizing effects, as do people with depression.

Regular consumption of kefir can help prevent intestinal disorders, promotes bowel movement, reduces flatulence and creates a healthier digestive system. Kefir is a great remedy for digestive disorders. In fact, kefir’s cleansing effect on the body helps establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity. 
Find it at: Health Food stores, Corner Market, or Kroger