Acai Part II

For anyone who knows me, you may know of my love of Acai bowls. They are so tasty and healthy that this is my second time posting about them in the past year!

Acai bowls have become one of the latest trends, but why pay for one at a juice or smoothie bar when you can make your own at home? I like to keep my acai bowls pretty classic, but feel free to add in other fruits such as peaches, mangoes, pineapple and more! The best thing about these bowls is that there is no one way to make them. Customize them to your liking or follow this delicious recipe, created by my talented intern Janette Bedoyan. You won't regret it :)

Gathered Ingredients:

                                    

                                    

Blend:

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Before:

                                           

                                           

After!:

                                          

                                          

Acai Bowl Recipe

  • 2 Packets frozen unsweetened acai berry purée, defrosted slightly
  • 1 medium banana
  • ½ cup (give or take) of frozen mixed berries
  • ¼ cup coconut milk

Toppings:

  • Fresh mixed berries
  • Coconut flakes
  • Granola of any kind
  • Chia seeds
  • 1 banana

Enjoy!

Steps to a Successful Lunch | Washington, DC Dietitian

It’s almost time to leave for work, and making a lunch to take with you just does not cross your mind. This happens to so many of the clients and friends that I talk to. They want to eat healthy, but time and other commitments can get in the way. My number one rule for healthy eating in general is planning ahead, whether its having snacks on hand, having some meal options for the week and preparing lunches ahead of time, especially when we are experiencing those rushed mornings. Here are some helpful tips to build a healthy lunch to-go! 

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Prepare Whole Grains a Day or Two Before. To help make lunch prep easier, trying buying whole grains from the market, such as brown rice or quinoa, and cook a good amount ahead of time. A lot of these whole grains only take a few minutes to cook, and can easily be made as you’re finishing up with dinner or a late night snack the night before. To spice your grains up a bit, you can quickly sauté a variety of vegetables or other legumes and add it to the mix.

Pre-Cut Your Vegetables. To help speed up the sautéing process, you can pre-cut your vegetables and store them in the freezer or refrigerator for easy access during meal prep. Many grocery stores sell vegetables already cut, which makes it even easier for storing! Chop up bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and celery and reserve for sautéing or cut some cucumbers, green beans, spring peas and carrots to use for salads. It is best to store these items in either air-tight containers or freezer bags.

Don’t Forget Your Proteins. Have your favorite proteins on hand and ready to be added to any grain bowl or salad. This can include sliced deli turkey, pre-cooked chicken or fish, or hard boiled eggs. If you prefer not to eat an animal protein, try out tofu or beans! These are loaded in protein and are perfect to give you that energy boost at lunchtime. They are also super fast to cook.

Or Your Spices! Forgo the salt, and add in a nice variety of spices! Spices have been known to have many health benefits, especially helping with balancing the digestive system. Turmeric, cumin and red pepper have anti-inflammatory effects while garlic contains protective phytochemicals that can fight bad bacteria in your body. Spices can easily be added to your salad dressings or sautéed veggies to take a regular meal to the next level!

Have Simple Toppings Available. Sometimes simple ingredients can take your meal up a notch. Some options to have on hand include avocado, hummus, seeds/nuts, low fat cheese, Greek yogurt, to light dressings. These can be added to sandwiches, salads, chilis and more. Greek yogurt is great as a mayo substitute and feta or cheddar cheese can be added to pretty much anything!

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So now that you know what to prep ahead of time, what can you bring to work? Some of my favorite options include sandwiches loaded with veggies, soups and stews, salads with the works and rice or quinoa bowls. Think of some of your favorite meals that you eat out and try to recreate them, and use the plate method to guide your nutrient intake. You'd be surprised at what you can do! 

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You can get as creative as you want with these meals. There is no wrong or right combination of ingredients. Choose the ones you like best and start experimenting. Happy eating!

A Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving | Washington, DC Dietitian

Thanksgiving is easily one of my favorite times of the year. I love heading home, seeing old friends and family, relaxing, and of course eating holiday food!

Holidays are about spending time with family and enjoying food in a healthy way.  Follow these simple tips for a delicious and fulfilling Thanksgiving dinner. 

                                               Butternut Squash Quinoa

                                               Butternut Squash Quinoa

Eat Normally Throughout the Day

Some may think that skipping meals earlier in the day is strategic, but this will only set you up for overeating! Eat a balanced breakfast and lunch so that you eat a more normal sized dinner.

Exercise

If you know you'll eat a little extra on Thanksgiving, try to get in some movement. This will set a good tone to your day, and allow a little wiggle room at dinner. Get some fresh air and go for a walk or run, or chase around some of your younger relatives. 

Make Half Your Plate Veggies

This is a good rule for any time of year, but especially on Thanksgiving! Instead of piling on the meat and stuffing, make half of your plate healthy veggies, a quarter of your plate starch and a quarter lean turkey.

Be Aware of Portion Sizes

Many times holiday weight gain isn't  from the types of foods we eat, but the amount. Watch your portion sizes and you'll be able to taste a little bit of everything. Use smaller dishes to serve food, check your hunger level before going for seconds, and split your desserts! Everything in moderation.

Listen To Your Body

Your body will tell you if it's had too much or too little to eat. Try to check in with yourself to gauge hunger and fullness levels before going back for seconds. While many people go into the holiday dinner with the intention of overeating, remember your health goals and how you want to feel that evening and the next day. Leftovers are often abundant so remind yourself that you will be able to eat this delicious food for more days to come!

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Enjoy Yourself

If you overeat, it's ok! Remember that it's only one day and you can get back on track the next day :) Have a great holiday!

Healthy Eating While Traveling

In honor of my upcoming trip to Vermont, today’s post focuses on something that can be a bit challenging --  eating healthy while traveling. Here are some of my go-to tips when I’m on the road!

Pack Snacks and Food

One of the best things you can do in any situation whether traveling or at home is plan ahead. When traveling I make sure to keep room in my luggage and carry on for healthy snacks for the trip, usually including granola bars, apples, dried fruit and nuts, or popcorn. One of the most challenging parts of traveling is getting hungry and then having unhealthy options to choose from on the road. Having snacks will prevent hunger and make it easier to make healthy choices.

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                      Mini Whole-Wheat Bagels from Whole Foods

                      Mini Whole-Wheat Bagels from Whole Foods

Do Research Prior to Your Trip

The best way of knowing the types of foods that will be available on your trip is to research ahead of time. What options are available in the airport or on the road? What healthier restaurants or meal options will be available at your final destination? While you might not always be able to find out detailed information ahead of time, it is helpful to have somewhat of a plan. I was lucky enough to find a healthy spot in the Boston Airport during my recent trip there (pictured below). Definitely a big win!

                             Berkshire Farms Market in the Boston-Logan Airport

                             Berkshire Farms Market in the Boston-Logan Airport

Split Meals and Treats

A fun part of traveling is being able to try delicious and new-to-you foods, so don’t deprive yourself! Instead split your meals or take some back to your hotel or house for leftovers. 

Use the Plate Method

One of my go-to’s when eating out is to use My Plate to help balance my meals. With all of the dining out on trips, I try to make my meals as vegetable-heavy as possible and then leave part of the plate for more of the “fun” foods I want to try. This could be as simple as getting a salad instead of fries as a side or ordering a salad as the main meal and getting a small side dish of something a little more decadent. 

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Walk It Off

One of the best ways to sightsee is to walk, bike or even run around the city or town you are visiting. If you are on a work trip, try to stay somewhere that has a gym or see if there is a neighboring gym or walking trail you can use. Often hotels that don’t have gyms will partner with a local gym that the visitors can use. Something I also enjoy doing is trying out new yoga or workout classes in a new city. However you are able to do it, try to get some exercise in to improve your mental and physical health while traveling.  This week I plan to go on a few hikes around Vermont to enjoy the beauty of New England.

Have Fun!

The main thing to remember to do is have fun! Traveling is a blast and food should not get in the way. Vacations also don’t have to be made into an excuse to eat or drink whatever you want, but to enjoy yourself in moderation so you can fully experience wherever it is that you are. Listen to your body and it will tell you what and how much you need. 

Do we need to take Vitamins and Supplements? | Washington, DC Dietitian

Vitamin supplementation is a controversial topic, as there are many products found on the market that claim to "help" us prevent deficiencies and maintain normal body functioning. Though vitamins are essential to a healthy life, how much do we actually need? Research shows that we can get adequate vitamins and minerals just by eating a varied diet, yet many people take additional vitamin pills and other supplements to help them reach their daily levels.

In most healthy adults, eating a variety of protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables and grains will give us the vitamins and minerals that we need, while taking supplements in addition to eating a varied diet can actually be harmful, increasing our intake to sometimes toxic levels. This includes protein supplements, which have become quite popular in our culture. If we are eating enough protein sources during the day from meat, dairy, beans, tofu, legumes, etc., often times the additional powders aren't necessary.

                                                 PC//  Lauren Louise Photography

                                                 PC// Lauren Louise Photography

While this is the case for healthy adults, there are instances where vitamin supplements may be necessary and required. Supplements are recommended during certain life stages such as pregnancy, lactation and in older adults. For those with vitamin deficiencies either due to poor nutrient absorption, inadequate food intake, or other medical conditions, vitamin supplementation is required. It is also important for vegans or strict vegetarians to take supplements, especially that of B12, since the nutrient may be missing from their diet. Even is missing a food group completely due to an allergy or food preference, a supplement can be helpful. Across the world, where vitamin deficiencies may be more likely, supplements can be life-saving in low income or impoverished areas.

In these cases, vitamins can make up for deficiencies that may occur. In cases among the general public though, supplementation may not be required and there are some things to be mindful of when it comes to supplements available on the market: Many supplements are not regulated by the FDA and some have been found to have harmful additives and ingredients. Some supplements may be less researched and are unaware of long-term effects that they may cause. Many can have false claims, promising to improve strength, provide energy, or make your hair and nails stronger. If someone is eating a varied diet and taking a supplement on top of that, it may cause toxicity if the tolerable upper levels are reached, something that usually is seen only with over-supplementation.

                                               PC// Lauren Louise Photography

                                               PC//Lauren Louise Photography

Overall, whole foods are the best source of vitamins and minerals in our bodies and the safest way of consuming them. Vitamin supplementation can be beneficial in certain stages of life, with certain medical conditions, or for specific diets, but otherwise as a normal, healthy adult, eating a variety of foods can provide us with all of the nutrition that we need. If you have a nutrient deficiency or are missing out on certain food groups in your diet, it is important to do adequate research and to speak with a professional in the medical field about vitamin recommendations to benefit your health.

Eating to Fuel Your Workouts | Washington DC Dietitian

Did you know that what you eat before, during and after workouts can impact your performance? Eating well not only gives us nutrients and keeps us healthy, but helps us maximize our exercise potential.

Eating before a workout gives you the energy you need for optimal endurance. Without proper fuel you may feel sluggish and weak, which will lessen the intensity of your workout and can mean fewer calories burned and less muscle gained. Eating after your workout helps repair your muscles and replenish your energy. 

So how can you prepare yourself with enough energy for a good workout? Eat to fuel your body by following these basic guidelines.

Pre Workout

About 1 hour before your workout have a 100-150 calorie snack. This food should be a carbohydrate since it is the body’s main source of energy. Good pre workout snack ideas include:

• Fresh or dried fruit

• Oatmeal

• Cereal

• Crackers

• ½ energy bar

• Pretzels

During Your Workout

If you are exercising for a short period of time (30-45 min) you don’t need food to keep you energized. Simply stay hydrated for optimal energy during your workout.

If your cardio exercise will be longer than an hour consider a sports drink such as Gatorade, or refuel with a product like Gu to keep your body fueled and your blood sugar stable.

Post Workout

Eating before your workout is crucial to your exercise routine, but eating after your workout is equally as important. Providing your body with carbohydrates and protein restores your energy and repairs your muscles, both which are important to decrease soreness and build up muscle for future workouts. The best after workout snacks include a balance of protein and carbohydrates, which can be found in these snack ideas:

• 1 cup of milk or chocolate milk

• ½ peanut butter and jelly sandwich

• ½ protein or energy bar

• Yogurt with fruit

• High fiber cereal with milk

• Trail mix

• Turkey sandwich

• Smoothie

Another great way to get in this balance of protein and carbs is to eat a meal right after your workouts. Make sure to eat within 30 minutes of your workout for best repair.

Fueling your body before and after exercise is important for a strong and worthwhile workout!

A Balancing Act | Washington DC Dietitian

There are many misconceptions about weight loss out there, mainly those that revolve around cutting out food groups and restricting food intake to reach your goals. But what if I told you that eating more instead of less could help with weight loss?

Many patients come in telling me about their typical meal plans. They skip breakfast, don't snack and eat a large lunch and dinner as their normal eating pattern. This, my friends, is also known as the Sumo Wrestler's diet. In order for sumo wrestlers to gain and maintain their weight (400-600 pounds), they skip breakfast, don't snack and eat an extra-large lunch and dinner. When we skip meals and snacks, our metabolism slows and we overeat later in the day, both which lead to weight gain. 

Therefore it is important to eat small amounts, frequently throughout the day. This helps your metabolism and keeps you satisfied to prevent overeating at meals. Try to aim for 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, eating about every 3 hours. Not only does this keep your metabolism going, but it also keeps blood sugars stable to help prevent fatigue, headaches and cravings throughout the day.

Another important goal is to make sure that every meal and snack is a balance of carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates give you energy while protein and fat keep you feeling full and satisfied to hold you over in between meals. If you eat only carbohydrates your blood sugar goes up, but if you pair it with protein it stays more stable. Aim for 3+ grams of protein per snack to keep you feeling satisfied. Eating only vegetables as snacks or eating "air foods" such as rice cakes will only leave you wanting more.

The point is to make everything that you eat count and be nutrient dense. Eating a balance at each meal and snack helps you stay satisfied, reduces cravings, increases energy, and prevents overeating later in the day.  Below are some examples to help clarify.

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal made with skim milk topped with fruit and a small serving of nuts.
  • 2 Eggs with vegetables and a sprinkle of cheese, slice of whole grain toast on the side.
  • Whole grain cereal with skim milk
  • Smoothie made with frozen fruit, skim milk, low-fat yogurt and flaxseed

Lunch and Dinner

  • Salad with vegetables, beans and low-fat dressing
  • Soup with vegetables and beans or lean meat
  • Turkey sandwich with vegetables, mustard on whole grain bread
  • Lean meat or meat substitute, vegetable and starch

Snacks

Aim for around 150-180 calories and 3+ grams of protein per snack to keep you satisfied between meals. Balanced options include:

  • Fruit and nuts
  • Fruit and low-fat cheese or low-fat cottage cheese
  • Low fat cheese and crackers
  • Low fat yogurt (yogurt is a carbohydrate and there is protein in it)
  • Granola bars such as Kashi Chewy Bars or Snackwell's Cereal Bars (both include 5-8g of protein)
  • Sliced turkey and bread

Eat frequently and keep a balance of nutrients for overall health and satisfaction throughout the day.