Happy Halloween!

I’m not going to preach about healthy eating on Halloween this time. I just wanted to share some of the lovely and creative costumes my friends, family, and coworkers have created! However, if you are looking for some tips, you can find them here. 

Have fun tonight! Be safe, and eat some Reese’s PB Cups for me! Let’s pray this rain stays away until at least 10 PM. Then all of the teenagers that are out trying to get free candy can get rained on. ha!

My family! (plus or minus a few)
My family! (plus or minus a few)
Me and the Chipotle burritos at work! Who doesn't love a homemade burrito costume?
Me and the Chipotle burritos at work! Who doesn’t love a homemade burrito costume?
My best friends the sushi family!
My best friends the sushi family!
Doner Party Catering!
Doner Party Catering!
If you come to my party you WILL zumba!
If you come to my party you WILL zumba!
Three Elsas! I feel kind of bad for Anna though, am I the only one??
Three Elsas! I feel kind of bad for Anna though, am I the only one??
photo
The Saw Lady, Ursala, and myself!

Fruits and Veggies with a Bad Reputation

I am often asked, “which fruits are bad?” I hate that mainstream media has Americans so confused to think that there are actually bad fruits and vegetables. All fruits are good for you.  All fruits offer vitamins, minerals, and fiber. If I had to choose the very healthiest fruit, I would probably go with berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries). However, you do not need to eat berries every day. Eat berries when they are in season (the summer time in California) eat apples when they are in season (fall). Here is a list of a few fruits and veggies which have a bad reputation but are really quite healthy!P1160381 - Copy

1. Carrots. My clients like to tell me they avoid carrots because they are “high sugar.” This is 100% not true. One large carrot has 3 grams of sugar and only 30 calories. You would have to eat 10 large carrots to equal the amount of sugar that is in one glass of orange juice. So go ahead and put some carrots on your salad, eat them with hummus, or roast them with some other root veggies!P1160391

2.White Potatoes. Ok, so white potatoes are not kale. But they do offer some important nutrients. Did you know that one medium size potato has more potassium than a banana? Potassium is beneficial in helping lower blood pressure and of course, as we all know, it can help with exercise induced cramps. Potatoes are also a good source of fiber if you eat the skin. Eat the skin, it’s good! The problem with potatoes is mainly that they are the number one consumed vegetable in America because they are eaten in the form of french fries. Yes, this is a problem. Baked potato with veggies and a little cheese- good. French fry- bad.P1160437 - Copy

3. Bananas. What is not to love about a banana. It comes in its own natural wrapper! Making it portable and practical. Yes, bananas might be considered “high sugar.” But I can’t really think of a fruit that isn’t high in sugar, as all fruits are full of fructose. Fructose means fruit sugar. One medium banana has 100 calories and 15 grams of sugar. That still pales in comparison to our friend orange juice with 30 grams of sugar. I’m not hating on orange juice, I’m just saying eat your fruits first!P1160412 - Copy

4. Frozen Fruits and Vegetables. Fresh is best, but frozen is a very close second! Vegetables and fruits are typically frozen right after being harvested which means they retain their nutrients. Sometimes, it can even allow the fruit to vine ripen for longer because the producers won’t have to worry about the fruit rotting or becoming damaged during transportation to the market. Frozen is also economical and can help you cut back on food waste. If you only go the grocery store once a week, eat fresh at the beginning of the week and have some frozen green beans and fruit smoothie at the end of the week! With frozen just make sure to check for added sugar or sodium. Look at the ingredient list, ideally you want it to have just one ingredient- the fruit or veggie you are buying and that’s it.

Just one ingredient, corn!
Just one ingredient, corn!

In a nut shell, if you are eating a fruit or vegetable, you are doing a good job! Try to get at least 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables in your diet every day! If you exercise a lot or are very tall/big then you need even more!P1160365 - Copy

5 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Halloween

I love Halloween. Last night we had our annual Halloween party and it was a blast. The night was filled with costumes, catching up with old friends, and good food. You know what it was not filled with, candy. There was not one piece of candy present and I don’t think there was one guest that minded. Yes, you can have a fun Halloween party without candy! I’m not against candy. However, we all know that Halloween night will bring plenty of treats for the lil’ ones and there is no reason to pre-load the kids all week long before the main event. Here are some tips for how to enjoy a healthier Halloween!

1. Make vegetable art! Check out this awesome eggplant owl and bell pepper monster. Crudite is awesome, and it always gets gobbled up in our house. For a healthier dip try mixing half low-fat sour cream and half plain non-fat Greek yogurt with a ranch or onion seasoning packet. vegetable art2. Get Fruity. Sliced apples and caramel dip, always a hit around Halloween time! Or, try making these adorable ghost bananas! The kids will go bananas for them! (hehe).

banana ghost
Who doesn’t love chocolate and bananas? These ghosts do look like they have been through a bit of a war, but they look great from far away!

3. Pack in the Protein. Make spooky deviled eggs. Pop a sliced green olive in the middle and bam, you have eyes, or make spiders with black olives. Another delicious protein packed treat-pumpkin seeds! After all that hard work that goes into carving a pumpkin, you definitely don’t want to throw away those seeds. Season them with salt and pepper or go sweet with cinnamon and a pinch of sugar!

4. Get Moving! All I have to say about this is please do NOT be that mother driving her children from house to house on Halloween night to go trick or treating. So unnecessary, and so silly! Part of the fun of Halloween is roaming the streets at night with or without your parents, but NOT in the car. No no no!

5. Moderation is Key. Don’t restrict yourself or your children from candy. This can sometimes lead to an increased desire for the food that is off limits. If you know you have a hard time not overeating candy, try buying the candy last minute or purchase a type of candy that you don’t really like. Try playing the “switch witch” with your kids, after they have eaten their fair share of candy. If you are interested in more tips for a healthy Halloween check out this great article by fellow RD Sally.

Happy Halloween from the PSL and the Sushi Roll!

Pumpkin spice latte halloween costume

Shredded Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Happy Food Day! Now, I know you are probably thinking to yourself, Food Day? Why would we need a day to celebrate food? The truth is, we do need a day to celebrate eating REAL food. So much of what Americans consume is overly processed crap, hardly resembling real food at all.

How can you tell if a food is real or processed? A real food will be as close to it’s natural state as possible (think fresh off the farm). Any whole fruit or vegetable is definitely a real food. Pre-washed, pre-chopped vegetables are still real, but the lines become less clear when it is salted, preserved, sweetened, and enhanced with artificial or “natural” flavors. Another example would be dried fruits and nuts, both real. However, if you are to consume a “nutty raisin bar” there is likely added sugar, preservatives, GMO soy and canola, and gelling agents that may not be so real. I do understand that we can not (actually I think we could) live off fruits, vegetables, and organic chicken alone. But I know our ancestors before us did eat much more real foods then us and they did not suffer from such high rate of diabetes and obesity.

End rant. Today I bring you a fabulous real food recipe from my favorite food blogger Kelly at Just a Taste.  I modified her recipe just a bit; skipping the cheese, and adding purple cabbage for a lovely color. I wanted to name this salad “cruciferous crunch” but I just don’t think that would get many hits on an internet search. In fact, my computer is telling me that cruciferous is not even a word, but I know that it is! Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale are chock full of disease-fighting phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.

For the complete recipe visit Just a taste. Feel free to add purple cabbage as I did. I also used almond spears? (the name is not coming to me right now) instead of sliced almonds because they are more hearty and I like them better. But use whatever you like, and don’t forget to make the dressing too! Enjoy! Have a great REAL food day! What real foods are you going to eat this weekend?

Chiffonade that kale!
Chiffonade that kale!

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Soy and Breast Cancer: Is There a Link?

soy foods

October is breast cancer awareness month. It’s a great time to donate to a cancer charity and it is also a great time to think about lifestyle choices which may affect your risk of developing cancer. A healthy diet and regular exercise are two lifestyle factors which play a role in reducing the risk of breast cancer. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer in epidemiological studies (studies looking at large populations). On the other hand, we often hear that there are some foods which may increase our risk for cancer. One of those foods being soy. Many people have heard talk of soy being unhealthy, while some people think it’s healthy, what’s the deal? To find out, head on over to shopwell, to read the complete article.

Top 5 Restaurant Foods Wearing a Healthy Disguise

We all know eating out is  probably not the best choice when we are trying to follow a healthy diet, but sometimes you just don’t have the time/don’t want to cook. These days many restaurants do offer healthy choices. The trick is finding what is actually healthy and what is just disguised as healthy. The following are some choices which I do not recommend and a healthy alternative.

tuna sub
A poor choice from Subway
  1. Tuna Sub from Subway. Usually I give Subway 2 thumbs up for nutritional value. Just hold the mayo, add lots of veggies and you are good to go. But not with the tuna sub, the tuna has so much mayo in it this sub clocks in at 480 calories for a 6 inch. Compare that to a 6 inch turkey breast which has 280 calories. If you are trying to slim down do not order the tuna from Subway. While 480 calories is certainly not a calorie bomb keep in mind that does not include cheese or any condiments. Veggie, turkey, or ham are much better choices at Subway.
  2. Creamy Tomato Soup from Panera Bread. Tomato soup, normally a really good choice. Nope, not this one. I think they make it with heavy cream. This soup has more calories than the broccoli cheddar or the potato soup. Loco. The best soup choice would be garden veggie or chicken noodle, with less than 160 calories compared to 450 in the tomato for a cup and a half of soup (1 bowl).
  3. Roasted Mushroom Alfredo from Olive Garden. Alfredo is probably not fooling anyone, but the mushrooms seem nutritious, right? Wrong. Instead of eating a bowl of saturated fat and refined carbs try the Lasagna Primavera with grilled chicken. This is actually really good! My Dad ordered it the other night and he loved it. I tried it and I will say it did not scream “diet food” at all. It was flavorful and a decent portion size. Bravo Olive Garden!
  4. Hot Pastrami from Urbane Café. I’m going to start by saying Urbane is my favorite “fast” food restaurant ever. I literally had to scour the menu to find something unhealthy because all of their sandwiches and salads are pretty sound nutritionally. But of course, pastrami is a very high fat meat and I just can’t give it my approval. I do recommend the Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich with the delicious side salad for 590 calories. They also have a wonderful assortment of soups and salads; just steer clear of the ranch dressing!
  5. Pumpkin Spiced….Scone! from Starbucks. If you want to know what I think about the pumpkin spice latte from
    vanilla scone
    I love these little vanilla bean scones

    Starbucks click here. We can call it a PSS (Get it?). While this scone is delicious, it is definitely a calorie bomb at 480 calories. That should basically be your whole lunch, not just a little pastry on the side. I would recommend a petite vanilla scone instead. Perfectly delicious and a much better portion. No need to order 3, just ask for one scone.

I hope this little guide helps you make some healthy choices this weekend. What are your restaurant recommendations for healthy eats?

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

Is pizza healthy? Can I lose weight and still eat pizza? How often can I eat pizza? I get these questions all the time. Americans (at least Simi Valleyians) love them some pizza. The answers depends on many factors, primarily: what kind of pizza are you eating and how many slices? I believe that all foods can fit into a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. To me, moderation would probably mean once a week or less. This is the one rule I have for pizza. If you eat pizza, you eat salad (or some type of green vegetable). This does not mean forcing your child to eat vegetables. It simply means making a salad to go with the pizza or just ordering one from the delivery man.

pizza
Cookin’ with my munchkin!

Now that we have established that pizza can fit into a healthy diet, lets talk about this pizza. Yes, It does have candied nuts and pears and yes, it is amazing! I’m really really excited about this pizza because I no longer have to pay $13.99 at California Pizza Kitchen to get my beloved Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza. Sounds super weird but this is a must try! I think I may even like my version better than theirs. Take that CPK!  It’s funny, because I don’t even like Gorgonzola cheese. When I get it at CPK I ask for light Gorgonzola because it is just too pungent for me. You could also try subbing the Gorgonzola for feta or goat cheese!

P1160087
one slice, who am I kidding?

I used Trader Joe’s refrigerated pizza dough for this pizza and it worked great! You can probably use any good quality pizza dough you like though. This pizza is amazingly simple to make, despite having quite a complex and deep flavor profile. I actually had dinner ready early tonight, score! Here’s a helpful tip, if you are also feeding little kids, just buy some pizza sauce and also make a more traditional cheese or pepperoni pizza. Although, I do think it’s best to expose kids to all different types of foods and not be a short order cook. P1160066 P1160064 P1160068 P1160074 Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

Ingredients- one 12″ pizza

  • TJ’s pizza dough (whole wheat or white)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter (optional)
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 thinly sliced pear
  • 1/2 sliced onion (caramelized)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (enough to fully cover pizza)
  • 2 TBSP Gorgonzola crumbles
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped candied pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 475 F
  2. Let pizza dough come to room temperature and stretch out to a 12″ pizza round. Place on oiled baking sheet or pizza stone.
  3. Brush top of pizza with olive oil
  4. Put balsamic vinegar and sugar in sauce pan. Turn on medium heat, add thinly sliced pears and cook for 2-3 mins. Make sure you get a good sizzle. Put pears to side
  5. Add 1 TBSP olive oil and butter to sauce pan. Cook onions until translucent and caramelized
  6. Place pears and onions on pizza. Cover with mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake pizza for 8 mins. Remove from oven, add Gorgonzola and chopped pecans
  8. Return to oven and cook for 2 more minutes
  9. Serve pizza with mixed greens and favorite Ranch or balsamic dressing. Feel free to add extra cheese, nuts or pears to your salad!

Glorious Gluten

bread caution Gluten has been on my mind lately, and I wasn’t too sure why until I remembered the TV show I watched last week. Parenthood. Do you watch it? Great show! But I digress…In the last episode of Parenthood there was a lot of talk about gluten free lunches for the kids. It was once believed that gluten may have played a role in hyperactivity/ADD/autism etc. in children. However, recent research suggests that this is not true (and may I say thank you to the writers of Parenthood for perpetuating that myth, not!)

So what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Yes, it is a protein; people have told me they avoid gluten because it is a “carb.” Nope, not a carb! Wheat products, which are mostly carbohydrates, do also contain small amounts of protein. Oatmeal does not contain gluten, neither does rice (white or brown), potatoes, or corn. It is still possible to consume plenty of carbs while following a gluten free diet. You may notice that oatmeal is sometimes labeled “gluten free” in the store. While oats are not made from wheat and do not naturally contain gluten they are usually processed in the same factory as wheat so they may be contaminated with gluten, unless specifically labeled “gluten free.”

On to the controversy. In America (especially Los Angeles), there has been an epidemic of gluten sensitivity or gluten allergies, as some people like to call it. The majority of these allergies are self-diagnosed. There is, however, a true autoimmune disease called celiac disease where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine. For someone with celiac disease, it is very important to eat gluten free for his or her short and long term health. The diagnosis for celiac disease is based on a simple blood test. If that is positive, it is confirmed with an intestinal biopsy (not as scary as it sounds).

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. A scientist who did an experiment where he gave people meals with gluten and asked them to record their symptoms coined this term. The study subjects had a lot of symptoms after eating the meals with gluten. These symptoms ranged from diarrhea, constipation, headaches, fatigue, abdominal pain, malaise, and the list goes on and on. If you know anything about scientific methodology you know that this is not a good study design! Just recently this same researcher performed another study, where he gave people gluten free meals without them knowing. Guess what? The subjects reported the exact same symptoms as they had when they were given meals with gluten. If you are interested in learning more about this, click here.RiceChex

I believe you should eat whatever makes you feel best. However, if you are going gluten free just to be trendy or because you think it will help with your constipation, you should think again. Here are some reasons not to go gluten free:

1. Whole wheat products are healthy and are a good source of fiber
2. It can create a problem for people who actually do have celiac because people think that eating gluten free is a casual thing, not a serious health issue
3. When a product which is not naturally gluten free (chips, cereal, bread) is made to be gluten free it is usually striped of fiber and has a lot of additives added to it in order for it to be palatable
4. Last but not least, gluten tastes good. Bread, pizza, cereal, do you really want to avoid these foods? (sorry to my friends with celiac disease)

I know you have probably already seen this clip on Jimmy Kimmel. But this video demonstrates my point so nicely. Check it out!