alannacabrero

I’m all about saving time these days. These are a lazy version of chiles rellenos, but nonetheless, equally delicious. Enjoy!   Ingredients:    2 whole, peeled, seeded green poblanos   ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated   3 whole extra large eggs   2/3 cup of 2% milk   ½ medium  onion, sliced   ½ teaspoon of  Everyday Seasoning   (Trader Joe’s product with sea salt, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, coriander, onion, garlic, paprika)    ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper (optional)    Instructions:   Preheat oven to 325 degrees.   Cut chiles in 2-3" pieces. Add a single layer of chilies on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.   Top chiles with the sliced onions.  Add grated cheese.  Mix together eggs, milk, and seasoning. Pour egg mixture all over the top.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until slightly golden.  Voila! Cut into squares and serve with corn tortillas, side salad, or on it’s own. This meal is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!      Recipe slightly tweaked from  The Pioneer Woman. 

I’m all about saving time these days. These are a lazy version of chiles rellenos, but nonetheless, equally delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole, peeled, seeded green poblanos 
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 whole extra large eggs
  • 2/3 cup of 2% milk 
  • ½ medium  onion, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon of Everyday Seasoning (Trader Joe’s product with sea salt, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, coriander, onion, garlic, paprika)
  • ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  1. Cut chiles in 2-3" pieces. Add a single layer of chilies on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  2. Top chiles with the sliced onions.
  3. Add grated cheese.
  4. Mix together eggs, milk, and seasoning. Pour egg mixture all over the top.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until slightly golden.
  6. Voila! Cut into squares and serve with corn tortillas, side salad, or on it’s own. This meal is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! 

Recipe slightly tweaked from The Pioneer Woman. 

Part II: Eat Galactogogues While Breastfeeding

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Yes, I know… Galacto-what?! A galactogogue is a substance (usually, food or herb) that increases milk supply or promotes lactation. The following are some foods and food groups that boost milk production. Remember to keep in mind the other breastfeeding dietary tips as well!  

  • Whole grains and complex carbs. Carb-rich foods aid in the production of serotonin, a hormone that produces relaxation. Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, etc), whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes, beans, and lentils are key, especially at night. Brown rice and oatmeal specifically lead to the production of oxytocin and prolactin, hormones involved in breast milk production.
  • Foods that have phytoestrogens. Top sources are soybeans, flaxseeds and their derivatives (nuts, oils, seeds, and herbs). Remember to choose whole, unprocessed sources, especially when it comes to soy. Other rich sources are: hummus, garlic, mung bean sprouts, winter squash, dark leafy greens like collards, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, dried fruit (dates, apricots, prunes, figs), and tree nuts (pistachios, almonds, cashews).
  • Emphasize L-Tryptophan rich foods. L-tryptophan stimulates the production of prolactin, a hormone involved with milk production. Choose foods such as turkey, chicken, soybeans, tuna, shrimp, salmon, milk, cheese, cow’s yogurt, beans and cashews.
  • Essential fatty acids! The only sources of omega-3 fatty acids your baby will get are from what you provide either through supplement or breast milk. Best source of omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish, flax, walnuts, and cod liver oil.  
  • Teas. The following teas have herbs that aid in milk production. It also helps with keeping you well hydrated!
    • Mother’s milk tea containing milk thistle, fenugreek, and fennel, all natural galactogogues. Do not take fenugreek in large amounts since it may cause gastrointestinal distress or low blood sugar.
    • Red raspberry leaf tea promotes general women’s wellness related with periods, pregnancy, easing labor and delivery, and lactation.  

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider (lactation consultant) before taking any dietary supplement, as some may not be healthy for you.

Try these “lactation cookies” from Eat Richly. An awesome (and tasty) way of getting a few galactogogues in one bite! 

Part I: Best Diet for Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is no joke. It’s hard work! There are many things to consider, an obvious aspect being your diet. The following are a few dietary tips that have been helpful and, especially, not overwhelming to follow. In part II, I will talk about specific foods/herbs that help produce more milk.

1) Make sure YOU are following a healthy, balanced diet for YOU.

Rest assured, your baby will probably be getting the best of what you are eating regardless of your momentary dietary lapses, but if you are not eating enough nutritious calories or eating junk food all the time, your body may pull on your reserves and eventually become depleted.

2) Listen to hunger cues.

Most women who are breastfeeding need about 300-500 more calories daily than moms who are feeding formula.. Counting calories is not the solution. Instead, listen to your hunger cues and eat balanced, whole-food meals rather than nutritionally void foods. If you feel you are eating too much, reduce portion size and have smaller, more frequent meals.

3) Drink enough liquids - especially (you guessed it) water!

A good rule of thumb is to drink about half your weight in pounds in ounces. Meaning, if you weigh 155 pounds, drink 77.7 ounces per day, which translates to almost 10 cups per day (1 cup = 8 ounces).

4) A word on caffeine.

A daily cup or two of coffee is fine, but too much caffeine can interfere with your baby’s sleep or make him/her fussy, cranky, or irritated – making for an unhappy and exhausted mom. Caffeine is harder for babies to break down and therefore lingers in their system for longer. Caffeine is also found in sodas, chocolate, teas, energy drinks, and over-the-counter medicines. Keep caffeine intake to 300mg or less.

5) Limit alcohol.

One drink a day is probably okay for breastfeeding, but no more than that.

6) Rest & relax.

As much as feasible, considering you need to breastfeed every 2-3 hours! Rest and relaxation supports breast milk production.

7) Nurse frequently.

Breastfeeding is definitely a case of “the less you use it, the more you lose it.” Nursing frequently will aid the production of milk through stimulation of the adequate hormones. So, get to it!

8) Do not avoid foods altogether if you don’t need to.

Avoiding certain food groups can cause nutritional imbalances i.e. avoiding dairy leads to calcium deficiency. If you are thinking of limiting your diet in this way, speak to a dietitian or health professional. In the meantime, a few things to keep in mind:  

  • All babies are different. Even though there are generalities on what babies can tolerate, not all babies react the same way. Therefore, observation is key. If you notice that a food causes discomfort, it’s important to 1) avoid and 2) find an adequate nutritional replacement. Some foods to keep an eye out:

- Chocolate (caffeine, remember?); Spices (garlic, curry, chili pepper); Citrus fruits and their juices, like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit; Gas-producing veggies (onion, cabbage, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, Brussels sprouts) or legumes (beans, lentils); Foods that can cause a laxative effect like prunes, figs, pineapple, raspberries, blackberries; Peppermint tea; Parsley; Alcohol

  • Check your family history for allergies and/or top allergens. The “Big 8” food allergies are a good place to start. Look at peanut, tree nuts, milk (especially cow), egg (egg whites), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Again, observation is key.
  • Stay clear of added contaminants. Pesticides, insecticides, mercury, artificial sweeteners, and other chemicals are not good for you or the baby. Make sure to: 

- Choose produce from the Clean 15 list and/or purchase organic local, and/or seasonal produce when choosing from the Dirty Dozen list, which has the highest amount of pesticide residue.

- Eat from glass not plastic containers.

- Choose fish low in mercury and stay within 12 ounces of quality fish a week.  The Monterrey Bay Aquariums Consumer Guide is an awesome tool to help you pick the best fish choice.

- Choose lean meats and/or remove the skin since chemicals are stored in the fat.

Stay tuned for part II!

(Pictured: Theo at 2 weeks old.)

Lentil Soup with Cleansing Greens

At the beginning of the New Year, our nutritional goals become clearer and we feel the need to “reboot.” Cleansing is nutrient-dependent. So, therefore, some of the juice cleanses that seem so alluring are not necessarily addressing your cleansing goals, because they don’t include the necessary nutrients.

In addition to a proper diet, a gentle cleansing routine includes staying well hydrated, keeping your bowels functioning properly and moving (even better, sweating!). Learn more by reading Bushwick Nutrition’s take on Detoxification.

The recipe includes nutrient-dense vegetables (high in selenium, sulfur, antioxidants, fiber) and lean protein (packed with detoxifying amino acids such as glutathione). It’s also hydrating and includes nutrient-packed herbs and spices. This recipe will give your body a chance to REBOOT in 2015! 

Recipe originally posted on NYHRC Blog. 

Puffed Quinoa Granola

Usually, the base of my granola are old fashioned rolled oats, but I wanted to switch it up, so I used puffed quinoa. You can either purchase it or make your own. One cup of puffed quinoa has about 110 calories per cup, 3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, no sugar, and a little over one serving of carb. Not bad at all! This granola can be served on top of yogurt, as a topping for whole wheat pancakes or French toast, as added crunch to peanut butter spread on toast, or on top of some frozen yogurt for dessert! It’s much lighter than oat-based granola and is also naturally gluten free!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups puffed quinoa
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS Agave nectar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice blend
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 TBS flax seeds
  • 2/3 cup of nuts- in this case I used pistachios and peanuts 
  • 8 prunes, finely chopped 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 300F. 

2. Mix oil, Agave, vanilla, spices, and salt in a large bowl. 

3. Slowly add flaxseeds and puffed quinoa to the bowl. Mix well, until quinoa is fully coated. 

4. Spread out granola onto a parchment paper or baking dish and bake for 7 minutes. 

5. Stir well, add nuts and prunes, and bake for another 10 minutes or until quinoa is golden.

6. Allow to cool. 

Enjoy! 

The Weight Factor In Pregnancy

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I’m not going to lie, seeing my body change so drastically throughout my pregnancy has been difficult, even though I know that all these changes are necessary for the development of a healthy baby.

Did you know that about one third of the weight gained during pregnancy is fat? Your body does this on purpose! This storage of fat is most prominent during the first and second semester. Fat is stored opposite the growth rate of your baby, which is rapid during the last half. Stored fat provides a reserve of calories for you and your baby to use during the last few weeks of pregnancy when you may not be able to keep up with the nutritional needs of the baby. As you get bigger, it gets harder to eat large, heavy meals.

Just how much weight are you supposed to gain?

The first step is knowing your pre-pregnancy weight. Based on your weight before the baby-weight gain, you’ll know your projected target range. On average, a person should gain 1 pound every month during the first trimester. During the second and third trimester, you should gain about 3-4 pounds a month.

Pre-pregnancy weight                                          Recommended weight gain

  • Underweight (BMI < 18.5)                          28 to 40 lbs
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9)              25 to 35 lbs
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9)                      15 to 25 lbs
  • Obese (BMI 30 or more)                             11 to 20 lbs

Weight Breakdown:

  • Baby 7-8 pounds
  • Placenta 1-2 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid 2-3 pounds
  • Uterus 2 pounds
  • Increased blood supply 3-5 pounds
  • Fluid, fat, breast tissue 10 pounds

Total: 25-30 pounds

How To Manage Your Weight

I found the following suggestions helpful during those growing months.

1.) Cravings are very telling. Pay attention to your body. During my fifth month, I craved dairy like never before! I actually had my first glass of milk in years. That said- choose wisely.  Caramel toffee ice cream does not provide the same nutrition as kefir mixed with berries and a little honey. Select nutrient dense versions of your cravings. Usually it satisfies the craving just fine! 

2.) Stay away from refined grains and added sugars. These are not only going to be empty calories leading to excess weight gain, but they also exacerbate what is called “pregnancy brain.” This fogginess can be worsened by foods that spike and lower our blood sugars.

3.) Enjoy small, relatively frequent meals and snacks. As I mentioned in my previous pregnancy post, you are only supposed to eat 150-200 calories more during the first trimester, and about 300 calories during the second and third. That’s not a lot! It’s equivalent to an additional snack or small meal per day. I know that hardly seems fair, but frequent smaller meals can help you feel like you are having more food that you actually are.

4.) Stay active. I realized around week 22 that my back was achy and my legs would get  wobbly every time I would go up the stairs. This was new and not the norm! I realized that the additional weight was taking a toll on my body. So, I started working out with a prenatally certified trainer, Diane Giresi, CPT. Just one session a week has done the trick! A lot of squats, TRX movements, and planks have helped me with the weight progression. Exercise improves circulation, decreases fatigue, and helps you retain lean muscle - all of these things will help with a healthy delivery and the recuperation of your body post-pregnancy.

Recommendation: Do not start a new exercise routine during pregnancy. Get approval from your doctor on what you can and cannot do. In general, it is recommended to keep some kind of exercise regimen. My goal is to work out 3 times a week (for at least an hour) and walk as much as possible!

5.) Monitor your weight. Even though your doctor will be checking your weight at each visit, I suggest keeping track on your own even if it’s getting on the scale once a week. At the beginning, you are seeing your doctor once a month, and trust me, a lot can happen in just one month of pregnancy!

Stay tuned for the next post: Pregnancy & Digestion. Boy, do I have a lot to say about that!… 

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN. Edited by Tamara Cabrero. 

Recipe Alert: NYHRC's PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte)

It’s Pumpkin Spice Latte season! And you know those calories (mostly from sugar) can really add up. DIY and you’ll save bucks in your wallet and inches off your waist! 

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Hard workouts this week? You deserve a treat.

With this DIY PSL (pumpkin spice latte) you won’t have to turn around and get right back on that treadmill. Most PSLs have 200 calories, 20% daily intake of saturated fat and a whopping 25-30 grams of sugar (that’s 6 teaspoons on sugar). Making your own version cuts calories, fat, sugar and cost. This recipe is easy to make…even in the tiniest NYC kitchen.

Read More

Guest Hosting for Muscle & Fitness (Part 1)

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I was invited to be the nutrition expert for Muscle & Fitness’ 90-day program called RE:FORM. It was created for the every day man (or woman!), specifically to answer one major question: what’s the best way for someone who doesn’t go to the gym to go from “average” to “fit” in that much time? Tyler Stewart, Muscle & Fitness digital director, took the challenge.

The first part of the video provides great workout tips by Dan Trink, CSCS. The second part is a grocery shopping tour hosted by yours truly! For the food component go to the 3:30 mark. 

Re:Form Video Part 1

Stay tuned for following segments at Muscle & Fitness! 

Pichuberries: Peruvian Wonder #3

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Pic and recipe from Peru Delights. 

The pichuberry (also known as golden berries, cape gooseberries, or Inca berries) is a total superfruit! It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and phenols (high in antioxidants). Other properties of this unique fruit:

  • Jam-packed with cancer-fighting phytochemicals called withanolides that have been demonstrated to slow the growth of tumors
  • High in vitamin D; rare for a fruit. About ½ cup provides 160 IU of vitamin D (~25% of the daily value)
  • Great for controlling blood sugar levels because it is low on the glycemic index (25), high in fiber (5.5 grams), and relatively high in protein (2 grams). This is a great combination for diabetics and anyone looking to follow a healthy diet.

How To Use Pichuberries

Pichuberries can be used in an array of dishes. The fruit resembles a small yellow tomato, like a tomatillo. They possess a unique sweet, mildly tart flavor perfect for savory and sweet dishes. Some recipe ideas here. Truly diverse, savory dish ideas include chili, salsa, muffins, skewers, or quinoa salad (pictured) and for sweet dishes add them to cereal, yogurt, popsciles, or dunk them into melted dark chocolate and make frozen chocolate pichuberries! Yum.

Edited by Tamara Cabrero 

Maca: Peruvian Wonder #2

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Maca is a healing and rejuvenating root plant commonly known as “Peruvian Ginseng.” It is an adaptogen, which means it raises the physical body’s state of resistance to disease. It is typically taken as a pill, liquid extract or as powdered maca root (my favorite). As with most plant-based foods, color matters! Different maca types can be yellow, black and red. In addition to being high in calcium, iron, vitamin C and amino acids (protein), maca has other beneficial healing properties. To name a few:

  • Has the ability to regulate, support, and balance hormonal systems making it essential for the adrenal glands and therefore stress management
  • Increases energy levels and fights fatigue, specifically black maca
  • Improves sexual dysfunction and sexual desire in both in men and women (postmenopausal as well) as early as 14 days from ingestion
  • Increases fertility by raising sperm count and motility
  • Improves bone health- both black and red maca
  • Reduces anxiety, depression, and improves overall mood, shown in small study including postmenopausal women
  • Influences memory and learning, specifically black maca

How To Use & Store Maca

Powdered maca root can be added to smoothies, green juices, shakes, salads, yogurt, or simply mixed in water. Some experts suggest taking it on empty stomach at least 15 minutes before your meal for better absorption. Since maca is sensitive to light, oxygen, and humidity, I suggest storing in the fridge or freezer. Even though maca has received much attention over the past decade, research is still limited. Avoid using while pregnant and/or breastfeeding. 

Have you tried maca yet? 

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN

Pic from Veg Kitchen. Great article too!

Edited by Tamara Cabrero 

Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 193496.

Amaranth: Peruvian Wonder #1

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Peru is having quite a culinary moment. The United Nations declared last year, the “International Year of Quinoa”, quinoa being one of Peru’s most well known food exports. The following three posts will talk about the amazing ingredients of traditional Peruvian cuisine. You might even call them super!

Superfoods are touted as functional foods that exceed basic nutritional content. They don’t just offer macronutrients (carb, protein, fat) but contain amazing nutrients that go beyond basic nutrition. In addition to quinoa, some Peruvian superfoods (or “whole foods” as I prefer to call them) are papaya, cacao, yacón (similar to sweet potato), Ají peppers, purple potatoes and, my personal favorites: maca, pichuberries and  kiwicha, commonly known as amaranth.

Peruvian Wonder #1: KIWICHA or AMARANTH

Known in the United States as amaranth or colloquially “mini quinoa”, Kiwicha is a small grain noted for its dense nutritional content, slight nutty flavor, and chewy texture. In addition, it’s known for its healing properties; to this day it is still used during Day of the Dead festivities.

Nutrition Facts:

This ancient grain is packed with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. A ½ cup serving of cooked kiwicha provides 125 kcal, 4.7 grams protein, 2 grams of healthy fat, and 2.5 grams of fiber (mostly soluble fiber). 

Some other attributes worth mentioning:  

  • Anti-aging due to its anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties, specifically the high content of phenolic acids, carotenoids, flavonoids as well as an agent called squaline. 
  • Cardiopropertective! Studies have shown how kiwicha lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) as well as total cholesterol and triglycerides. The soluble fiber may something to do with that!  It also helps manage blood pressure. Two thumbs up for heart health!
  • Optimal plant protein meaning it contains all essential amino acids – specifically high in lysine, which is normally low in other grains.
  • Naturally gluten-free!

How To Use Amaranth 

Amaranth can be used in pilafs, added to salads and snack bars, or can be used to make granola or oatmeal (check out our very own #NYHRC RD oatmeal recipe!). You can also toast it quickly in a pan and “pop it” to a perfect consistency for breakfast cereals or energy bars. Another way of using kiwicha is by adding it to meat loaf or quick breads for a nutrition punch!

How to Store 

Like most grains, I like to keep them in a cool place, usually in a mason jar or a well-sealed container.

Pomegranate Amaranth Oatmeal (4 servings) 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked amaranth
  • 2½ cups unsweetened almond milk or skim milk 
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, for topping

Instructions:

  1. Bring milk/milk alternative to a gentle boil in a lidded pot
  2. Stir in the amaranth and sliced bananas and lower the heat
  3. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until grains have absorbed most of the liquid.
  4. Top with pomegranate arils and cinnamon. Voila!

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 267 calories, 5.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 123 g sodium, 48 g carbohydrates, 9.5 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 8.5 g protein.

Don’t forget to check out the following posts on Peruvian Food Wonders! 

Picture by John Lambert Pearson on Flickr. 

Pregnancy and Me & Baby Makes Three

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So, big news. I’m preggers! Yup. There is a tiny human growing inside of me. Such a  surreal experience, when you really think about it. My husband and I found out on Father’s Day; indeed a special day for my hubbie to learn that he’s going to be a dad! It was even more significant though because I felt like my own Papito was sending me a message or giving me his blessing, or both. He is deeply missed.

As you have probably guessed, this post is going to cover prenatal nutrition and the joys of pregnancy.

How Much Is Enough 

When you become pregnant, you often hear the expression, “Eat up! You’re eating for two now!” This statement is very deceiving. My doctor quickly put it to rest by clarifying, “Alanna, you are eating for 1.1, not 2.” Which means that even though your appetite may be off the charts with weird cravings and a hunger that tells, nay, screams at you to eat every two seconds, the reality is you should only be eating an additional snack of approximately 150-200 calories during the first trimester. If there is only one baby, the second and third trimester requires about 300 calories more - the size of a small meal a day, not double your food intake.

So what’s the trick to making you feel like you’re eating more without packing on the pounds uncontrollably? Eat throughout the day. I found it helpful to eat at least a little something every 2-3 hours. I went to town on fruits such as cherries, watermelon, and plums. I snacked on yogurt, cottage cheese, and hummus, being mindful of the types of “dippers/sauces” I was consuming. I couldn’t get enough peppers, cucumbers, and celery. And anything with lime and a little sea salt was like a little slice of heaven!  

Taming the Symptoms

I consider myself pretty lucky. I’ve had mild symptoms of nausea, headaches, and fatigue, which are all quite common but nothing overly debilitating. I found that the following tips really help subdue the symptoms significantly:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
  • Simple carbs
  • Fruit
  • Simple carbs with lean protein
  • Don’t overdo it on fat, especially fried food
  • Yogurt
  • Light smoothies
  • Small meals
  • Breathe

Why the baby-glow?

I personally believe that the famous “baby glow” has more to do with the absence of alcohol (and other “bad habits”) than anything else. Not that I have ever been a big drinker, but I have been known to indulge in an after-work drink now and again; cutting all alcohol from my diet entirely has made a HUGE difference. After all, alcohol is a toxin, regardless of the traces of resveratrol! FYI: Resveratrol is an antioxidant. 

Another culprit of that glow, being pregnant has forced me to listen to my body and get an enormous amount of shuteye. Living in a city like NYC, it’s hard to say no to that cool new art exhibit or even an invitation to just hang out with friends. But when you’re pregnant, the fatigue sinks in and you have nowhere to go but your bed.

Make the glow happen! I’ll keep you updated on any other new awakenings! 

 

Apricots: My Precious… Golden Apple

Referred to as “golden apple” in Greek mythology and meaning “precious” in Latin, apricots deserve way more glory than they receive. Often overshadowed by their fuzzy cousin, the peach, a fresh apricot has only 17 calories, 3 grams of sugar, and almost 1 gram of fiber.  What a find!  They are also high in potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C to boot, making this precious fruit an ideal low-calorie summer snack! 

But before you reach for that package of dried apricots, I would encourage fresh fruit whenever possible because the fresh stuff contains significantly less sugar per serving.  Dried fruit can be coated in a preservative, sulfite or sulfur dioxide, to maintain a bright color; many people have an intolerance to this preservative, experiencing head fog or head aches, wheezing, hives, and in some cases, anaphylaxis.

How to Pick

Apricots are easy to choose because they aren’t shy about showing signs of ripeness.  Fresh apricots are a bright orange-gold color and slightly soft.  They let off a  strong, sweet smell when they’re to ready to eat.  Avoid pale yellow or tinted green ones as they’re not quite ripe, and wrinkly apricots have gone bad.

How to Store

Keep in the refrigerator to avoid over-ripening.  You can also preserve apricots in the freezer.  If you purchase unripe apricots that are still hard, place them in a paper bag to speed up the ripening process.  Just remember to check on them daily to evaluate whether or not they are ready to eat; they should take about two or three days.

When to Buy

Did you know that 90-95% of the world’s apricots are grown right in California? They have a very short season, but you can find them at their freshest from mid-May to mid-August, so get them while you still can.

Here are a few recipes to try:

  • Goat Cheese Stuffed Apricots with Honey and Pecans by from Domestic Fits
  • Grilled Apricot Halves on a bed of salad. Yum. My favorite! Check out this recipe on Cooking Light.
  • Fruit Kebabs! Made with fresh or dried apricots, grapes, and any type of berry. Both kid and adult approved.

Have you gotten your apricot fix this Summer?

Co-written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN and Debi Zvi, RD, CDN
Edited by Tamara Cabrero

Detoxification: The Cold Pressed Truth

What do you think of when you hear the words detox and cleanse? Extreme Diet? Starvation? That really testy person at the office drinking something green? A healthy break from your favorite “bad” foods? The words detox and cleanse hold very different meanings depending on whom you ask. Today, they are typically associated with fads touted by those who are not qualified nutrition professionals, often celebrities. The popular notions tend to go hand in hand with extreme diets (remember The Master Cleanse?), the elimination of whole food groups (most juicing regimes), or significant and unhealthy calorie reduction, which is why most dietitians try to steer their clients away from “detoxing.” This isn’t because detoxification isn’t real—get this, it’s actually one of the processes our body does best! How else would we be able to handle the margaritas, hamburgers, and questionable dietary decisions after a long weekend?! Give a round of applause for your liver and kidneys!

While our bodies are performing detoxification functions on a daily basis, there is a lot we can do to support these processes, such as eating the right foods, proper portion control, hydrating, improving digestion and making better lifestyle choices (being active, practicing stress management). In some cases, aiding our bodies in detoxing can indicate dietary supplements but the theme here is balance, not extremes.

Detox In A Nutshell

This process depends on two main organs: your liver and the kidneys, but it’s really your liver that deserves most of the glory. Without going into too much detail, Phase 1 basically involves a family of enzymes breaking down and releasing toxins from your fat stores and metabolizing them further to water soluble molecules so that, in Phase 2 (also known as the “natural healing phase”) they can be excreted through urine, bile or stool. During detoxification, toxins are roaming in your blood stream, which can manifest as unpleasant symptoms like headaches, bad breath, skin outbreaks (acne, eczema, rashes), mucus buildup and changes in bowel movement or urinating patterns. All very attractive. But they proceed the “cleanse high”- when you actually feel the benefits of a good detox or cleanse program!

Detox vs. Cleanse

Although used interchangeably, they actually mean different things. Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body or neutralizing them, i.e. ridding yourself of the excess “gunk.” Cleansing, on the other hand, involves eliminating culprits like trigger foods, additives and  processed foods, while also introducing new and rejuvenating items to your diet, like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. As a Registered Dietitian, I encourage my clients to embrace the Detox+, a combination of ridding toxic substances while replenishing with healthy foods. Think of it as a whole-food based cleanse without the pesky hunger pangs or calorie counting that can lead to throwing a green juice at your boss’s head.  

So Why Detox+?

Detoxing or cleansing allows us to look at old patterns with a new awareness. If you’ve been feeling groggy, fatigued, having digestive issues, restless sleep, problematic skin, food intolerances, uncontrollable cravings or feeling all around icky—a monitored, mindful and properly executed Detox+ can shed light on the root of these problems.

Detox+ Supportive Nutrients

To support the already efficient detoxification system your body has set up for you, consider trying the nutrients below.

  • Eat up glutathione-rich foods, one ofthe most prevalent antioxidant enzymes in the body.

Sources: fruits (avocados, tomatoes, grapefruit, apples, oranges, bananas, melon), vegetables (peppers, carrots, onions, broccoli, squash, spinach, garlic), herbs (milk thistle), spices (such as cumin), selenium-rich foods (cereals, oats, Brazil nuts, walnuts, legumes, tuna, beef, poultry, cheese, eggs) and whey protein. If you can tolerate it, raw is better than cooked.

  • Protein. Certain amino acids found in protein aid in the detoxification process. Many of these are found in animal products (meat, organ meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy). But remember to take into account your own individual relationship and tolerance with these foods, specifically dairy.

Alternate sources: Brazil nuts, sea algae (spirulina), beans, oats, and wheat germ.

  • Boost fiber and fluid intake. This will help reduce the absorption of toxins and facilitate elimination while nourishing gut flora.

Sources: Foods rich in fiber are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Also promote foods that facilitate good bacteria growth, such as fermented and cultured foods like kombucha or yogurt. 

Other sources: kidney and black beans, prunes, pecan, red delicious and granny smith apples, cinnamon, and artichoke hearts.

  • Reduce/eliminate classic food allergens and intolerances. “The Big 8” encompasses 50-90% of all food allergies! These are casein (dairy), eggs, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Other intolerances include lactose (sugar in milk), sugar alcohols, fermentable fibers and other.These changes are best explored with the guidance of a dietitian.

Have you tried a detox or cleanse? What was your experience? Share with me @BushwickNutrition

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN 

Edited by Tamara Cabrero and NYHRC Team 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

CSA: Local Food Lover’s Delight

I am excited about CSA! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s exactly that. It gives you the opportunity to buy a “share” of fresh produce (like eggs, meat, and dairy) from a local farmer before the start of the season. You are essentially investing in a future crop. It’s a great and easy way for city dwellers to reap the nutrition and flavor benefits of high quality, fresh foods for pennies on the dollar while also supporting local agriculture!

How CSAs Work

  • CSAs typically offer amazing food throughout the warmer months. The “share” is purchased upfront to ensure that the farmer can adequately prepare for the season. Buy your share in March or April and get your bounty from June to October/November.
  • The farm you have chosen will deliver your share of produce to a convenient drop-off location on a prearranged schedule. CSA distribution sites vary but can be found all over the city, from gardens, and markets to housing developments and restaurants.

What to Expect

  • You will receive a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter listing the current share’s produce (usually 7-10 different types of vegetables and 1-3 different types of fruit).

Sample week of a fruit and vegetable share: 1 head romaine lettuce, 3 kohlrabi, 1 bunch collards, 1 pound purple string beans, 2 delicate squash, 3 sweet bell peppers, 1 bunch braising greens, 1 bunch arugula, 1 Italian eggplant, 3 pounds McIntosh apples

  • Some CSAs even provide delicious recipes featuring the week’s bounty!
  • Incredible fruits and vegetables, that will remind you just how flavorful and delicious healthy food can taste.
  • A BYO Bag operation—In the vein of going green, CSA’s make an effort to reduce waste so bring a few large reusable bags to hold your fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • A feeling of connectedness to your community.
  • Flexibility! There are many options in terms of the size of your share. You can find the best fit for your needs whether you are feeding a large family or cooking for one. Cost varies depending on the size and type of share.

Volunteering

  • As a CSA member, you are expected to volunteer about 2 hours per growing season at the distribution site because it really is a community effort.
  • Volunteers are asked to help take produce out of boxes, sign in fellow members, assist members choosing their allotted quantity of produce, weigh produce, or clean up.
  • It is a great opportunity to meet new and like-minded people, give back, and learn even more about your CSA.

Want to Learn More?

  • Just Foods is a wonderful resource to learn more about CSAs and has a search by zip code feature to help you locate a CSA near you!
  • For the next generation of CSAs, you will be able to purchase credits ahead of the harvest that you can spend any time throughout the growing season. This option is great for those who travel a lot or have unpredictable schedules, check out Holton Farms. 
  • Want the benefits of a CSA without any hassle and variety from various local farms? Fresh from the Farm 365 delivers your share directly to your door!  Their fresh local options span from fruits and vegetables to meat, dairy and even baked goods.  

Do you belong to a CSA? Which one and what do you love about it?

Co-Written by Debi Zvi, RD, CDN and Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN

Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

What's In An Egg?

May is National Egg Month!  Even though eggs (or should we say, egg yolks) are nutrient powerhouses, they have gotten a bad rap—mostly due to their dietary cholesterol content and its presumed link to heart disease. Here’s what you need to know…

Eggstra Special Nutrition

Eggs contain the most bioavailable protein of any food on earth—7 grams of protein per large egg, to be exact. They are loaded with 13 vitamins and minerals and all for a measly 70 calories!  

Get Cracking 

Research suggests that even though a whole egg has approximately 212 mg of cholesterol per large egg yolk, it has a marginal impact on our blood cholesterol, unless you have diabetes. Interestingly, it’s the types of fats in our diets (saturated vs. unsaturated) that influence our total cholesterol—lousy cholesterol (LDL) and healthy cholesterol (HDL)—more than the cholesterol found in foods.

In order to keep your cholesterol in check, you should reduce sources of saturated fat such as fatty pieces of meat, whole fat dairy (butter, cheese, whole milk), fried foods and baked foods. Consider swapping out the cheese for an egg and staying away from unhealthy pairings like bacon, cheese and buttered toast! 

How Many Eggs is One Too Many?

Three yolks per week are recommended by the American Heart Association in order to limit excess amount of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. If you do not have diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes, most research has shown that one whole egg a day is generally safe for the heart.

How To Choose

You can use the guide below to understand egg labels and claims. Choose eggs that align with your needs and preferences! Note: The color of the egg shell specifies the breed of chicken and does not affect the quality, flavor or nutrition of the egg. 

  • Cage Free: Hens are not kept in cages and may or may not have outdoor access.
  • Free Range: “Cage free” plus the birds must have continuous access to the outdoors.
  • Vegetarian-Fed: Hens eat feed with no animal products or by-products (feather meal and hen meal are allowed in conventional chicken feed).
  • Omega-3 Fortified: Hens are fed diets with flaxseed or algae, increasing the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs by up to 20 times that of non-fortified eggs.
  • Organic: “Free range” plus hens cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones. Their feed is organic per the National Organic Standards.
  • Pasture-Raised or Pastured: (Not legal terms) “Pastured eggs” come from hens that forage on bugs and grass (their natural diet). Often found at farmer’s markets.

Whats your favorite way to eat an egg? Share it with me on Bushwick Nutrition! 

Co-Written by Debi Zvi RD, CDN and Alanna Cabrero MS, RD, CDN 

Infographic by Debi Zvi, RD, CDN dzvi@nyhrc.com

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Reference: Skip the Egg Yolk, Skimp On Nutrition. Environmental Nutrition, March 2012

Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team

The Healthy Bones

We all know calcium builds strong bones, but did you know that it isn’t the only major participant when it comes to bone health? A balanced diet and good nutrition are essential for healthy bones. Calcium is a team player that acts best with other nutrients, like vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium. And let’s not underestimate the importance of exercise—especially weight-bearing exercises. Weight training and cardio activities such as swimming, squats, taking the stairs, Tai Chi and walking will help to improve bone strength and prevent hip fractures. During Osteoporosis Prevention Month, I want to share some tips for preserving strong bones at any age!

What is Osteoporosis & What Are the Risk Factors?   

Osteoporosis is a condition that makes your bones weak and, therefore, more likely to break. It’s known as the silent disease because you may not know you have it until you break a bone. Ouch! Approximately 10 million people over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone density, known as osteopenia, which puts them at high risk for developing osteoporosis. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but there are certain factors that put you at higher risk:

  • Getting older- Over 50 years of age and especially women after menopause
  • Being a white or an Asian woman. Eighty percent of the people who have osteoporosis are women and women are four times more likely to get it than men
  • Being small and thin 
  • Genetics- Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Taking certain medicines, such as steroids
  • Excess fat around the belly- New research even suggests that excess liver and muscle fat, independent of BMI, age and exercise, is detrimental to the strength of the bones
  • Smoking

The Nutrition Lowdown

1.)  Eat it to beat it: Choose foods rich in calcium, not just dairy. Even though increased dairy consumption has been consistently associated with lower rates of osteoporosis and better bone health, you can get calcium from many other sources. The recommended calcium intake for adults is 1000-1200 mg per day, dependent on age.  Estimate your average intake and fill in the gap with a supplement, if necessary. But remember, too much calcium is counterproductive! 

  • Fish, such as bone-in sardines, anchovies, salmon
  • Leafy greens, like kale, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, Bok Choy, broccoli rabe
  • Low-fat to full-fat dairy products (preferably Organic or local), such as yogurt, milk, cheese, kefir
  • Foods fortified with calcium, like orange juice, breakfast cereals, non-dairy milk alternatives (almond, rice, soy, coconut), breads or instant oatmeal
  • Bone broth

2.)  Check your vitamin D level. Vitamin D is hugely beneficial for bone health because it helps regulate calcium metabolism. Getting vitamin D from food or supplements is especially important if you are vitamin D deficient (<20ng/ml).

3.)  Increase your intake of plant-based foods. As previously mentioned, bone health is a team effort. Include foods rich in the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin K: Leafy greens such as kale, spinach and endives as well as any “green foods” such as celery, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and avocados are high in vitamin K.
  • Magnesium: Dark leafy greens along with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes are loaded with magnesium.
  • Potassium: Bananas aren’t the only foods that have potassium! Baked potatoes, avocados, mushrooms, squash, and, you guessed it, leafy greens are full of it!  

Bone Health Myth Busters 

Myth: Once you turn 50 you have to supplement with calcium. 

Fact: A 2012 analysis of NHANES data found that consuming a high intake of calcium beyond the recommended dietary allowance, typically from supplementation, provided no additional benefit.  Multiple studies found that calcium supplements don’t reduce fracture rates in older women and may even increase the rate of hip fractures. Calcium supplements have also been associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, increased prostate cancer risk and an increase in kidney stones. More is not always better! Getting calcium in smaller amounts can increase proper absorption without overloading the arteries or kidneys.

Myth: Dairy contributes to poor bone health by “acidifying” our bodies. The “acid-alkaline” hypothesis theorizes that dairy increases acid in the blood and, therefore, blood needs to restore balance by stealing alkaline minerals (such as calcium) from the bones, decreasing bone density. 

Fact: A diet including dairy does not affect our blood pHDairy and other acidic foods may affect our urine pH, which does change depending on what you eat, but that is eliminated when we urinate. 

Check your bone health by testing your bone mineral density, especially if you have any of the above-mentioned risk factors. Keep your bones healthy at every age! 

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN 

Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Spring Smoothie  
 As you probably remember from some posts back,  I prefer smoothies over juices . Partly because they are much easier to make (not so much cleaning involved), but also because all the nutrients remain intact - especially the fiber. One of the trickier aspects of making a smoothie is that the texture may not be so amenable. One thing to remember:  you can always add more water to manipulate the texture!   
 It was probably the ray of sunshine that inspired this smoothie, or maybe it was way too many dinners out this week. Either way- I am so grateful because even my husband said, and I quote:  &ldquo;I could have this drink every day for the rest of life.&quot;  I couldn&rsquo;t ask for a bigger compliment!  
  Green Smoothie Recipe  
 2 servings (16 ounces per serving)  
  1 cup of mango (fresh or frozen)  
 &frac14; cup of pineapple (fresh or frozen)  
 1 cup of arugula (fresh or frozen)  *** I used Arugula I had frozen myself  
 2 tablespoons of fresh mint (preferably)  
 1 tablespoon of  flaxseeds   
 1 tablespoon of  chia seeds  
 2 cups of water,  or more, if you want to change the consistency   
  Every serving is: 90 calories, 3 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of healthy fats. It is definitely not a meal replacement, but it&rsquo;s a great way to start your day!  
  Happy blending! 

Spring Smoothie

As you probably remember from some posts back, I prefer smoothies over juices. Partly because they are much easier to make (not so much cleaning involved), but also because all the nutrients remain intact - especially the fiber. One of the trickier aspects of making a smoothie is that the texture may not be so amenable. One thing to remember: you can always add more water to manipulate the texture! 

It was probably the ray of sunshine that inspired this smoothie, or maybe it was way too many dinners out this week. Either way- I am so grateful because even my husband said, and I quote: “I could have this drink every day for the rest of life." I couldn’t ask for a bigger compliment! 

Green Smoothie Recipe

2 servings (16 ounces per serving) 

  • 1 cup of mango (fresh or frozen) 
  • ¼ cup of pineapple (fresh or frozen) 
  • 1 cup of arugula (fresh or frozen) *** I used Arugula I had frozen myself
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh mint (preferably) 
  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds 
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 2 cups of water, or more, if you want to change the consistency 

Every serving is: 90 calories, 3 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of healthy fats. It is definitely not a meal replacement, but it’s a great way to start your day! 

Happy blending! 

Fermented & Cultured Foods 101

image

(Kvass Soup, Kefir, Pickles)

Fermented and cultured foods have long been touted for their health benefits, but do you know why? A staple in many cultures, fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and kombucha, and cultured foods like kefir, Greek yogurt and buttermilk promote the proliferation of good bacteria in our gut, which aid in digestion and boost our immune system. Having a healthy gut filled with good bacteria, known as probiotics, can help us reduce gas and bloating after meals and even shed a few pounds!

Fruits, vegetables and fiber from whole foods can help promote the growth of strong, healthy bacteria, but, unfortunately, many things in our environment wreak havoc on a healthy gut.

Good Bacteria, Don’t Go! 

Step 1: Don’t eat processed foods. Many ingredients in processed foods are foreign to our digestive tract and we are not equipped with the right enzymes to break them down. Unhealthy bacteria feed on these foreign ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, which cause them to proliferate and potentially outnumber the healthy bacteria. An uncomfortable side effect of this process is gas, which makes us feel bloated. Cutting down or avoiding processed foods, as well as adding cultured and fermented foods, can help the good bacteria flourish.

Step 2: Check your antibiotic use. Along with wiping out the bacteria that makes us sick, antibiotics clear the healthy lining of good bacteria in our gut. If you are prescribed antibiotics for longer than three days, you may consider taking a probiotic supplement during and for at least a week after treatment. Recommendations can range anywhere from 1 to 30 Billion CFU’s (Colony Forming Units) per day, depending on age and symptoms. Some of my favorite probiotic supplements include: Align® probiotic, Culturelle® probiotic, Designs For Health probiotic synergy, and Garden of Life raw probiotics. 

How can we bring the good bacteria back?

Eat cultured and fermented foods! (Of course…) These foods contain healthy bacteria, yeasts and/or fungi that set up shop in our gut as we digest them. To start, aim for one serving of these cultured and fermented foods per day.

Here is a list of fermented and cultured foods to try:

Fermented

  • Pickles
  • Pickled Fruits and Vegetables
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Homemade Ketchup
  • Kimchi
  • Kvass
  • Fermented Salsa
  • Sourdough Bread 

Cultured

  • Kefir
  • Buttermilk
  • Cultured Sour Cream (low fat)
  • Lebneh Cheese (low fat)

Let me know what your favorite cultured or fermented food is at Bushwick Nutrition! 

Co-Written by Debi Zvi RD, CDN & Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Reference: Probiotics & Fermented Foods. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op. 

Edited by the Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team 

Kombucha: The Healthy Alternative to Soda

image

Looking to quench your thirst and kick your soda addiction? Finally, there is a delicious and healthy alternative—kombucha! What is that? Kombucha is a fermented tea that typically includes a mixture of yeast, good bacteria, a natural sweetener and black tea. It’s fizzy like soda but very low in sugar—2 grams per 8 ounce serving versus 27 grams for soda. 

Kombucha Nutrition

Kombucha is known as a functional food, or drink in this case, as it has additional health benefits. Functional foods don’t just provide us with energy in the form of fat, carbohydrates and protein, but they also contain properties that promote health. In this case, kombucha is an antioxidant-rich drink with organic acids, enzymes, probiotics and B vitamins. The organic acids remove toxins from the liver and digestive tract. The enzymes and probiotics aid in nutrient absorption, gut health, waste removal and support immune function, and the B vitamins enhance metabolism.

Raw kombucha is sold in its original flavor or with aromatics like ginger, fruit—ranging from pomegranate to passion fruit and the trending superfood, chia seeds. It has a unique sweet-sour taste that some liken to a great beer. Oh yeah! 

Tips for Kombucha Consumption

  • Make sure your kombucha is raw. Pasteurized kombucha is high in sugar and has very few of the health benefits compared to its raw counterpart because the good bacteria has been destroyed.
  • As it is often made from fermented black tea, most kombucha has a bit of caffeine and a trace amount of alcohol.
  • You can find Kombuchu at local stores or delivered to your front door from Fresh Direct
  • You might even consider making your own!

Have you tried kombucha? What’s your favorite flavor? Let me know @BushwickNutrition 

Written by Debi Zvi, RD, CDN and Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN

Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr