Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Choice is Yours...Fast Food on the Go!

I am moving this weekend & it has just been crazy between work, packing, soccer games, closing on the house, cleaning the house...that finding time to eat has been trivial at times.  Now that our dishes are packed up and we have about 72 hours of insanity, we are going to have to have a few meals on the go. 

There are ways to eat at fast food restaurants without feeling like you've ingested a tire with a glass of grease.  Hands down, my family & I prefer Subway.  It is inexpensive, it is fresh, and it is delicious.  My husband and I split a $5.00 footlong, typically a chicken breast sub loaded with vegetables.  Every one seems to have their favorites!

Here are some tips when choosing meals at fast food restaurants:
  • Downsize your meals.  As I mentioned in my previous post on portion control, many times the kid menu options are an adult serving, and less expensive!
  • Choose water.  Water is free at most restaurants.  When you are moving, going from sports or activities/events with your children, or just had a hectic day at work, do your body a favor and keep it hydrated!  Your body will love you and you will not feel as bloated.
  • Be mindful of your meal. are in a hurry and you are busy.  If you don't take time to let your stomach tell your brain that it is full, then you are likely to over-eat.  Take some deep breaths and give yourselves at least a minimum of 20 minutes from the first bite to the last bite to finish your meal. 
  • Look at the way your meal is cooked.  If it is deep-fryed, crispy, or smothered in a cream sauce, then it is not the healthier choice.  Choose grilled or baked items, as well as items with vegetables and leaner meats.
  • Watch the condiments & plan ahead.  Mayonnaise can add up to over 100 calories for 2 TBSP and over 140 calories for 2 TBSP of ranch dressing.  Choose low-fat condiments, watch your portions, and plan ahead!  Knowing where you are going to eat beforehand will allow you time to plan for the healthier options!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

RIP you dirty, dirty pans

My family and I are moving into the home that I think we will live in for the rest of our lives.  As a Mom, I always want to spend more money on my children than myself.  I think this is normal, when speaking with other parents.  However, sometimes that is just plain inappropriate.  I am extremely embarrassed to show you all this, but I have had the same set of Teflon pans for 10 years.  I am ashamed to say that the secret ingredient to my dishes may have been those extra crunchy flakes of Teflon or non-stick coating, but lets hope that is not the case.  I needed to make an investment in my family's health, and in myself as the nutrition expert in the house.

Before:                                                                        After:

After doing some research while trying to decide what kind of pans to purchase, I found that non-stick coatings on pans tend to wear off within a year or two of use.  Where does that coating go?  In your food.  To make matters worse for me, I have a beautiful set of stainless steel utensils that were given to me on our wedding date over 7 years ago.  The quality is impeccable still!  However, we used those utensils on my Teflon pans, irresponsibly, which caused many scratches and damage.  Stainless Steel pans are extremely durable and can be a lifelong investment.  I chose pans with copper for even heat distribution.  You might argue that stainless steel pans are too expensive.  I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond and got the Emeril 10 piece set, which came with a free cast-iron grill pan and griddle, for only $130.00 with my 20% off-one-item coupon.  If you have to replace non-stick pans every two years, then I should have spent much more than that over the course of my ten years with my old, dirty, dirty pans.  In my honest opinion, unless you can take wonderful care of your non-stick pans and plan to replace them every two-years, make the investment in some stainless steel pans and cook your heart out!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quick & Yummy Pasta with Veggies & Garlic Bread

Here's a really easy meal for someone who has 20 minutes to make a meal:
  • I box Barilla Plus Penne pasta
  • 1 container of Philly Cooking Creme (my favorite is the Italian Cheese & Herb)
  • 1 small summer squash
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 4 slices of garlic bread

Start by boiling some water for the penne and preheat your oven for the garlic bread. Cut up the zucchini and summer squash. When the water starts to boil, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box (roughly 11 minutes). While the pasta is cooking, put the garlic bread in the oven, and place 2 tablespoons of oil (I prefer a canola/olive oil blend) and saute the vegetables. When the pasta is cooked and drained, put the Philly Cooking Creme into the pasta and stir. Place the vegetables over the pasta and accompany with a slice of garlic bread. Put a nice crack of black pepper over the pasta and it's ready to go! Serve with a side of fresh fruit or salad for added nutrients and fiber. The pasta makes 6 serving. The nutrition analysis is based on a serving of pasta and a slice of garlic bread: Calories per serving: 396; Total Fat: 12.5g/serving; Protein: 16g/serving; Carbohydrates: 55g/serving; Fiber: 5g/serving; Sodium: 470mg/serving.  Also, I bought the box of pasta on sale for $1.00, one zucchini and one summer squash for $1.38, Philly Cooking Creme on sale for $1.50, and the garlic bread for $0.99 for a total of:  $4.87.  That is $0.81 per serving!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Can I lose weight without exercising?

Ask The Honest Dietitian Question One:  Can I lose weight without exercising?

Answer:  Sure.  Weight loss occurs when your calorie intake is less than your calorie output.  Therefore, if you consume less calories than what you put in, you lose weight.  But, it is so much more complicated than that.  First of all, you need to find out how many calories you expend each day without exercise.  So many people do online calculators to try and figure this out, when you really need to be meeting with a Registered Dietitian to help figure this out with more complicated equations and factors.  Once you know what your daily calorie needs are, you can decrease your calorie amounts to result in calorie deficits.  Of course, for health purposes (example:  to keep your hair from falling out, etc.) you should keep your weight loss to 2-2.5# per week.  If you chose to go with an extremely restrictive diet for faster weight loss (such as a cabbage soup diet or simply not eating) you will harm your body by not giving it the necessary nutrients it needs to work properly, you will withhold carbohydrates from your brain (which is the only thing your brain eats for energy), you will waste your muscles, lower your metabolism, age very fast, and ultimately you will give up and go back to your old habits because you did not learn how to eat properly, or you will die.  I am not kidding, withhold nutrition long enough and you might die.

There are so many benefits to exercise, although some people who have been sedentary for a long time think that they need to "Go Big or Go Home".  They think starting an exercise routine means running a 5K, when really just taking a daily walk will help tremendously.  Exercise builds and uses muscles which burn more calories.  I will discuss the additional benefits of exercise later, but doesn't it sound good to eat satisfying, nutritious foods (which most of us have to learn to do) and enjoy some physical activity, instead of counting every calorie and every gram of fat we come across?  Yes, it does!  Keep following me because I want to inspire you to have the healthiest, most satisfying experience with nutrition possible.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

White Chicken Chili - CrockPot Style

This recipe tastes a thousand times better than it looks!  Testimonials from my family:
Husband: "I would pay money for this in a restaurant"
Youngest Daughter:  "This is better than Panera's soup" 
Sometimes it's nice to have a delicious chili simmering in the Crock Pot & when you walk in the front door after a long day of work you think "man...not only does the house smell awesome, but dinner is done!"  I really hope you give this recipe a try!  Here's what you will need:
  • 8 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken (about 2 breasts)
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans of great northern beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of white hominy OR 1 (15 ounce) can of white corn
  • 1 (1 1/4 ounce) package of reduced-sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 (4 1/2 ounce) can of chopped green chilies
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can of condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (14 ounce) can of reduced sodium chicken broth
  • Toppings:  2 TBSP per serving of sour cream, chopped green onions, & I always like to add a sprinkle of Tortilla Strips

  • Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker
  • Cover the chicken with beans & hominy
  • In a separate bowl, combine the taco seasoning, chilies, condensed soup, & chicken broth.  Pour over the ingredients in the crock pot.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours
  • Before serving, shred the deliciously moist chicken and return to crock pot & stir
  • Serve with 2 TBSP sour cream, green onions, and tortilla strips, if desired.
Nutrition Facts (chili makes 8 servings):  One serving with sour cream and green onions contains 280 calories, 16 grams of protein, 37 grams of carbohydrate, 7 grams of fat, and 768 mg sodium.  If you want to reduce the sodium(salt) content, replace hominy with white corn.  This chili cost me $7.21 which comes out to $0.90/serving.  That's some savings!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Delicious Fire Ants on a Log

Sometimes taking a traditional snack like Ants on a Log and transforming it into something a little more exciting, such as Fire Ants on a Log, can make eating a healthy snack a little more enticing to your kids.  If you have ever been bitten by a Fire Ant, chances are you will never forget the burning and swelling that accompanies the pain.  And if your child has been bitten, I am sure they would have no greater pleasure than pretending the Fire Ants on the log are real, and therefore reciprocating attack on the little suckers by consuming them in a delicious peanut butter and celery environment.

Fire Ants on a Log are nutritious because the celery contains insoluble fiber, which helps...ahem...bulk your stool and keep you regular.  The peanut butter (of course, I prefer natural peanut butter) is a healthy source of monounsaturated fats, in which studies have shown helps to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.  The Craisins...well they are very high in sugar, but a good choice to give the snack some sweetness that is enjoyable to children.  As long as they are not sitting down and eating log after log in their vengeful fury, then enjoying this snack in moderation (such as one whole celery stick as a log for a serving) is a super fun and super easy way to get some fiber and protein into your kids' snack time.

What is Hominy?

With the rain and cooler temperatures, it has been a perfect day to make my white-chicken-chili.  While it is simmering in the crock pot, I thought I would take the opportunity to discuss one of the ingredients:  Hominy.  My recipe gave me the choice:  one can of hominy or one can of white corn.  I just couldn't resist it!  Not only have I had limited exposure to hominy in cooking, but I find it extremely fun to say:  hominy, hominy, hominy...  I had to buy it.

I have made this recipe a few times before and have always enjoyed the texture of hominy.  It is almost like a potato-bean.  Not as chewy as corn, rather rich and soft.  Hominy is hulled corn kernels, in this case white corn kernels, that have been stripped of their bran and germ.  In the South, dried hominy can be ground into a consistency of sand to make hominy grits. 

The only problem is when I decided to take the fun out of my hominy excitement and actually read the label:  3.5 servings per can @ 530mg of sodium per serving.  HOLY COW!  That is 1,855mg of sodium in this one can!  In one serving, you have already eaten ~33% of your 1,500mg sodium allotment for the day.  I looked at Del Monte's whole kernel white corn and found the nutrition regarding calories, protein, and fiber was quite comparable except they only have 240mg sodium/serving.  That's a little better.

Honestly, rinsing your canned vegetables only helps a little when it comes to removing sodium from the product.  Remember, when choosing fruits and vegetables:  Fresh is Best.  Frozen can certainly be better than Canned, but there are some "No Added Salt" varieties available that are a great buy when you catch those Stock-Up sales!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Let's talk about Milk baby

One of the biggest shockers I had when I started my career as a Dietitian was the amount of adults who are still drinking whole milk.  Why?  Chances are you are not going to develop Rickets, so what is the deal with that?  There are several reasons why:  texture, taste, "Grandpa drank it and never had a heart attack", "skim-milk is too watery", and so on and so forth.  For those of you who do not have lactose intolerance or a milk allergy, drinking milk is a wonderful choice for protein, calcium, and vitamins.

A glass of skim milk (fat-free) contains~ 0 grams of fat, 90 calories, 8 grams of protein, 30% of your daily value of calcium, and 25% of your daily value of Vitamin D.
A glass of whole milk contains~ 8 grams of fat, 160 calories, 8 grams of protein, 30% of your daily value of calcium, and 25% of your daily value of Vitamin D.

Those extra 8 grams of fat make a huge difference because those 5 of those grams are saturated fats.  The icky kind that stick to your arteries & raise your LDL cholesterol levels.  And if you are watching calories, saving 70 calories by drinking skim milk vs. whole milk can leave you wiggle room for additional foods in your diet, such as a piece of fruit or some veggies with fiber to keep you satisfied.

Honestly, most adults eat too much fat and calories anyways.  Give your heart a break and make the switch to skim milk.  If you are having trouble with consistency and taste, even putting some Hershey's Sugar-Free syrup with Calcium in your milk makes it a better option than a glass of whole milk. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

sitting can sometimes be healthy

When I started my job, my office was not completely furnished.  I had the nerve-wrecking task of picking out my very own office chair.  It took me a couple of months to decide on one.  I wasn't sure what I wanted until I saw the Gaiam Balance Ball Chair.  My neighbor in the office has one of those elevated desks with a treadmill so she can walk and work at the same time, so I thought I would get something healthy too.  I was a little nervous after reading review upon review that I would have a hard time adjusting to it and that I was investing in something that I would get tired of. has been a month and this is by far the most comfortable office chair I have ever sat in.

I have horrible posture, which has been improving since this bad boy.  You can't see them, but they also come with resistance bands, so when I need to take a step back from the computer, I can work on my upper body strength as well.  I sit up taller, I move around a lot more, and if you buy one of these, they send you information on how to use the chair and the removable balance ball for an entire workout.  Now I literally have no excuse not to workout at the office.  I love my office chair and it is extremely comfortable for someone of my height (5'7").  If you are interested, check out Gaiam and the Balance Ball Chair.

Greek Yogurt: The popular kid in school

I love, love, love Greek yogurt.  I love the texture &  I love the slight bitter twang that you experience when you eat it.  I am not a huge meat eater so finding an excellent protein source is like finding a gold mine for me.  I have tried almost every type of Greek yogurt available and my favorite is Chobani's Pineapple or Pomegranate flavors Chobani Yogurt.  However, today I had the opportunity to try the Laura Lynn Nonfat Blueberry Greek yogurt.  It is just as delicious as the Chobani brand yogurts and I would probably say I liked the consistency a little better (not as thick).  Laura Lynn is the Ingles Markets brand product and for those of you who have an Ingles Market around you, an excellent, cost-efficient alternative to paying for name brand food items.  See if there is an Ingles near you:  Ingles Markets.  If not, check and see if your local store has an alternative brand product to compare.

Why is Greek yogurt so popular now?  Most Greek yogurts are low-fat or non-fat, packing a lot of hunger-satisfying protein into a lower calorie food option.  These yogurts often contain probiotics, which help to encourage a healthy gut, therefore a healthy immune system.  Additionally, they contain a good dose of Calcium (this particular yogurt had 15% of your daily value).  Some people argue that they are too expensive.  Since the high amount of protein in the yogurt keeps you satisfied for a longer period of time, you can combine it with a 1/2 a cup of a nice fiber-containing cereal (such as Fiber One) or put some extra fruit in there for a low-calorie, easy breakfast.  In fact, I bought this yogurt for $1.00 on sale.  Leave the saturated fat and grease at the dollar menu and pick up a Greek yogurt today!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thank you Paul Newman

Yesterday I was spending a few minutes printing off some coupons for my weekend shopping trip and when I was visiting I noticed there was a link for a $3.00 off Paul Newman products coupon.  Wow!  I absolutely love their salsa & pasta sauce & especially their Organic Light Balsamic Dressing.  Of course, in all honesty...their popcorn needs a lot of work.  Ick.

So I clicked on the link which brought me to the Newman's Own website: and saw the ad to get the coupon.  The only catch was you had to sign up to volunteer with Volunteer Match.  I had never heard of Volunteer Match but checked it out: and there are so many volunteer opportunities available!  I put Hickory, NC in to the seach and 51 different opportunities came to light.

This was by far the best coupon link I have ever seen.  One of the purposes of this blog is to feed your soul and one of the best ways to feed your soul is to volunteer.  Some of the opportunities even say whether you can bring your children!  My heart grew three sizes coming across this wonderful resource and I hope that you check it out and share it with others as well!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Honest Portion Control

I often catch my husband encouraging my 10-year-old daughter to order off of the adult menu if we go out to eat.  I know his intentions are good; he wants her to have more options and to eat what she wants when we do decide to splurge on a meal out, but the whole kids menu vs. adult meal situation irritates me.  Not only does it cost more to eat an adult meal, but the portions are usually 2-3 or even 4 times the amount of food that one person should be eating at a meal.  And when you are watching your pennies or if you were raised in a "clean your plate" environment, it can be a very emotional experience to change your perspective and habits when dining out.

Let me put this into perspective for you.  A McDonald's Happy Meal with a cheeseburger, fries, and Sprite is:  640 calories, 24 grams of fat, 940 mg of salt, and 90 grams of carbohydrates.  An adult Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, medium fries, and medium Coke:  1, 330 calories, 61 grams of fat, 1, 665 mg of salt, and 146 grams of carbohydrate. The Happy Meal provides more than enough calories, salt, fat, and carbohydrates in a meal that there is no, I mean NO reason why anyone needs to order off of the adult meal at McDonald's.

This portion distortion does not just apply to fast foods and restaurant foods.  Fruits and vegetables are being manufactured to be a "beautiful, perfect product" (noo!).  In return, we are often provided options in grocery stores that give us twice the serving as well. 

Now, while you might argue the benefits of having more fruit for your dollar, I will honestly say that if you are not aware of the actual portion/serving sizes of the foods you are eating then you could easily be overeating, calculating your carbohydrates incorrectly (for diabetic patients), or over-buying at the grocery store as well.  Here is a good link for Small Steps, including some tips on Portion Control:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coupons for Beginners

I love using coupons.  I especially love using coupons when I am buying an item that is already on sale. The problem is, I do not have a ton of time to devote to couponing, in fact, I have completely ignored all of the extreme couponing shows because they will only get me fired-up to taking my thriftiness to a whole new level that I just do not have time for. 

Having my young ladies in the house, I do have some pretty standard weekly staples that I include into my budget.  One is for them:  Simply GoGurt  & One is for me:  Coffee.  And when I say Coffee...I mean fancy coffee.  I don't like your standard coffee (such as a regular brick of coffee, or even a can of coffee).  I like a good grind the beans, let it brew, followed by an "I just stepped out of a Christmas Folger's commercial" cup of coffee.  But with this expensive taste and the increasing cost of coffee, I feel better if I can get a deal on it. 

There are always coupons for Simply Go-Gurt which is both Mom-the-Dietitian & Kid approved.  The ladies love it as an easy snack because it's fun to eat and it tastes good.  I love it because it's a good dose of calcium & it is a healthy snack choice.  And you can freeze it to trick the kids into thinking they are having "dessert".  Whahaha!

Here are a few of my favorite coupon sites:
For those in the South: :  This site links the ads to the coupon match-ups.  It's pretty much perfect.  Sometimes you have to sign into a product site to get a coupon, but that works out because often they send you more coupons!

For every one else: and :  Start saving now!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I am so happy to be here!

This first blog is way over due!  For years I have worked as a Registered Dietitian, counseling people on how to make simple changes to their lifestyles for a big impact in their health, with a little impact in their wallets.  I am a Nutrition Expert with an "all-foods-fit" philosophy, which comes in handy when I have to plan and prepare meals for my family of four.  With two daughters- Hailey, age 10 & Kaitlyn, age 6, we are always busy between soccer, baseball, school, Girl Scouts, that I can understand the desire to reach for convienence foods & fast foods in place of a home-cooked meal.  And with my husband and I both working full-time, even making lunches for the children can be a burden at times.  One of the main purposes of this blog is to educate people that with a little planning and helpful hints, you can feed your family healthy meals that are tasty and filling without putting a dent in your monthly budget. 

I feed my family of four on a weekly budget of around $80.00-$100.00/week.  Sometimes even less!  And this includes the essentials:  paper goods and health items.

On top of having a focus on nutrition, I will also be giving you my honest opinion on other consumer products.  I once had a good friend tell me that now that I am a MOM, my focus is more on "comfort" than "fashion".  In the South, we have a response to something like that ..."well, Bless It".  I believe there can be a mix of both comfort & fashion and will be sharing these tips with you as well.

Welcome to The Honest Dietitian!  I look forward to helping people feed their mind, body, & soul!