Posts Tagged vegetables


If you enjoyed Super Bowl Sunday a little too much --one too many chicken wings or handfuls of chips smothered with guacamole or cheese, no need to feel guilty about one day of overindulging, if you otherwise have a balanced and nutrient-rich diet.

This is how to get back on track after Super Bowl Sunday, or any day you overeat or make less than healthy food more here on

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My latest post.

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Check out this wonderful guest blog on my Parents blog, The Scoop on Food, by Sharon Palmer, RD.

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With the holidays here, you're likely going to be spending lots of time in your kitchen. To make entertaining more tasty and enjoyable without sabotaging your effort (or that of your guests) to eat nutritiously, here are two recipes featuring 3 superstar veggies–spinach, artichokes and butternut squash. Enjoy!

Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Yield/Servings: Makes about 10 ¼ cup servings


2 (14-ounce) cans water-packed artichokes, well drained
4 ounces firm silken tofu
3 large cloves garlic
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup 0% plain Greek Yogurt
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1/4 teaspoon sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

2. In a high-speed blender puree the artichokes, tofu, and garlic.

3. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the Parmesan cheese, yogurt, spinach, and salt.

4. Combine the two mixtures; then pour into a medium-sized baking dish.

5. Sprinkle the top with more Parmesan.

6. Bake uncovered until heated through and the cheese on the top starts to brown, about 45 minutes.

Nutritional Analysis per serving:

Calories: 65

Fat: 1.9 g

Saturated Fat: 0.9 g

Cholesterol: 4 mg

Sodium: 282 mg

Carbohydrate: 5.2 g

Fiber: 1.4 g

Sugar: 1.7 g

Protein: 5.9 g

Calcium: 120 mg

Source: Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD


bn puree






 Roasted Butternut Squash

According to Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, "Some people avoid butternut squash because it seems daunting. That couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s one of the easiest veggies to prepare." She considers roasted butternut squash to be a perfect Autumn side dish. "Nutritionally, it's a nice trade up from mashed potatoes. We just had it with chicken breast and roasted broccoli the other night and it worked nicely," says Harris. She also says it makes a great base for butternut squash soup.

Yield/Servings: 6 ½ cup servings


1 whole butternut squash, 1.5-2 lbs

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


1. Put the squash on a lined sheet and puncture 5-6 times.

2. Roast at 400 until browning.

3. Flip it every 30 min. It takes 1.5-2 hours. It’s done when a fork easily puctures the squash.

4. Cut it open and scoop out the seeds.

5. Puree in a food processor with 2 Tablespoons maple syrup and 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice.

6. Or, alternatively, use the roasted butternut squash in a soup.

Nutritional Analysis:

Calories: 58

Carbohydrates: 15g

Fat: 0g

Protein: 1g

Fiber: 0g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 5mg

Sugar: 5g

Source: Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, Gluten-Free Goodness



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What's not to love about this delicious, nutritious twist on lasagna? Yum!

Makes 6 servings


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large zucchinis, sliced about ¼‑inch thick

4 large tomatoes, sliced about ¼‑inch thick

2 medium onions, sliced very thin

1 sprig fresh basil, 6–8 leaves, chopped or thinly sliced Italian seasonings
ground black pepper

8 ounces shredded 2% mozzarella

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2) In a 2½- quart oval bakeware dish (such as Corningware), pour the olive oil (or spray with olive oil cooking spray). Cover the bottom of the dish with sliced zucchini. Then, spread a layer of tomatoes and a layer of onions. Top with half of the sliced basil, Italian seasonings (or other herbs from your garden), and ground pepper.

3) Then add a layer of about half the shredded cheese.

4) Repeat (except for the olive oil).

5) Bake about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Hint: This recipe is especially great for using up end‑of‑summer veggies. An easy way to slice the basil is to roll up several leaves (stem edges inside), and then make thin slices. You end up with very thin strips, called a chiffonade.
Note: This recipe is adapted from Liz Manaster’s From A to Zucchini.

What are your favorite lasagna ingredients?

SOURCE: The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution by Marla Heller, MS, RD.

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.

Flower Fathead

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I'm happy to share two delicious recipes from the new book, Eating Free, by registered dietitian Manuel Villacorta. Serve these to family and friends this summer to fill them up and add some flavor to meals (or that next barbecue).

Roasted Vegetables

This is similar to a traditional ratatouille, and it is one of my best secret weapons. I use this as a side, in pasta sauces, in salads, on meats—you name it. The combination brings a different dimension to your dishes, and it gives you so many great vegetables. Once you bring this into your recipe list, you’ll always go back to it.

Serves 12 (1 cup each)


Olive oil spray

1 large red onion, cut into large pieces

2 red bell peppers, cut into large pieces

4 medium zucchini, cut into large pieces

1 large eggplant, cut into large pieces

1 large cauliflower, florets only

A pinch of garlic powder

Salt and black pepper to taste


1.     Preheat oven to 400°F.

2.     Spray a large roasting pan with olive oil.

3.     Place the cut vegetables into the pan, making a single layer, and spray olive oil over them.

4.     Sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and black pepper over the vegetables to taste.

5.     Place roasting pan in the oven for about 20 minutes.

6.     Stir the vegetables and place them back in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or until desired color/tenderness (I prefer mine slightly soft and browned).

Nutrition Information:

Calories 66; Fat 1.6g; Protein 4g; Carb. 11.6g; Fiber 4.6g; Sugar 5.8g


Farro Roasted Vegetable Salad

Farro has long been a staple in Italy. It’s a whole grain similar to barley, and it has become one of my top choices. It’s so filling, and I prefer it to pasta in soups and meat dishes. Try it, and I know you’ll be sold.

Serves 8 (1 cup each)


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon crushed garlic clove

4 cups chicken or vegetable  broth

2 cups farro, dry uncooked

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch fresh basil, chopped

4 cups roasted vegetables (see recipe, above)

Salt and pepper (optional


1.     In a medium-size pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until golden brown.

2.     Add chicken or vegetable broth and let boil. Then add farro and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Note: Farro cooks like brown rice.

3.     When farro is cooked, add tomatoes, basil, and roasted vegetables; mix.

4.     Add salt and pepper to taste before serving (optional).

Nutrition Information:

Calories 234; Fat 3.9g; Protein 9.1g; Carb. 44.1g; Fiber 11.1g; Sugar 4.2g

Source: Eating Free: The Carb Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good, by Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD.

No goods or services were exchanged for posting these recipes.

What are your favorite ways to eat your veggies?

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How does your pantry stack up? Do you feel prepped (at least most of the time) to whip together a healthful meal that also tastes good?

I invited Suzanne Irene Natz, a dietetic intern and graduate student pursing a Master of Science degree in clinical nutrition at New York University, to guest blog on how to perk up your pantry (and refrigerator, and freezer...)--a timely topic especially when the weather is cold and getting around (especially on snow-covered streets and sidewalks) is more like doing an obstacle course. Suzanne also provided some bean and pasta recipes to help you make use of many wonderful pantry items. Enjoy!

Couldn’t get to the grocery this week? We’ve all been there, and it can sometimes seem difficult to get a healthy meal on the table for yourself and your family, especially when your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer is empty. But by strategically stocking your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, you'll be in a better position to whip up a satisfying, delicious, good-for-you dinner, even when your trip to the grocery store doesn’t fit into your schedule.

Here are some tips for what to keep on hand so you can mix and match a healthy meal in no time:

In the Freezer

Keeping on hand some frozen fruits and vegetables (preferably made without added sugar or fat) is an inexpensive, easy way to get the 3-1/2 to 5 cups a day most of us need, especially if you ate that last banana yesterday. Try adding some frozen berries to low-fat yogurt for breakfast, or sauteeing some frozen broccoli and snap peas and serving over brown rice.

In the Fridge

Citrus fruits can keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, so you don’t have to sacrifice freshness during your busy week. Some best bets include oranges, clementines, grapefruit, and pineapple.

In the Cupboard

Root and tuber vegetables like sweet potatoes, celery root, and Jerusalem artichokes and various forms of squash are great roasted and will keep stored in cool, dry places longer than other vegetables.

Whole grains can be purchased in bulk and stored in airtight containers in your pantry. They add some fiber and texture to any meal!  Some choices include whole grain, high fiber cereals, oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat crackers, and of course popcorn. Be adventurous and try some that you haven't before--you may even find a new favorite!

Canned beans (preferably “no-salt added” or “low-sodium”) can give your last minute meal a boost of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates to keep you healthy and satisfy you.

In the Spice Rack

An assortment of dried herbs and spices can make rice and beans or a veggie quinoa salad a lot more exciting. To help yourself use them when cooking, choose a part of the world to serve as your theme (like Morocco--see my recipe for “Moroccan Spiced Beans” below), and choose a variety of spices used in that cultural cuisine. As your spice cabinet grows, so will your ability to select your own flavor combinations.

The next time your vegetable drawer is empty, try out these clean out your pantry recipes:

Black Bean Burgers

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4


¼ cup oats

8.5 oz can black beans (no salt added)

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 egg

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

½ tsp chili powder

2 Tbs olive oil

Optional serving suggestions:


Caramelized onions

Avocado slices

Whole wheat English muffins or hamburger rolls


1.    In food processor, pulse oats until finely ground. Remove from food processor and set aside.

2.   Pulse beans in food processor with jalapeño and garlic until well mixed. Mix spices in bowl with oats. Add in along with egg and pulse until well mixed.

3.   Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes.

4.   Remove mixture from refrigerator and form patties using about ½ cup of the mixture per patty.

5.    Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet and cook patties until one side is browned, then flip. Once both sides are browned and mixture is warmed through, transfer patties to a plate. Repeat this step using the rremaining tablespoon of olive oil and the rest of the patties.

6.   Serve with optional toppings.

Nutrition info per serving: 150 calories, 9 g total fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 630 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar, 6 g protein.

Moroccan Spiced Beans

If you’re craving something ethnic, this takes as little time as ordering take out and will save you some time (and keep your sodium down for the day!) Try it with a side of steamed Brussels sprouts or a classic green salad.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total time: 20-25 minutes

Serves: 4


2 Tbs olive oil

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 lb lean ground beef or lamb (optional—if using, use only half can of each bean)

1 Tbs paprika

1 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 can (8.5 ounces) garbanzo beans (no salt if available), rinsed and drained

1 can (8.5 oz) black beans (no salt if available), rinsed and drained

1/2 cup dried fruit, such as chopped apricots, chopped dates, or golden raisins

1 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped, or 2 Tbs dried

1/2 teaspoon salt (leave out if using salted canned beans)

2 cups low sodium chicken, vegetable or beef stock

8 oz whole wheat couscous or quinoa


1.    In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add carrots, onion, paprika, allspice, and cinnamon, and cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender (if using meat, add after about 3-4 minutes).

2.   Increase heat to medium-high and stir in beans, apricots, parsley, salt, and 1/2 cup broth. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.

3.   Meanwhile, prepare couscous or quinoa as label directs, substituting remaining stock for some of the water called for to prepare couscous.

4.   Serve bean mixture on top of grain.

Nutrition info per serving (for recipe made with couscous): 520 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium, 17 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar, 19 g protein.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Vegetable Sauce

Great when you’re out of fresh vegetables but craving something healthy and satisfying. Top with grilled chicken breast (or have it plain--it's delicious as is!) and serve with a side salad.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4


2 Tbs Olive Oil

1 Onion, diced

2 Garlic cloves, minced

1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, quartered

1 ½ cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets

8.5 oz can Canellini beans (no salt if available), rinsed and drained

8.5 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt/low sodium if available)

1 Tbs dried basil or ¼ cup fresh, chopped

1 tsp dried or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 tsp crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

8 oz whole wheat pasta of choice

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1.    Heat olive oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent. Add broccoli and artichokes and sauté an additional 5 minutes. (Now is best time to boil water for pasta).

2.   Add tomatoes and canellini beans, and spices. Bring to slight boil. Reduce to simmer and continue to stir occasionally.

3.   While simmering, drop pasta and cook to al dente. Once cooked, drain pasta and add to skillet.

4.   Toss with cheese (if using) and serve warm.

Nutrition info per serving: 390 calories, 10 g total fat, 1 g sat fat, 240 mg sodium, 13 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugars, 13 g protein.

Email Suzanne at

How do you perk up your own pantry? If you make one of the above recipes, please let us know how you enjoy it; snap a photo and you may very well see it on The ZIED GUIDE blog.

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A new set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) was unveiled on Monday, January 31, 2011. These new food rules, issued every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are designed to promote health, prevent disease, and create the foundation for federal nutrition programs. In anticipation of the new guidelines, I asked registered dietitians around the country about their hopes for the new guidelines (read the blog here). Read on to find out what wishes came true, and where the guidelines fall short in the eyes of some experts.

Counting Calories

Karen Ansel, MS, RD, a Syosset, New York-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association says "The new dietary guidelines definitely granted my wish! They send a clear message that calorie control is the key to weight loss."

The new guidelines highlight the fact that to achieve and maintain a healthier body weight, and to be healthier overall, we need to consume only enough calories from foods and beverages to meet our needs. To reduce obesity and overweight, it states the obvious (though something that’s easier said than done)—that we need to cut calories in the diet and at the same time, burn more calories through increased amounts of physical activity.

Not All Sugars the Same

Janel Ovrut, MS, RD, LDN, a Boston-based dietitian, wanted the new guidelines to highlight the difference between natural and added sugars. According to Ovrut, “The guidelines noted that solid fats and added sugars (called SoFAs) make up about 35% of calories in the American diet, but they don’t provide any information about the difference between added and natural sources (for example, added sugars are found in candy, soda, and baked goods, and natural sugars are found in milk and fruit). Most Americans don’t realize how much added sugar lurks in seemingly innocent foods like tomato sauce or bread. While the guidelines recommend cutting back on added sugar, consumers may still not be entirely clear where it comes from in their diets. So I guess my wish didn’t totally come true this time around – and that we dietitians have our work cut out for us when educating clients and consumers about sugar!”

Positive Push for Plants

Hoping to see more of a focus on plant sources of protein, Connie Diekman, M.Ed, RD, LD, FADA,
 Director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri was not disappointed. “I’m happy to see a section called “Building Healthy Eating Patterns” that lists sources of plant protein and how much is needed in a 2000 calorie eating plan for both vegans and lacto-ovo vegetarians. This is a first step in helping people who want to choose plant proteins know how what and how much to choose” says Diekman, a past president of the American Dietetic Association.

Hoping for more of an emphasis on vegetables, New York City-based registered dietitian Tammy Lakatos Shames said she was quite pleased that vegetables weren't overlooked. She especially liked that the recommendations went as far as to emphasize consuming a variety of specific colored vegetables.

The new guidelines also encourage us to “make half our plate come from fruits and vegetables” which can go a long way in increasing consumption to about 3.5 to 4.5 cups a day—the amount most of us need daily.

Focused on Fiber

Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, from Alexandria, Virginia, was hoping the new guidelines would reinforce the importance of getting enough dietary fiber primarily through increased intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. She says “The new dietary guidelines recommendation to choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets comes pretty darn close to making my wish come to life. But what will really make my wish come true is if Americans turn this key recommendation into action one step at a time—for example, by having one more serving of vegetables or another piece of fruit, by choosing whole grain bread, pasta, and cereal, and by sipping one more cup of milk each day.”

A Grainy Situation

Nour El-Zibdeh, RD, from Fairfax, Virginia had hoped the guidelines would recommend only whole grains (instead of whole grains alongside refined grains). The 2005 guidelines asked Americans to make half their grains whole, and El-Zibdeh didn’t think that went far enough in promoting nutrient-dense whole grains.

She says “I'm disappointed that the new guidelines continue to recommend half--not all--the grains we consume to come from whole sources. They do, however, consider fiber to be one of the “nutrients of concern” in the average American diet, and many (though not all) whole grain foods are good sources of fiber.” Although she doesn’t feel the guidelines go far enough, she’s pleased that they ask Americans to limit their intake of foods that contain refined grains, especially since many refined grain foods contain a lot of solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.

Going Vegetarian

New York City based dietitian Rachel Berman, RD, CSR, CDN wanted the guidelines to provide more concrete examples for those who follow vegetarian or vegan diets. She says “The new guidelines outline that they've done research on the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, and specifically on the protein-rich foods people need. They also mention that beans and grains are sources of protein. However, all this information is buried deep within the guidelines. In months to come, the government will release more consumer-friendly materials to bring the guidelines to life. Hopefully, messages specific to those who consume vegetarian diets will be more prominent, and that the consumer materials will be marketed in a way that inspires and excites consumers to make real changes in what and how they eat.”

More Power to Potassium

Hoping the guidelines would highlight potassium, Marisa Moore, MBA, RD, LD, an Atlanta, Georgia-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says “Although sodium stole the spotlight, I’m happy to see that potassium made the list of nutrients to increase in the diet. I also like that the guidelines include a user-friendly appendix of food sources of potassium. People need to know that bananas aren’t the only good sources of potassium! Seeing examples of other potassium-rich foods and beverages is the first step to consuming them.”

What are your thoughts about the new dietary guidelines? Check them out here.

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I'm so excited for the unveiling of new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) policy document, scheduled for next Monday, January 31, 2011 (at 10:00 am EST to be exact). Released every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), these latest evidence-based nutritional recommendations are designed to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. According to the report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee launched last June, some changes are expected--big slashes in sodium, and perhaps more of a push for particular foods like nuts and fish. But we won't know what will change (or stay the same) until the final guidelines are formally announced and posted on

In anticipation of DGA, I've asked a few registered dietitians around the country to answer a simple question: If you had one wish for the new dietary guidelines, what would it be and why? Here's what they had to say:

Counting Calories

“I wish they'd focus on calories as the most important factor for weight management. People are so worried about what foods they should and shouldn't eat that they lose sight of the fact that calorie control is the ultimate key to weight management."

~Karen Ansel, MS, RD, Syosset, NY-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association

Separating Sugar

“I hope they highlight sugar, specifically added and natural sugar recommendations. Consumers are confused when looking at a nutrition label because there’s no differentiation between natural and added sugars. We're being told to limit our intake of added sugars, but most don't understand how to do that besides doing the obvious--cutting back on soda and candy. Sugar is added to so many products consumers might not realize, like condiments, frozen meals, and even salty snacks. Implementing recommendations that help consumers understand more about natural versus added sugars would be a great addition to the guidelines.”

~Janel Ovrut, MS, RD, LDN, Boston MA

Pushing Plants

“I’d love to see a better, more specific focus on plant protein sources. Including them in the protein group is fine, but supporting information on how often and how much is desirable, and how to achieve these goals would help people shift their intake. This shift helps decrease consumption of saturated fat and boosts fiber and phytonutrient intake while maintaining protein quality.”

~Connie Diekman, M.Ed, RD, LD, FADA,
Director of University Nutrition, Washington University, St Louis, MO and past president, American Dietetic Association.

“I hope they put a special emphasis on vegetables since Americans aren't getting enough of them. When it comes to vegetables, more is usually better. Eating them can promote weight loss by providing lots fiber (to help fill you up) and tons of valuable nutrients, yet often with few calories.  Consuming vegetables is also associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”

~Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT, New York, NY

Focused on Fiber

“I’d like to see the guidelines once again reinforce the nutritional importance of eating enough dietary fiber and connect the dots between getting our fill of fibers by focusing on eating adequate servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Consuming more of these nutrient-packed foods will automatically help us get closer to the dietary fiber goal of greater than 25 g/day (not to mention help us get enough of other nutrients we fall short on in the diet including vitamins A, C, D, and choline, calcium, magnesium and potassium.) Essentially, getting sufficient fiber can lay the groundwork for nutritional adequacy in our diets.”

~Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, Alexandria, VA

Debating the Grains

“I hope they’ll take the sentence "make half your grains whole" out. Why not recommend that people make all their grain servings whole? People aren’t going to follow the guidelines 100% all the time, so why set the bar low at only half? People might be confused and think that having half of their grains as whole grains is enough, or that making more than half their grains whole is undesirable. Plus, the norm should be that all the grains we eat are whole, not the opposite.”

~Nour El-Zibdeh, RD, Fairfax, Virginia

Going Vegetarian

“I would love to see the new guidelines incorporate more concrete guidelines for vegetarians and vegans. Consumers who identify themselves as such are growing rapidly as is the marketplace and too many people don’t know how to eat properly on a meat-free diet. Many of the vegetarian tips and meal ideas in the old guidelines include swapping out meat for cheese, or mainly promote cheese-based meals. This can be confusing for the consumer since most of the readily available cheese-based meals in America, like pizza, don’t use reduced fat cheese and therefore make it tough to meet the guidelines’ recommendation to lower saturated fat intake. I hope the new guidelines discuss other ways people can follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and highlight foods like quinoa, a grain that contains protein and can be an integral part of a vegetarian diet.”

~Rachel Berman, RD, CSR, CDN, New York, NY

Passing the Potassium

“With all of the attention on sodium, I hope the guidelines highlight food sources of potassium; most Americans only get about half the recommended amount. Potassium has been shown to blunt the effects of sodium on blood pressure, a condition affecting 1 in 3 American adults. Increasing fruit and veggie intake is a great way to get more potassium.”

~Marisa Moore, MBA, RD, LD, Atlanta, Georgia-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association

Stay tuned....I'll share with you all the findings of the guidelines and teach you how to make them your own in upcoming articles, blogs, and videos (and even on TV) in the upcoming weeks and months and years......

What's your one wish for the guidelines?

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Are you super busy, and never feel like you have enough time to plan for, let alone enjoy, a healthful meal? Do you have multiple mouths to feed, but not sure how you're going to get something on the table that tastes good and is also nutrient-rich? Are you and your family like human airplanes--flying from one thing to the next, traveling back and forth in trains, planes, and automobiles on family vacations or business trips that make healthful eating a challenge to say the least?

If you said yes to any of the above, don't despair! Registered dietitian Patricia Bannan's new book Eat Right When Time is Tight provides tons of doable strategies to help you eat well in no time flat. I am proud to have given the book two thumbs up and share highlights from my recent conversation with Patricia about the book.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m not a seasoned chef or self-proclaimed diet guru with a fast-track plan to lose ten pounds in a week (and likely regain it!), but like most people, I'm busy but still want to eat as well as I can and get the nutrients my brain and body need. I wrote this book to show people how simple it can be to make healthy choices even when they don't have time to cook, or when they’re stuck at an airport, working 14-hour days, shuttling kids to soccer practice, or facing ten holiday parties (not to mention a tight-fitting cocktail dress!). Most of my clients want to make healthier choices, but feel that a lack of time--which goes hand and hand with stress and fatigue--gets in the way of them reaching their weight loss goals. I wrote this book for them.

How is this book different from the sea of diet books out there? What makes it stand out the most?

The “Time Factor” sets this book apart from the rest. Many books provide sound nutrition advice, but it’s hard to implement that advice when you have ten other pressing things to do on any given day, or at any given minute! This book is designed to help time-starved people eat healthy, whole foods on-the-go and access nutrition information easily. For example, the book packs in 10-second take aways so that people don't have to read the book cover-to-cover all at once. The book also provides readers with an assessment quiz and “Time Factor” calculator for each of the 10 Master Strategies so the busy reader can focus on what will give them the biggest bang for their buck (in as little time as possible, of course).

Because everyone wants the quick fix, can you share 5 of your top tips to help time-starved, hungry people put together healthful, nutritious meals for themselves and their families?

Here are five of my ten Master Strategies to help people eat right when time is tight… and reap the rewards such as feeling more energized, experiencing more happiness, or losing weight:

  • AppeSize Your Meals. An AppeSizer is an appetite speed bump. Just as a cement speed bump slows down a car, an edible speed bump slows down eating. An AppeSizer is low in calories and takes time to eat. To incorporate this strategy, you can have a bowl of broth-based soup before a meal; order a cup of hot herbal tea while waiting for an entree (instead of passing the time munching on bread or appetizers); or have a 100-calorie snack that includes protein before a big meal (e.g., 2-3 tablespoons hummus, 1 tablespoon nut butter, 1 cup non-fat yogurt, or 30 pistachios).
  • Veg Out and Fruit Up. Most people fall far short of the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The benefits of produce (having tons of nutrients, aiding weight management, and fighting chronic diseases) are well known. However, finding time to fit kiwi and carrots into your jam-packed day is often problematic. To incorporate this strategy, you can carry portable fruit (boxes of raisins, dried banana chips, an apple) in your purse or briefcase; opt for a vegetable-heavy dish (broth-based soup or a salad loaded with veggies) for lunch; or add vegetables (tomatoes, pickles, onions, sprouts) to sandwiches.
  • Eat Aware. This strategy is about making an effort to become more mindful when eating—at least once a day. Becoming mindful doesn’t mean you have to assume a lotus position or savor the inner essence of every raisin you consume… it simply means you take a few minutes a day to savor your food, even if it’s just a turkey sandwich on rye. This strategy is also about eating closer to the earth by choosing more whole-foods like fruits and vegetables and fewer packaged foods. To incorporate this strategy, eat while sitting down (driving doesn’t count) and doing nothing else (no TV, email, telephone, or reading) once a day; buy organic and locally-grown foods when you can; read the label on food products and aim for whole foods containing simple ingredients that you understand.
  • Energize in 3-5. This strategy is not only about what you eat but when you eat. For optimal energy levels, eat every three to five hours to stay in “energy balance”—or close to it—throughout the day. To incorporate this strategy, carry your secret weapon to sneak a snack in a hurry; if it’s been more than 4 hours, eat something healthy—even if you’re not hungry yet—to keep your blood sugar from plummeting; or set a reminder on your phone or watch so you don’t go more than five hours without eating.
  • Recharge. Stress can not only make you sick, it can make you gain weight as well. The good news is, you can combat stress in a variety of ways, regardless of how busy you are. To incorporate this strategy, inhale and exhale deeply for two minutes (this will slow your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure, which creates a feeling of relaxation); laugh to diffuse stress (surround yourself with light-hearted, funny people, watch a comedy, or “find the funny” in your daily life); or get a pet--research shows pets are calming and lift spirits.

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us will head out of town on planes, trains, busses, and in cars. Can you share 5 simple, satisfying, nutrient-packed snacks to have when we're on the go?

I recommend carrying an “Eat Right Survival Stash” for when you’re stuck in traffic and starving, running late for your flight and have no time for breakfast, or on a road trip or traveling by train or bus. That’s where an ER (Eat Right) Survival Stash comes in handy. It’s an emergency plan when the unexpected happens. I suggest you keep an ER Survival Stash in your office/workplace; car; purse or briefcase; and suitcase or carry-on bag.

Here are five suggestions for satisfying, healthy snacks on the go:

  • Go nuts. A 200-calorie “snack pack” of nuts (buy pre-portioned bags or make your own).
  • Bar it. A whole-food bar with minimal processing and ingredients you understand (e.g., SoyJoy, Larabar, or KIND fruit & nut bars).
  • Veg out. Have 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of dried veggies and a small handful (1/2 ounce) of soy nuts for protein.
  • Fruit up. Have 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of preservative-free dried fruit with a small handful (1/2 ounce) of nuts for protein.
  • Seeds please. Have 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Like these tips? You can enter for a chance to win a free autographed copy (generously donated by the author herself) of Eat Right When Time is Tight by doing one or more of the following:

1) Leave a comment below (you can include your thoughts about the tips, share your own tip, or post a question you'd like me to answer in a future post or in The ZIED GUIDE newsletter;

2) When I mention the book on Twitter, you can RT it;

3) When I mention the book on my Facebook pages, you can post a comment.

Good luck! A winner will be chosen on October 27th from all the entries submitted before 12 noon (EST) that day.

About Patricia Bannan

Patricia Bannan, MS, RD is a nutrition expert and author of Eat Right When Time Is Tight: 150 Slim-Down Strategies and No-Cook Food Fixes (NorLightsPress, 2010). She has appeared as a guest expert on more than thirty news shows, including NBC’s Today show, and served as a health correspondent for CNN. Follow her on Twitter @NutritionGoGo and visit her website at

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