nutrition

Eggplant Cannelloni

This one is an easy dinner that’s sure to impress should you choose to have (the dreaded) company over. It’s also a great summer meal for those hot nights when you don’t want to break your back in the kitchen. Sure, the oven may be required, but the run time is short! If you’re looking for a little more protein, feel free to throw some grilled chicken, seafood, pork or beef on the side. I prefer to serve these vegetarian eggplant cannelloni’s with a fresh, roasted vegetable. Pictured below with sautéed spinach and lentils.

 

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Eggplant Cannelloni

Serves: 4 main course

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 large shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jars (12 ounces each) roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 medium eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
Cooking spray
4 ounces goat cheese
5 kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1 teaspoon drained capers, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat broiler.

Heat oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sauté   shallots and garlic until soft for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat. Cook until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add peppers and juice; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside and cool. Place in a food processor and blend until pureed . Pour mixture into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Meanwhile, coat eggplant slices with cooking spray and broil on a baking sheet until golden on both sides, about 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine goat cheese, olives, capers and 1 tablespoon of the parsley in a bowl. Place 1 tablespoon of filling at the end of each eggplant slice; roll up. Lay seam side down in dish. Bake 10 to 15 minutes. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Plate and enjoy!

June’s Nutrition Hot Topic: Debunking Vitamin C and the Common Cold

This post is hitting a little too close to home as I sit on my bed with Saved by the Bell on in the background. Covered in Vics Vapor Rub, a box a tissues to my right and countless cough drop wrappers strewn around me, I figured what better post to create today while I stay home sick from work than to feature the effects of vitamin C on the common cold. Here goes!

Image from Google.com

Image from Google.com

Vitamin C has long been touted as the cure all for the common cold. Feel a few symptoms coming on, drink a little orange juice and POOF! Those symptoms just disappear. At least that seems to be the way most people see it. But does vitamin C really have an effect on your immunity? A theory once seen as a truth some 40 years ago, now seems to be falling by the wayside.

Studies looking into the effects of vitamin C on the common cold have produced inconsistent results over the years. In a 2007 meta-analysis, researchers compiled study findings from the past 60 years on supplementation of >200mg of vitamin C and its effects on the frequency, duration and severity of common colds. The findings are as follows: if supplementation was started after the onset of a cold, there was no significant impact on its duration or severity. The researchers did find vitamin C supplementation had the most effect on those under extreme conditions – i.e. marathon runners; taking daily supplementation of vitamin C reduced this population’s risk for a common cold by 50%.

Bottom Line from Web MD:

‘The average adult who suffers with a cold for 12 days a year would still suffer for 11 days a year if that person took a high dose of vitamin C every day during that year’

 

So if you want to start supplementing vitamin C, check with your doctor first. The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.

 Stay healthy out there!

Sources:
Douglas, R.M. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2007.
Wed MD: Vitamin C for the Common Cold
UptoDate: “The common cold in adults: Treatment and Prevention.”

 

The Nuttiness of Natural Peanut Butters: Fad or Fact?

Smuckers, Skippy and Jif – they all have ‘natural’ peanut butters, but are they really natural? What does one qualify ‘natural’ peanut butter as in the first place? Well I’m sure there is some FDA branch who has determined this definition, but I’ll tell you the simplest definition there is going. In my mind, the ingredients label should read ‘peanuts and salt’. That’s all folks.

While at a friend’s house for brunch last week, a jar of Skippy Natural Peanut Butter was placed on the dining table. Being the freak dietitian I am, I hustled on over and read the ingredients list. Look nothing gets this RD more excited than a bomb peanut butter just placed on a brunch spread, but the ingredients need to be right. I don’t care if it has less fat or more sodium or more freaking peanuts, the ingredients list is where it’s at people!

Now that you know, below is THR’s breakdown of ‘natural’ peanut butters hot on the market.

1. Skippy Natural Peanut Butter: FAIL

Image from Google

Image from Google

Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt

The minute you see ‘oil’ in the ingredient list of any nut butter – go running. Nuts are naturally oily, that is why they are considered a fat. There is absolutely no need to add oil to an already oily product. I don’t care if that oil is ‘natural’.

2. Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter: WIN

Image from Google

Image from Google

Ingredients: Peanuts and salt

3. Jif Natural Peanut Butter: FAIL

Image from Google

Image from Google

Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt, molasses
*See oil comment above.

There’s countless niche natural peanut butters out there. As a New Englander, I LOVE Teddies. Not living in my area? Hop on over to Walmart, Target or Amazon to purchase your first jar today! But seriously, feel free to experiment. Natural peanut/nut butters have come a long way in the last 5-10 years. They don’t always required heavy stirring and are far from their initial chalky prototypes. So get out there nut lovers and rediscover what it means to eat natural peanut butter!

 

Eggplant, Spinach & Tomato Pizza

If someone asked me to make a list of 5 foods I could never give up, pizza would definitely be on it. I mean come on! It’s cheese on bread. You throw some meat and/or vegetables on there and I’m basically yours forever. No really, a friend once made me homemade pizza (crust and all from scratch) and I gave him my social security number as a thank you. Identity theft be damned! That pizza was delicious.

Now I do not have the prowess to make my own pizza crust at this point in my culinary life, but this pizza was still the bomb.com. I purchased the whole-wheat crust from Trader Joe’s. I’ve also used Whole Foods crusts before – both are incredibly easy to work with. If you’re thinking you can cheat with a Boboli crust, put it down and back away from its vacuum packed sealing. Trust me. The extra 15 minutes required for preparing the raw dough will be well worth it.

IMG_3154

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

 

Broiled Eggplant & Tomato Pizza

Serves: 6

1 raw (16oz) whole-wheat pizza crust dough, refrigerated
1 small eggplant, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups fresh spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 ounces part-skim buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced*
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon fresh, diced chives

Directions:
Preheat broiler. Combine prepared eggplant and tomatoes on a broiling pan lined with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray, toss to coat and season with salt and pepper. Place pan in broiler, broil for 6-8 minutes until eggplant has browned and tomatoes are lightly charred – turn halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat olive oil over low-medium heat. Add minced garlic and simmer until fragrant, but not burned – 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare crust according to directions. I took mine out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before starting to work with it to help the dough warm up and become a little more pliable.

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and stretch dough onto it. Drizzle crust with garlic infused olive oil, top with sliced mozzarella, spinach, broiled eggplant/tomato mixture and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for ~ 15 minutes until pizza is cooked through and crust is golden brown. Top with parsley and chives, cut and enjoy!

*Recipe Note:

Buffalo Mozzarella – I recommend using a serrated knife to slice, it helps create thinner slices and prevent slices from falling apart.

Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman 

The Crockery of Food Labeling – As Told by John Oliver

There are three things I love in this world: vulgarity, British men and bad-mouthing the United States’ food industry. This video combines all three for this Friday bonus post!

I have a hunch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is quickly going to become one of my favorite shows on television. It debuted on HBO April 27 and its very first episode featured a segment on the tragic food labeling standards in the United States. I don’t have much to say in this post because Mr. Oliver literally says everything there is to say in the near 6 minute video. Click the photo below to take you to the video!

Note: Video is not safe for work or around sensitive ears – language warning!

Watch. Learn. Laugh.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 5.20.42 PM ‘Hey, we didn’t spend years misleading people about the health benefits of our snake oil for you come in and lie about how much snake oil you have in your product’

May’s Nutrition Hot Topic: Coo Coo for Coconut Water

If I had to define coconut water in two words it would undoubtedly be ‘sexy beverage’. Literally, Vita Coco just came out with a lemonade coconut water. It’s slogan: ‘Lemonade was a one piece…we made it a bikini’. For reals. I don’t know what it is about this stuff, but professional athletes and supermodels around the world are promoting coconut water as if it were liquid gold. So why is it so popular?

Truth is, I am constantly asked about the health benefits of coconut water. ‘Will it help me lose weight?’ ‘Why aren’t you (a dietitian) guzzling this stuff?’ ‘If I want to increase muscle definition, I should only be drinking coconut water, right?’ Sweet baby Jesus, the list goes on and on.

Image from Google Images

Image from Google Images

I suppose coconut water isn’t all that ‘new’, but I still get questioned on it every few weeks at work and that’s why it is May’s Nutrition Hot Topic. I thought it would be good to hone my standard answer with a bit more research and provide some insight for you people. Psh, you’re welcome – no big deal. 

The health-conscious and celebratah are downing coconut water like the world’s last coconuts are falling from palm trees and dehydrating as fast as my skin in December. You see, at baseline, coconut water is made from -oh my God, you guessed it – water! Ahhh. So yeah, it’s hydrating…most water based fluids are. That last statement could send us down a dark, weird path so I’ll move on quickly. Coconut water should not to be confused with coconut milk. Coconut milk is an emulsion of coconut water and grated coconut. Coconut water is the fluid found inside the coconut (also not to be confused with coconut flavoring added to water). Make sense? To make it even simpler, technically coconut water is a type of juice. I’ll wait while the blowing of your mind subsides…

Now then, coconut water’s big claim to fame is its electrolyte content. Think of it as Mother Earth’s

Image from Google Images

Image from Google Images

Gatorade. It is a good source of potassium, magnesium and sodium. Potassium is the big spotlight mineral of coconut water. According to The American Heart Association, potassium helps keep our fluid

balance regular, stimulate nerves and contract muscles. Basically our cells need potassium to function properly. Sounds pretty essential, right? But coconut water isn’t the only source of potassium. You know where else it’s found? Fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

So if you have a balanced diet and aren’t working out like Michael Phelps, do you need to be drinking coconut water for its electrolyte content? Only you can answer that question. The answer lies in the calorie content of this sweet, sweet nectar. An average 8-ounce serving carries between 45-60 calories. The real question is, do you need those calories or can you accommodate them in order to prevent weight gain? As most of us know, weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than you burn on a daily basis. I agree dear reader, 45-60 calories does not sound like much. However, if you consumed 8 ounces of coconut water daily for one year and did not account for it in other places of your diet or exercised a tid bit more, it would result in roughly a 5 pound weight gain annually. Food for thought! Don’t believe me on the math? Post your dispute in the comment section below.

Look, I’m all for finding natural hydrating products. Ones that aren’t loaded with artificial sweeteners sound great! I love the initial slogan of Vita Coco. ‘Hydrate Naturally’. Hey fools, you know what else can do the same thing?! A banana and a large glass of water. Just saying. And by all means, omit the banana if you’re not massively hungover or having just finished an aggressive workout.

Finally, to put it simply, the calories in coconut water are coming from it’s carbohydrate content = sugar. I don’t mean to be a dietitian downer, but you should know all the facts. Coconut water is no devil beverage, but consume responsibly with an informed mind.

Happy Hydrating 🙂

Resources:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Potassium_UCM_306021_Article.jsp
http://www.mayoclinic.org

Kale and Quinoa Patties

It’s time for THR’s highly anticipated quinoa blend recipe! This one does not disappoint, but then again, when do they? These little patties got rave reviews from my test kitchen rats. Five stars across the board and the prep was a breeze. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Kale and Quinoa Patties

Serves: 6 (2 patties per serving)
*See recipe notes below

Ingredients:
½ cup dry tri-blend quinoa (I use Ancient Harvest’s Quinoa Harmony)
1 cup water
1 cup steamed kale*
3 eggs, beaten
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Salt/Pepper (to taste)
Olive oil

Rinse quinoa and place in a medium size sauce pan with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for ~20 minutes until the quinoa is cooked through and the liquid has been absorbed.

Mix together steamed kale, cooked quinoa, garlic, green onions, eggs, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Mixture should be moist, but not runny. Form into  12 patties and set aside.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Heat 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4-6 patties (depending on the size of the pan) at one time. Cook for 8-10 minutes per side or until browned. Remove cooked patties from pan and finish remaining batches.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Serving Recommendation

Feel free to eat these patties atop mixed greens or a roasted vegetable. I chose to get a little fancier when I made them the first time around with a mixed toasted+raw kale salad, homemade Parmesan Lemon Dressing and a runny poached egg. See below for all the pretentious details!

Kale and Quinoa Patties with Toasted Kale Salad and Poached Egg

Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 Kale and Quinoa Patties
4 poached eggs
4 cups chopped, fresh kale
Cooking spray

Parmesan Lemon Dressing:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
1-2 teaspoons honey
Salt/Pepper

Whisk together Parmesan Lemon Dressing ingredients*. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place 2 cups chopped, fresh kale on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray, toss. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 10-15 minutes until crispy.

In a large bowl, combine remaining raw and toasted kale with the Parmesan Lemon dressing. Divide between 2 plates, top with quinoa patty and a poached egg. Finish with some fresh cracked black pepper and Parmesan cheese. Happy eating!

Recipe Notes:
Dressing: the dressing was thrown together by myself a little haphazardly. Take that as a warning, but the measurements are close. Feel free to play around with it!

Steamed Kale: I placed a steaming basket in a large saucepan, filled it with water to just below steaming basket. Place kale in steaming basket, bring water to a boil and steam until kale is tender; about 10-15 minutes.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

(Money Shot)

Recipe adapted from Yummy Supper