diet

How Much is Too Much Caffeine?

(And an aside on pumpkins)

To be honest I have no idea how much is too much caffeine. No, no, no – I do. I’m just not sure I TOTALLY agree with the generally recognized recommendations. Be that as it may, I am here to inform your sweet, knowledge-seeking buns.

Before we get started, can I just say this whole pumpkin shortage thing is very alarming. This is coming from a girl who stockpiles canned pumpkin. If there was a show devoted to people who hoarded canned vegetables, I think I would be the host. Welcome folks, today we meet Becky from Rhode Island who has so much canned rutabaga in her basement, her house is actually sinking! *Cue enthusiastic eye roll* Just FYI – the pumpkin shortage is coming from too much rain in the Midwest. Libby’s, the largest producer of canned pumpkin, gets most of their pumpkins from Illinois. I’m sorry. If you don’t believe in global warming now, you never will. Pumpkins man. Pumpkins.

So what is the deal with caffeine? Please repeat that question as Jerry Seinfield would. Do it. Now. 

The going recommendation for healthy, older adults is 400mg of caffeine per day, that is about four cups of joe. Adolescents, you get 100mg per day. The Caffeine Informer can provide you with more information on the caffeine content of various drinks, all the information you do and don’t want to know.

Boom end of post. But seriously, if you experience insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach aches, rapid heart beat or muscle twitching this may be a sign of too much caffeine and you need to tone it down.

Basically, too much caffeine feels a lot like this…

 

Yes. We know.

Please drink responsibly.

*Pumpkin knowledge gathered from NPR.

Quinoa & Turkey Stuffed Peppers

As promised! See? You can rely on me…at least for the past week. We are playing this reboot day-to-day. Very, very touchy go-go.  Sadly, I do not have many pictures from this righteous culinary endeavor. To be honest, the plan was not to put it on the blog. To be even more honest, I have zero pictures. But hey! I am here delivering the promised goods like your Denver-based, 7-11 parked pot dealer. Gnarly…(swear to God, had no idea that word contained a ‘g’).

I have to say, posting a recipe without pictures is a lot like a blind date. I don’t think I need to explain that simile. Soooooo, let’s look at some pretty things I’ve chopped or cooked up for THR recipes in the past. Whoot Whoot! Consider yourself catfished. No wait, don’t. These stuffed peppers are the tits. 

Hey look. This is stuff. Image by Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Hey look. This is stuff.
Image by Kimberly Sabada

More Stuff. Image by Kimberly Sabada

More stuff! Image by Kimberly Sabada

Oh man. Even more stuff!! Wait, that's quinoa. PERTINENCY ALERT! Image By Kimberly Sabada

Oh man. Even more stuff!! Wait, that’s quinoa. PERTINENCY ALERT!
Image By Kimberly Sabada

Quinoa & Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Serves 6 (1/2 pepper per person)
1/3 cup dry red quinoa, cooked
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 small red onion, small chop
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces ground turkey breast
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2-3 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 small graffiti eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 ounce goat cheese
3 bell peppers, cut in half and seeds removed

Cook quinoa according to directions. Set aside and let cool.

Place steamer basket and ~1 inch of water in a small sauce pan, heat water to boiling. Add eggplant and steam until soft. Set aside. Once cool enough to handle, dice the soft, steamed eggplant into a consistency better known as mush.

Meanwhile, in a large pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir until garlic becomes fragrant, not browned (about 1-2 minutes). Add turkey to pan and continue to cook, breaking it up until turkey is cooked through. Add herbs and stir mixture together ~30 seconds. Finally, add tomato sauce, eggplant and goat cheese. Stir to heat through and cheese is melted. Remove turkey mixture from stove stop and stir in cooked quinoa.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9×13 with non-stick cooking spray.

Evenly fill each pepper half with turkey mixture. Place 6 filled halves in prepared 9×13. Bake for ~30 minutes, uncovered until heated through.

EnJoYs.

I have no clue what’s coming next week, but it’s sure to be informative and sarcastic.

Talk Turkey to Me

I know, I know. I’ve treated you all so poorly these past few months. The drought of nutrition information has been appalling. My posting has been about as frequent and abundant as rain in California. Well, let’s try to rectify that. Like right meoooow.

I have always been more of a boob chick than a big booty lover. Yes, even in the era of this non-stop Kardashian reign. Before you go getting any naughty ideas, I am talking about poultry and not female human beings. Kim – seriously, The Healthy Revival was finally getting interesting…exit screen. 

The funny thing about eating turkey, especially ground turkey, is how misleading it can be in terms of the nutrition. We all know poultry has white and dark meat. The breasts are the white meat of the bird. The dark meat consists of the legs and thighs.  Why the difference? It all has to do with how much the bird uses the muscle. Muscles used more frequently have more myoglobin in them, a compound which enables activity.  Muscles used less, breast and I suppose wings because chickens are flightless birds,  have less myoglobin in them. That’s all you need to freaking know because if I have to launch into a discussion about oxygen right now, I might just stop writing for another 6 months.

People fall prey to cooking with simply ‘ground turkey’. OMG dude, these tacos are amazing! Can’t believe you made them with turkey meat brah. Let’s go post something on Facebook about being healthy. 

So why is ‘ground turkey’ so bad? It is usually made from the dark meat. Let’s compare the dark to white, shall we? Oh. Oh. Oh. We shall! And just to make it MORE informative, I have added 90% lean ground beef to the comparison chart. Nutrition information below was pulled from Self.com nutrition database and Jennie O Poultry websites, based on 4 ounce servings.

Most boring chart ever made and viewed. Created by the talented Kimberly Sabada

Most boring chart ever made and viewed. Created by the talented Kimberly Sabada.

As you can see, ground turkey is much higher in calories and fat compared to ground turkey breast. The ground turkey product above is the 85% lean variation too. Not that impressed now, are we? The ground turkey is comparable to the 90% lean ground beef.  I am not promoting red meat over ground turkey either. I am saying two things: 1) if you’re looking to cut calories and lose a few pounds (which let’s face it, most everyone is) or 2) watching your cholesterol levels – ground turkey breast might be the best option.

Dark meat has plenty to offer. Compared to white meat, it has more B vitamins, iron and zinc. Awesome, if you’re deficient. Yeah, that is about all I got. So the next time someone makes you turkey tacos and you see an 85% lean ground turkey container in their trashcan, I hope you feel like this…

Go eat some ground turkey…breast.

Ground turkey breast recipe coming soon. But honestly, I think we both know better than to get your hopes up. The last post I gave you was 6 months ago. Fingers crossed.

 

Is It Over Yet? Spring Diet Overhaul: 2015

Winter is finally coming to a close. As I write this post St. Patrick’s day is slipping away, meaning one thing, Spring. Even as a dietitian, I can honestly tell you I am sick and tired of eating heavy food. If I consume one more meal with a meat and potato base, I might just turn vegan and say to hell with it.

Much like we turnover our closets come warmer weather, we should also do the same to our diets. Out with the sweaters, in the kale! No more elastic waist sweatpants, football jerseys or perpetual yoga pant wearing. Same can be said for what we consume. It is time to ‘retire’ all the dense, warm foods and bring in the dietary version of jorts. For those of you unaware of the jort fanomon, they are jean shorts. Jean + shorts = jorts. Consider yourself youthanized. See what I did there?

So here I am. To provide you with ideas for ways to get out of eating canned food and back into the produce section!

Spring Diet Overhaul: 2015

From Google Images

From Google Images

1. Fruit

Stop eating apples and oranges. I feel as though my fruit consumption this winter was a math problem your third grade teacher asked you to solve. ‘If you have 4 apples and Brad eats two of them, but then Andrea gives you 3 oranges, how many pieces of fruit do you now have?’ For the love Chiquita Banana, please give me more options! Spring will now provide you with seasonal fruits such as apricots, honeydew, mango, pineapple and strawberries. Dig in!

2. Vegetables

Potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts and parsnips has been the bounty of the winter doldrums. I feel I have reinvented ways to make sweet potatoes 20 times over the past few months. Roasted, mashed, grated, steamed – you name it. My winter vegetable series looked something like Red Robin’s hamburger menu. Sure, you can add different toppings and condiments, but it all starts to taste the same after a while. Good news! Spring vegetables include asparagus, broccoli, snow peas and spinach. These next few months are basically the equivalent of a movie I hope to produce one day, ‘Spring’s Green Latern’. You are welcome Ryan Reynolds for the quasi plug.

From Google Images

From Google Images

Check out local vendors and grocery stores for seasonal proteins in your area. And do not forget to reincorporate whole grains. I know you’ve been living on nothing but sticky white rice, Cocoa Puffs and sourdough bread for the past few months. So get to gettin’! The bounty is here and you needs some vitamins. I mean seriously, your skin could use some help. Believe me, I know. I am pretty sure I look translucent these days and skin flakes the size of quarters are falling off my face.

Summer Barley Bowl

THR is back! Not that it went anywhere, but I’m sure a one week hiatus left you all pretty worried. It’s been a busy week for yours truly, what with a trip home and a nonstop work schedule for the last couple of weeks. In case you were wondering what my trip looked like back to the Midwest – please just see below.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Yeah, all I ate was BBQ. If you’re ever in St. Louis be sure to hit up Pappy’s Smokehouse. This fine establishment opens at 11am and closes when they run out of succulent smoked meat – seriously. So when I returned from my long journey home, there was only one thing to do: reintroduce myself to plant foods. Thus was born this beautiful Summer Barley Bowl.

Temperatures are rising out there and cool, light foods are where it’s at! This is a dinner that won’t heat up your kitchen or weigh you down as the summer nights get longer. In an effort to think outside the rice bowl, I used an alternative whole grain – barley. Do not be intimidated by this lovely grain, it cooks up just like rice and turns out a meatier product than its step sister rice. Feel free to experiment with this recipe. Enjoy my dear readers!

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Summer Barely Bowl

Serves 2

Lemon Yogurt
1 (6 oz) nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon chopped chives
salt

Barley
3/4 cup dry quick-cooking barley
2 tablespoons fat-free ricotta
1 ounce light feta

1 can chickpeas, drained
Olive oil
Pepper

Toppings:
Pea shoots
2 tablespoon toasted slivered almonds
1 small avocado, sliced
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
Fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Combine lemon yogurt ingredients, cover and chill while you prepare the rest of the bowl components.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Place chickpeas in an 8×8 baking dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with pepper. Place in preheated oven and roast for ~30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside.

Prepare quick-cooking barley according to directions. Once cooked, fold in feta and ricotta cheese.

Divide barley evenly between two bowls. Top with chickpeas, cucumber, pea shoots, almonds, avocado and parsley. Top with a dollop of yogurt and serve.

April’s Hot Nutrition Topic: Ch-Ch-Chia Seeds

Chia seeds boast numerous health claims – weight loss and a good source of antioxidants and protein are just a few of them. But seriously! What the heck is the deal with these little black and white seeds? A few years back, chia seeds started coming into the forefront of healthy eating. Why? What’s their deal? Sure, ‘healthy people’ are throwing them into their oatmeals, smoothies and yogurt, but we as informed individuals should know why. Surely these seeds must offer some nutritional punch, which bring us to April’s Hot Nutrition Topic. Oh yeah, these posts (much like Shameless Product Placements) are freaking back. And I got news for you my few but avid readers, I love these posts because there’s nothing better than exercising your brain, learning more and getting to the facts on all things nutrition.

Image from Google

Image from Google

As a kid, Chia Pets were all the rage for my generation. Just add water and watch these terra-cotta pots sprout! It was my first introduction to chia seeds.  Now in 2014, these little babies are back, but instead of watering them to grow grass, we’re ingesting them to better our health.

Chia is an edible seed cultivated in Mexico dating back to the Myan and Aztec cultures. Little known fact, these seeds are also a member of the mint family. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, omega-3s and antioxidants. And unlike flaxseed, chia seeds are able to be processed and absorbed by the body. In theory, chia seeds are thought to expand in the stomach and increase satiety, thus promoting weight loss. However, in terms of the chia research out there right now, this weight loss theory continues to go unproven. But you know what curbs over eating and promotes satiety? Protein and fiber – oh yeah, chia seeds have both those features! One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, and 11 grams of fiber.

“Over a 12-week period, we did not see a change in appetite or weight loss” in study participants who consumed chia seeds, says researcher David Nieman, DrPH, a professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. “Our study showed no reduction in body weight, body fat and no improvement in traditional cardiovascular markers from 50 grams of chia per day.”

As a dietitian, I say food before supplements. While chia seeds may not help you shed the added winter weight for beach season, they are still a good good source of protein and fiber to help keep you feeling full. Their mixture of fatty acids and antioxidants also provide an excellent anti-inflammatory mixture. For weight loss, I advise sticking with a healthy, calorie-reduced diet and exercise. Sorry kiddos.

Add chia seeds to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, salad dressings and baked goods for added nutritional punch. Below is HR’s Overnight Oats recipe for a simple way to start incorporating chia seeds into your diet. Make this recipe the night before and store in a sealed plastic container overnight in the fridge. Voilà! The next morning you have delicious oaty goodness at your fingertips ready to be devoured come breakfast time.

For the full post, click here.

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Overnight Oats

One Serving
1/2 cup dry rolled oats
1 cup milk (skim, soy, or almond)
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
A dash or two of cinnamon

In your plastic container, mix together oats, cinnamon, and chia seeds.  In a small separate bowl mix together milk and the mashed up banana. Add the milk and banana mixture to your dry ingredients.  Stir well. Cover and place in fridge overnight. Stir up in the morning and enjoy! I enjoy it as is, but feel free to top with nuts, dried coconut, peanut butter, dried fruit or pure maple syrup.

 

Recources:
Nieman, D. Nutrition Research, May 2009; vol 29: pp 414-418.
http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442472548
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia
https://www.nutrition.org/asn-blog/2012/03/the-real-scoop-on-chia-seeds/
 

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie with Whipped Cauliflower

As promised, I present to you a healthy take on an old classic. I think the staples of our childhood kitchens can fall by the wayside when we try to start eating healthier. Beef stroganoff, tuna noodle casserole, chicken divan, and meatloaf are practically taboo in modern, ‘healthy’ households these days. These were foods I was raised on. They elicit fond memories and unadulterated nostalgia. However, in today’s 2014 world, we all know we cannot add Campbell’s Cream of Anything to our nightly entrees without a little saturated fat guilt.

Which brings me to our featured cauliflower recipe. The creation was sparked by my mother a few weeks ago. If you read ‘Crushing on Cauliflower’ last week, you know whipped cauliflower was a mashed potato substitute in our house some 10 years ago.  She asked if I thought said cauliflower would work on top of shepherd’s pie in place of mashed potatoes. Let me tell you, there’s never been a food science question thrown at me I won’t attempt to tackle. This baby was born not 2 weeks after that 15 minute phone conversation.

I am not saying all good things must be destroyed in order to make them healthier. I enjoy the challenge of healthfully adjusting recipes in the kitchen – make it taste good, look good, and most importantly, feel good. That’s not a crime. I also find it thrilling to try new things for the first time while cooking for others. Shoot, my eggplant osso buco didn’t turn out? Oh, did you say it tastes like tire rubber? Thank you! Now then, where can I get my hands on a Dominos menu and who will be running out to purchase the beer to help drown my shame?

I decided to make this dish for some friends during New England’s 3,307th snow storm this year. Instead of lugging the perishables around town, I took a cab straight to my evening kitchen. En route to the destination, my cab driver asked what was in my grocery bags. I think it was ‘Hey, what are making you for dinner tonight little lady?’ After I bit my tongue in resentment for the somewhat sexist comment, I informed him I was making Shepherd’s Pie…with turkey…and whipped cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. This 5’10″, 200-something pound man rolled his eyes as if seeing the top of his cab would be a crime if he didn’t indulge the desire. His verbal response was, and I quote, ‘Oh God, their poor souls. They [my dinner guests/ginny pigs] are going to be so mad at you!’ I paid the fair, tipped appropriately, exited the cab and got to work.

Needless to say my cabi was W.R.O.N.G. This pie is good. I mean darn good. I made it for the male population and these boys were practically licking their plates clean after supper. I would never lead you down the wrong path. Try this beauty and let its traditional simplicity amaze you.

Side bar on this one – photos were taken using my iPhone because my Cannon battery decided to die with unapologetic urgency.

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie with Whipped Cauliflower

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Serves 6-8
*See bottom of post regarding recipe notes

Ingredients:
2 medium heads of cauliflower, chopped into small floweretts
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup shredded asparagus
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper*
¼ cup ketchup
1 pound ground turkey breast
4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 Tablespoon flour
¾ cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit

In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, cook to soften for about 5 minutes. Stir in carrots, asparagus and cook for another 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook until fragrant (~2 minutes). Add ground turkey and cook until lightly browned, breaking up the turkey during cooking. Fold in peas and corn. Add herbs, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper; heat through. Stir ketchup and cook until lightly caramelized, about 1-2 minutes. In a small separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup of chicken broth and flour, pour into skillet and cook for another 2 minutes until juices have thickened. Transfer mixture to a 9×13 pan.

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Meanwhile, in large saucepan heat remaining 3 cups of chicken broth and cauliflower over medium-high/high heat. Broth should nearly cover the cauliflower, if it doesn’t, add water until it does. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until cauliflower is soft*. Drain excess fluid, reserve about 1 cup of fluid in case needed to thin whipped cauliflower. Place cooked cauliflower in a food processor and puree. Drizzle in ~1 Tablespoon of olive oil, pulse to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. If too thick, add reserved broth here until desired consistency is achieved. This step will take about 20-25 minutes, feel free to make whipped cauliflower prior to starting the turkey layer.

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Spread whipped cauliflower over turkey mixture in baking dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and turkey mixture is bubbling around the edges. You may need to broil for ~5 minutes if you want cheese to brown depending on your oven.

Cut pie into pieces, plate, serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes:

*Crushed Red Pepper: add as much or as little as you like depending on your desired level of heat.

*Whipped Cauliflower: When I write ‘soft’, I mean soft. At this point you can practically mash it with a fork. Paragraph two under the directions is how I make whipped cauliflower as a side dish. However, in addition to the cauliflower, I add a few peeled cloves of garlic during the boiling process and puree them with the cauliflower to add extra flavor.