Spring is in the air…can you feel it? What will you do to stay healthy and fit now that the weather is on the up and up?

As I just mentioned in my ZIED GUIDE weekly newsletter, a friend and I had planned to sign up for the Fitness/More half marathon in NYC this upcoming weekend. Unfortunately, despite our plan, life got in the way and by the time we tried to sign up, we were shut out!! To keep my motivation and inspire others to usher in spring with a little more step, I decided to set a goal to walk the distance of a marathon—26.2 miles—each week during the month of April. Starting on Friday, April 2, I will walk an average of about 4 miles each day—of course I’ll get less or more on any given day depending on the weather, and my schedule. My goal is to accumulate a total of more than 100 miles for the month. For each mile I walk, I will donate at least $1 to Live Light, Live Right, an amazing childhood obesity prevention program based in Brooklyn, New York.

I’d love you to challenge yourself with me. I already have some friends who are along for the ride. If you’d like to get involved, please do the following:

  1. Email me at elisa@elisazied.com or tweet me at @elisazied or post a message on my facebook wall at http://on.fb.me/dUTKqv to say you’d like to join.
  2. Post how many steps you take or miles you walk once a day or once a week (whatever keeps you motivated to continue) on Twitter or on Facebook;  please use #walkamarathon with every post. If you’re not on Twitter or Facebook, post your progress at the end of this blog post to stay motivated and encourage others to get involved.
  3. If you’d like to commit to donate to a charity of your choice, feel free to post that as well to make yourself accountable and inspire others to be charitable as well.
  4. Remember that EACH AND EVERY STEP YOU TAKE counts towards your total, so be sure to strap on that pedometer or do whatever it will take, rain or shine, indoors or out, to count every step you take. 20 blocks counts as one mile. You can walk solo, or grab a friend or even a group of friends to walk. Most importantly, and to avoid injury, be sure to set weekly/monthly goals that are healthful and realistic for you. No matter what distance you cover this month, even if you don’t meet your goal, every step you take will help you stay fit, inspire others, and potentially even help a cause or charity close to your heart.
  5. Please share this post with your colleagues, friends, and family. The more we can spread the word, the more motivated we will each be to challenge ourselves and at the same time, help others.

Thank you for your support! Are you in?

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Here are two delicious recipes–one for breakfast, and one for a tasty lunch or dinner– from the brand new book, Hungry Girl 300 Under 300. This latest book by Lisa Lillien, star of the Hungry Girl tv show on The Cooking Channel, and creator of hungry-girl.com, is sure to be a best seller, and is likely to be a great tool to help you and your family prepare and eat smaller portions of great tasting food. Enjoy!

Super-Sized Berry-nana Oatmeal Parfait

PER SERVING (entire recipe): 285 calories, 4.5 g fat, 359 mg sodium, 54 g carbs, 6.5 g fiber, 21.5 g sugars, 9 g protein



1/3 cup old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze

1 no-calorie sweetener packet

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

Dash salt


1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 banana, sliced


Combine all ingredients for oatmeal in a small nonstick pot on the stove. Add 3⁄4 cup water and mix well. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 9 minutes, stirring often, until somewhat thick and creamy. (It will thicken more upon chilling.)

Allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 1/2 hours.

Stir oatmeal thoroughly until uniform in texture. Spoon half of the oatmeal into a glass, and top with 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup sliced strawberries, and 1/4 sliced banana. Repeat with remaining oatmeal, yogurt, strawberries, and banana.

Serve and enjoy!


Sweet Coconut Crunch Shrimp

PER SERVING (1/4th of recipe, about 5 shrimp): 164 calories, 4.5 g fat, 266 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3.5 g sugars, 19.5 g protein


1/4 cup Fiber One Original bran cereal

1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut

3 tbsp. panko breadcrumbs

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. black pepper

Dash salt

12 oz. (about 20) raw large shrimp, peeled, tails removed, deveined

3 tbsp. fat-free liquid egg substitute


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cereal in a sealable plastic bag and, removing as much air as possible, seal. Using a meat mallet, carefully crush cereal through the bag. Add sweetened coconut, panko breadcrumbs, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt to the bag; seal and shake to mix. Transfer mixture to a large plate and set aside.

Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray and set aside. Pat shrimp with paper towels to ensure they are completely dry.

Combine shrimp with egg substitute in a bowl and toss lightly to coat. One at a time, shake excess egg from shrimp and transfer to the coconut-crumb mixture, gently patting and flipping to coat. Evenly place coated shrimp on the baking sheet.

Bake in the oven until outsides are crispy and lightly browned and insides are cooked through, 10 – 12 minutes. Serve and enjoy!


Source: Reprinted with permission from Hungry Girl 300 Under 300: 300 Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Dishes Under 300 Calories.

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Baked Chimichangas

Mexican food lovers can rejoice with this delicious chimichanga recipe that not only feeds a family right, but makes a great on-the-go next day lunch.

Makes 4 Servings.


4 (8-inch) or 8 (6-inch) whole-wheat tortillas


1 1/2 cups cooked and cubed chicken
3/4 cup salsa, thick and chunky (extra salsa = optional)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated, reduced-fat cheddar or Mexican blend cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Warm tortillas until pliable (about 5 seconds each in microwave or in a nonstick skillet). Wet one side of tortilla and place wet side down. Spoon on filling ingredients. Fold to hold in filling. Spray baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Lay chimichangas, seam side down, on baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes.

Cook’s tip: You can replace the chicken with ground or diced beef, pork, or turkey.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 260
Total fat 5g
Saturated fat 2g
Cholesterol 50mg
Sodium 544mg
Total carbohydrate 27g
Dietary fiber 2g
Sugars 5g
Protein 24g

Source: Quick & Healthy Recipes and Ideas, 3rd Edition, © 2008 Brenda J. Ponichtera, R.D. (www.QuickandHealthy.net), Published by Small Steps Press, publishing health conscious books for the general public, an imprint of the American Diabetes Association.

Chicken Chili

Here’s a chili recipe to keep things hot in your kitchen & in your mouth! This thick and tasty chili is not only simple to prepare, but it packs in lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber to fill you up and keep you satisfied at lunch, dinner or beyond! If you double the recipe, you can freeze leftovers in small containers.

Makes 5 servings (one serving = approximately 1 and 1/4 cups)


1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 cans (15 ounces each) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, not drained*
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
1 cup water
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Brown chicken in a saucepan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is tender.

*Sodium is figured for no added salt.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 236
Total fat 2g
Saturated fat 0g
Cholesterol 28mg
Sodium 64mg
Total carbohydrate 33g
Dietary fiber 10g
Sugars 3g
Protein 21g

Source: Quick & Healthy Volume II, 2nd Edition, © 2009 Brenda J. Ponichtera, R.D. (www.QuickandHealthy.net), Published by Small Steps Press, publishing health conscious books for the general public, an imprint of the American Diabetes Association.

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What better way to celebrate the American Dietetic Association’s National Nutrition Month than with an interview with my friend and colleague Keri Gans, author of a brand new book that’s sure to help many, The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You (Gallery). Here are the highlights from our conversation:

What inspired you to write this book?

Having been in private practice for over 10 years and listening to my patients’ struggles with weight loss, and then seeing their successes, I thought what I had to say could be very helpful to others. Also, so many times over the years when I worked with the media, a journalist or producer would ask if I had written a book. After having to answer that question with a no so many times, I decided I should do something about it! I thought to myself, if they think that what I have to say is important, why not share it with more people.

We’ve all heard about how small changes could lead to big results…what makes your particular approach to making small changes different/better/more unique than others?

We have heard before that small changes lead to big results, but my approach is different because I individualize that concept for every reader. There are no time restraints, no specific order you must follow, and no beginning or end. The changes I suggest should be approached in any order you feel comfortable with, and you should take as long as you need to adopt the new behavior as a habit. When you successfully change a habit, it helps you feel very positive about yourself and motivated to stick with it. Along the way I break down every small change into smaller, specific, easy steps so you can continuously feel you’re moving forward.

A question I’m often asked is “Can I really eat French fries and other foods I enjoy and still lose weight?” What say you?

You bet! Losing weight shouldn’t be about avoiding the foods you love, since deprivation  almost always leads to failure. I encourage readers to continue to eat the foods they love, but just learn to eat them in a new way. Perhaps it is simply eating a smaller portion, decreasing the frequency you eat the food or learning to prepare the dish in a healthier way.

On twitter, you often say “skip the bread basket.” You know I—like so many others—love bread. So what do you tell your readers who want to have bread?

I love bread too! The reason I recommend skipping the bread basket is because most of my patients not only eat the bread (and more than one piece for that matter), but also continue to eat a huge bowl of pasta or mashed potatoes which they most definitely finish. Something has to give in order for a person to lose weight. I encourage bread as part of the meal, i.e. on a sandwich, or with an omelet, but not as an extra. However, if out for dinner and they really want bread then a decision must be made on what they order and how much of the rest of the meal they eat. An entree of fish with a side of veggies could leave room for a piece of bread, but a burger with fries most definitely would not.

What are the top small changes you recommend for people who want to lose weight?

I recommend ten small changes, and don’t place any more emphasis on one or the other. In order for a person to maintain a healthy body weight, I think all ten need to be adopted. Increasing fiber intake, cutting empty beverage calories, and reducing undercover calories of dressings and sauces are among them.

For more information about Gans or The Small Change Diet, go to www.kerigansnutrition.com.

What small changes have you recently incorporated that have made a big difference in your life?

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Crunchy chicken fingers, egg rolls, pizza and pasta– these may sound like foods you and your kids typically consume, but the term “healthy” may not come to mind when you think of these. The good news is, many of your family favorites can be prepared healthfully and still taste great thanks to a terrific new cookbook. Keep the Beat™ Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Family Meals, created by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in collaboration with David Kamen, a chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, packs in 40 simple, quick to prepare, delicious recipes you and yours will love to prepare and eat! Ideas for breakfast, brunch, lunch, snacks, and dinner are provided, and appealing recipes such as Hawaiian huli huli chicken, Mexican Lasagna, and Wow-y Maui pasta salad are included to bring healthful, nutritious foods with great flavors to your family menu.

Keep the Beat™ was created in partnership with the National Institutes for Health We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) campaign, a national education program designed to give parents, caregivers and entire communities a way to help children stay at a healthy weight.

The best news of all? Keep the Beat ™ is available as a free download PDF or can be ordered as a hard copy.

When you make any of the delicious recipes in the book, please send me a photo to include on my blog; you and your family will be credited, of course! So what are you waiting for? Get cooking with the kids!

Full disclosure: I was given a free cookbook–but with no strings attached!

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In honor of National Heart Month, I once again asked Aviva Goldfarb for a favorite red food recipe–and for many, including my husband, you just can’t beat beets! This lentil/beet salad with honey lemon dressing from SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue is sure to please, so try it out. I’ll be happy to post your photos of this dish at the end of the blog post, so please share them!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Makes 4 servings (about 1 ¾ cups each)

Aviva says “This is the most delicious combination, especially if you are crazy about beets like I am (I’m growing my own for the first time this year!).  For this salad, I used pre-cooked and vacuum packed lentils and beets from Trader Joe’s, but it’s also terrific with freshly cooked lentils and fresh steamed beets.  Serve it with Sugar Snap Peas with Cashews and pita bread or Indian naan.”


2 cups cooked lentils (or 1 cup uncooked)

4 beets (pre-steamed, if available), quartered and diced

½ cup crumbled goat or feta cheese

½ lemon,  juice only, about ¼ cup

1 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. fresh dill, finely chopped, or use ½ tsp. dried dill


(Start the sugar snap peas first, if you’re making them.) In a medium-sized bowl, combine cooked lentils, steamed beets and the cheese (if lentils and/or beets aren’t pre-cooked, see instructions below). In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, oil and dill, and pour it over the salad. Toss gently, and serve immediately or chill it for up to 3 days.

To cook the lentils, rinse 1 cup lentils in a colander or bowl. In a medium saucepan with a lid, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil.  Add the lentils to the boiling water, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer the lentils for 25-30 minutes until they are tender to the bite. Drain any remaining liquid. Season the lentils with salt to taste. (This makes more than two cups of cooked lentils, so measure them before adding them to the salad.) You can make the lentils up to 2 days in advance.

To steam the beets, scrub the beets, and cut off the greens, leaving about 1 inch of stems attached to the beets. In a saucepan, bring about 1 inch of water to a gentle boil.  Steam the beets, covered, for 45 minutes, until they are fork tender. Drain the beets, rinse them in cold water, and peel the skins, using your fingers or a vegetable peeler. You can make the beets up to 2 days in advance.

Scramble Flavor Booster: Use the juice of a whole lemon to make the dressing and season the salad with freshly ground black pepper.

Tip: The sweet taste of beets reflects their high sugar content making them an important raw material for the production of refined sugar; they have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, yet are very low in calories. As a general rule, the smaller the beet, the sweeter it is.

Side Dish suggestion:  In a small skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add 8 oz. (about 2 cups) sugar snap peas and sauté them, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes. Add 1/4 cup chopped cashews and sauté them for about 2 more minutes and serve.

Side Dish suggestion:  Serve it with pita bread or naan, either warmed in the microwave for about 1 minute or wrapped in foil and warmed in the oven at 300 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes.

Nutritional info per serving:

Calories 270, Total Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 10mg, Sodium 490mg, Total Carbohydrate 34g, Dietary Fiber 11g, Sugar 12g, Protein 13g.

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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 suzanne.natz@gmail.com.

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 www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

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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This delicious dinner is sure to please..what’s not to love? It’s made with chicken, a great source of lean protein, and red potatoes that give you not only healthy doses of vitamin C and potassium, but they’re the ultimate feel good comfort food. And we know carrots are loaded with vitamin A, important for healthy eyes and skin. These recipes also pack in tons more vitamins, minerals, and valuable plant chemicals–the fact that they’re delicious is just icing on the cake!

These recipes come courtesy of Robyn Webb; they’re from her upcoming book Comfort Foods: Foods to Fill You  Up, Not Out! which will be published by the American Diabetes Association in September, 2011.

According to Webb, “There’s nothing more comforting that chicken and veggies in a thick luscious sauce topped with a flaky crust.  The earthy aroma of this dish will fill your kitchen and beckon everyone to dinner.  And the secret to this ultimate comfort food? By using butter flavored spray and phyllo dough, we slash all the saturated fat and calories found in typical pie crust.  The phyllo dough topping is infinitely more interesting that a standard crust. You’ll see. There is a wow factor here!”


Makes 12 servings.

Serving size: 1 ( 3×3 inch) square

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into ½ inch pieces
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup water
1 tsp olive oil
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, cut into ½ inch pieces, abuot 3 cups
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pound small red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into quarters
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 medium carrots, diced into ½ inch pieces, about 1 cup
1 large onion, diced, about 2 cups
1 ½ cups 1% milk
½ cup half and half
6 Tbsp flour
Kosher salt or sea and fresh ground black pepper to taste
8 ounces frozen peas
½ cup minced flat leaf parsley
8 sheets phyllo dough
butter flavored spray

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the diced chicken with garlic powder and fresh ground pepper and set aside. In a 2 quart saucepan, bring the chicken stock and water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive il in a medium skillet and add the mushrooms and garlic.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft.  Once the mushrooms soften, set them aside in a bowl.  Strain any liquid from the mushrooms.

3. Add in the potatoes and thyme leaves and lower the heat to medium.  Simmer the potatoes for about 8 minutes until tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes and thyme to a bowl. Discard the thyme leaves.  Add the carrots and onions to the stock and simmer for 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the carrots and onions to the same bowl with the potatoes.

4. Add the chicken to the stock and simmer the chicken for 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to the same bowl with the vegetables.  Reduce the stock until reduced to ½ cup, about 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, whisk the milk, half and half and flour together in a bowl until very smooth. When the stock is reduced slowly add the milk mixture to the stock, constantly stirring until thickened, but you should have a smooth sauce.  Add the sauce to the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.  Add in the reserved mushrooms, peas and parsely, mix well.

6. Pour the mixture into a 9X13 inch pan.  Set aside.

7. Prepare the phyllo dough topping.  Spread one sheet of phyllo out onto a very lightly floured surface. Be sure to cover the remaining  sheets of phyllo with a towel to avoid exposing to air. The phyllo will crack if exposed. Coat with the butter spray. Add another sheet of phyllo on top of the first and coat with spray.  Repeat this process until all 8 sheets are used.

8. Carefully lift the phyllo dough stack and place over the chicken vegetable filling. Tuck the edges under.  With a sharp knife, make 3 diagonal slashes across the top of the dough. This will allow steam to escape.

9. Bake the chicken pot pie, uncovered, for about 30 minutes until the top is puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes. Cut into squares.


Webb says “When everyone else was bringing sweet potatoes capped with marshmallows to holiday dinners, our family would bring this lovely roasted mixture of potatoes, carrots and parsnips. The technique of roasting is actually the comforting part; the high temperature puts a crispy crust on root vegetables that beats sweet potatoes with marshmallows every time.”

Makes 10 servings.

Serving size: ½ cup

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 20-30 minutes

5 large carrots, peeled, ends trimmed, slice on diagonal
4 large parsnips, peeled, ends trimmed, slice on diagonal
2 sweet potatoes, peeled,  cut into medium cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh herbs ( thyme, oregano, sage or rosemary)
freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the vegetables with the oil, salt and herbs.  Toss to coat.

2. Arrange vegetables on two parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Roast until soft on the inside and browned on the outside, about 20-30 minutes.  Flip the vegetables halfway through the cooking.

3. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For more information about Robyn Webb, go to www.robynwebb.com.

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