Monthly Archive for: ‘November, 2013’

Against the Grain

against the grain

By +Janice D’Agostino on Feb 24, 2012 10:00 AM in Recipes

Good bread is the great need in poor homes, and oftentimes the best appreciated luxury in the homes of the very rich.” – ‘A Book for A Cook’, The Pillsbury Co. (1905) Whole grains are a great ally for everyone on a journey towards a healthy weight. Delicious minimally processed grains fill you up with plenty of fiber that stays with you a lot longer than their over processed cousins. As an extra added bonus for choosing whole grains, you get an abundance of nutrition which the body then happily uses to supply energy and burn off excess fat. Many of the breads and other things we eat are made of “refined” grains. Refined means that a large chunk of the important nutrients and fiber have been removed from the grain – apparently, it makes the product last longer on the shelf so they can buy larger quantities to store for production. While it may save companies money to refine the grains, it does no good for your health even if they have been enriched with vitamins from other sources.

Read more: Against the Grain

Tips for Managing the Holidays

Many people make the false assumption that as a dietitian I have “perfect” eating & exercise habits.  I have even had a few people mention they hope to never see me in the grocery store for fear that I may “judge” their cart contents (rest assured, grocery cart judge I am not).  While I am certainly not the food police, I recognize that I cannot teach others about proper nutrition & exercise if I am not engaging in those behaviors myself.  The biggest barrier to living healthy for me is time management.  Without time management I am stressed and stress equals poor lifestyle choices (more caffeine, more chocolate in my case).  This year I am determined to better manage my time thus resulting in a day mostly filled with smart choices (notice the word “mostly” because after all it is the holidays).


Tips for managing holiday (or anytime stress)


1. My number one tip is developing a positive attitude.  This sound cliché but it is oh so true.  Attitude makes a huge difference in how my day goes.  If my attitude is poor, so is my day (along with my eating habits).


2. Sleep and wake up on time.  One is not possible without the other, in other words I cannot wake up early without the appropriate amount of sleep.  No browsing the Internet or Pinterest before bedtime (guilty).


2. Exercise, dance to holiday music…. in other words move.  Many people don’t make time for exercise during the holidays, but it is a tremendous stress reliever.   Mornings are a great time to squeeze some physical activity into your day (note the above tip…sleep). If planned exercise is not a priority (though it should be), make a point to move throughout the day (take a walk break, use the stairs, etc)


3. Don’t skip meals.  I repeat, don’t skip meals.  More times than not this results in overindulging in foods you would not normally eat (or eat in large quantities) Plan ahead and snack smart with items such as apple slices with peanut butter, plain Greek yogurt with some granola, a handful of nuts & “healthy” energy bars. Check out this easy recipe for portable homemade energy bars from Appetite for Health.

If You Don’t Recognize It, Your Body Won’t Either – Inflammation Part 3

How to minimize inflammation?
  • Eat lean protein source such as chicken; cut back on red meat & full fat dairy
  • Avoid refined foods & processed foods
  • Spice it up.  Ginger, curry powder & other spices are linked with anti­inflammation

Sources: Barry Sears, MD,,

If You Don’t Recognize it, Your Body Won’t Either – Inflammation Part 2

How to minimize inflammation?
  • Eat a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids such as oily fish & walnuts.
  • Limit refined carbohydrates such as white pasta & rice
  • Eat plenty of whole grains such as bulgur & brown rice

Denise Cooks…Split Pea & Ham Soup


My mom never made it when I was growing up.  I think she had a ‘Mommy Dearest’ type experience with her mother when she was young, and it scarred her for life.  Which is a bummer…split pea & ham soup is one of my all time faves! 

I’ve gotten spoiled the past few years…being in the kitchen less for work has prompted me to be in the kitchen more at home.   I really like cooking for myself, and friends & family.  There’s nothing so satisfying as sitting down to a meal that I prepared myself.

First step-just like at work, was gathering my mis en place.  Notice the ham is a Niman Ranch. It’s humanely raised, pastured, no antibiotics, nitrates, nitrites, etc, and only 30 calories per oz, so fairly lean.  I don’t tolerate nitrates/nitrites well, so have not eaten cured/processed pork products for some years (not a bad thing).  I found this product at Whole Foods yesterday & thought I’d give it a try.  I highly recommend it!

I’m not so picky about my split peas though…

After gathering my mise en place, I started my cuts.  Beautifully even, medium dice that Rie would be proud of!  I like just a little carrot in my pea soup, so loaded up on the celery & onion.

Then it’s into the pot to sauté (I like the veggies to caramelize so it is a sauté vs sweat).  I tried to get a pic of this step, but my camera lens kept fogging up.  Here’s the best shot.  It’s a good thing I love being a chef…I don’t think I have what it takes to be a photographer.

Once my veggies & a little of that incredible ham were nicely browned, I added the peas, chicken broth (you can use veggie broth), a bay leaf & some fresh ground black pepper.   This picture was after the soup simmered for the recommended time of ½ hour (as stated on the package of split peas).  The peas were still as hard & they look!  I ended up simmering it for about 2 hours.


Now the best part…sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup!

It was delicious! 


About 8 ounces good quality ham, diced to ½”

2 small-medium sweet onions (I like Vidalia’s, but any sweet will do), diced to ½”

2 small-medium carrots, diced to ½”

2-3 ribs celery, diced to ½”

1 tbsn olive oil

1 bay leaf

1 lb split peas

*About 3 quarts chicken or vegetable broth (you can use water, but broth will add more flavor & richness to your soup…and you’ll also need to add salt if you use water)

About ½-1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 

Dice the ham & vegetables.  Heat a large saucepan over high heat.  Add oil; sauté ham & vegetables until nicely browned.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer, uncovered for a couple hours, until peas are tender & soup has thickened.

*You may need to add more broth if soup is too thick.

If You Don’t Recognize it, Your Body Won’t Either – Inflammation Part 1

  • Diets high in processed foods are linked to inflammation in the body which can lead to a whole host of diseases (cancer, heart disease, etc) 
  • How to minimize inflammation? 
  • Eat plenty of fruits & vegetables 
  • Minimize saturated fats & eliminate transfat

The Juice Illusion

I consider myself a visual learner and nothing had made me happier than the slew of nutrition infographs that seem to be popping up on the Internet lately.  My current favorite is from the Pritikin Longevity Center.  Titled The Juice Illusion, this infograph is a visual feast for the eyes.

This infograph is timely given recent research linking juice consumption with obesity related type 2 diabetes. Whole fruit consumption is associated with decreased risk. Furthermore, satiety (i.e. satisfaction) is increased significantly when you EAT rather than drink your fruits & veggies; there is no fiber in juice. Plus many nutrients are lost in the juicing process.

In the spirit of whole fruits & vegetables, I have included this Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette recipe that includes 2 of my favorite veggies. My personal modifications: less olive oil, roast the Brussels prior to mixing with the kale & skip the craisins & pepitas (personal preference).

Food Rules Part 10…Eat Animals that Have Eaten Well

  • The diet of animals we eat strongly influences the healthfulness of food we get from them
  • Meat & eggs from grass fed animals contains healthy fats (Omega 3’s) & higher levels of vitamins & antioxidants
  • Choose pastured animals food when possible

Food Rules Part 10…Eat Animals that Have Eaten Well

  • The diet of animals we eat strongly influences the healthfulness of food we get from them
  • Meat & eggs from grass fed animals contains healthy fats (Omega 3’s) & higher levels of vitamins & antioxidants
  • Choose pastured animals food when possible