Meat: I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with You


Picture by Peter Hellberg 

We need to address the elephant in the room… meat. A staple of the American diet, meat is a big one of the big taboo topics for my clients. On average, Americans consume 8 oz of meat per day, including beef, pork, and poultry- 45% more than the USDA recommends and three times the global average. That is roughly 200 pounds of meat per person per year!   As much as we personally believe we can’t live without meat in our diets, with the Paleo Diet, South Beach and Atkins Diet ringing in our ears, research tells a different story.

Let’s Take a Look at the Numbers

The popular calorie counting app, My Fitness Pal, reports that a generic burger with lettuce, tomato, mayo, pickle, onion and a bun comes to a whopping 942 calories, 59 grams of fat (37% of which is saturated fat!), 1,000 mg sodium and 57 grams of carbohydrates (refined, of course). The ugly truth is that this good old-fashioned burger provides half your recommended daily intake of calories and sodium, and far exceeds the recommended daily intake of fat and saturated fat. To make matters worse, most people wolf it down in ten minutes or less.

Veggie Power & The Chronic Connection

In order to develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2010, the USDA conducted extensive research defining what the “ideal nutrition intake” should be. This process revealed exciting health benefits, “Vegetarian-style eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes, including lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure and lower total mortality.” This should come as no surprise when we think about what vegetarian style food sources contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy unsaturated fats, phytochemicals and low glycemic carbohydrates. Most vegetarian foods are naturally low in saturated fat, dietary cholesterol and toxins like nitroso compounds, heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and glycation—end products formed in cooking, curing and processing meats. Not only do these toxins increase risk of cancer but they also speed up the aging process. Research has also shown that vegetarians have a lower overall rate of cancer and that plant-based diets (including plant-proteins) have been linked to a 20% lower risk of developing breast cancer. I’ve got your attention now; I bet! 

What To Do? 

Don’t panic! If you are not ready or willing to give up meat, there are small changes you can make to improve your health. Ever heard of Meatless Mondays? Choose one day a week and strive to cut meat from your diet that same day every week. Another option is to avoid meat for one daily meal. For instance, if you have a bacon, egg, and cheese every morning, try a vegetarian omelet instead. And if you are cutting back or eliminating meat from your diet, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Make sure you include foods high in protein and rich in iron and vitamin B12, since those are naturally high in meat-based foods. See the suggestions below to help you maintain a well-balanced diet. 

Vegetarian sources of protein:

  • Milk
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Kefir
  • Eggs
  • Legumes (beans & lentils)
  • Soy/Tofu/Tempeh
  • Nuts or seeds such as hemp or pumpkin seeds
  • Seitan (contains gluten)
  • Whole grains

Vegetarian sources of Iron*

  • Dark leafy Greens
  • Legumes (beans & lentils)
  • Fortified cereal
  • Soybeans
  • Molasses

*Eat with foods high in Vitamin C like lemon or tomatoes to enhance iron absorption

*Males should aim for 8 mg and women 18 mg per day 

Vegetarian sources of vitamin B12**

  • Eggs
  • Fortified Cereal
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Milk and Yogurt

*Adults should aim for 2.4 mcg per day

Try The Meatball Shop’s Veggie Balls!Delicious and nutritious! 

Thinking of cutting back on meat? What is your motivator? Tell me at #BushwickNutrition.

Written by Debi Zvi, RD, CDN 

Edited by Alanna Cabrero and Tamara Cabrero 

Fashion Forward Veggies


The last time I went to the supermarket I was astonished to find they were out of broccoli. Then my colleague shared that she had to go to three different supermarkets to find kale. It seems that vegetables have become more popular than ever. With the organic industry boom, community supported agriculture on the rise, and locally sourced foods and farmer’s markets popping up left and right, eating healthy couldn’t be more exciting and accessible. As a foodie who believes that all whole foods are super foods, I absolutely love that vegetables are finally enjoying the spotlight.

Variety is the key to a healthy diet, not only because different foods have unique nutritional properties, but also because it is the best way to avoid the health halo in which we risk turning something we love into something we can’t stand.  These fashionable and varying veggies make it much easier to say “Don’t forget to eat your veggies, they’re delicious!” without any irony. 

Behold Cruciferous Vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, arugula, bok choy and cabbage are popular examples of cruciferous vegetables. These veggies are super rich in nutrients including several phytochemicals; vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They are naturally low in calories, carbs and are low on the glycemic index. They are also a great source of fiber! Animal studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables have active compounds that are generally believed to inhibit the development of cancer (specifically bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach).  Incorporating at least six cups raw or three cups cooked cruciferous veggies into your daily diet is linked to lowered cancer risk, protects against mental decline, and improved heart, bone and eye health! 

With a cred list like that, you can’t go wrong loading up on cruciferous vegetables.  But how can you add these delicious foods to your recipe repertoire?  

Tip 1: Clean you veggies, especially leafy cruciferous greens like kale. Always practice proper food safety even with vegetables.

Tip 2: Steam, sauté or stir-fry to maintain some of the beneficial nutrients, specifically water-soluble vitamins such as folate (vitamin B). 

Tip 3: Use aromatic flavors such as garlic, onion and herbs to create tasty low-calorie side dishes.

Cooking Ideas 

Arugula: Use in salads, on pizza, with pasta, in a sandwich or Panini, with eggs and in quiches. Try the arugula pesto from Blog Lovin. 

Cauliflower: Add pureed cauliflower to basically anything and add nutritional value without changing the flavor. This is a great trick not only for you but also for kids!  Add to mac and cheese, pizza dough, cookie dough, mashed potatoes and bean dip. Join the caulimania and enjoy the roasted buffalo cauliflower bites from Clean and Delicious. 

Kale: Use in soups, pesto, salads, smoothies, veggie burgers, wontons, savory pastries, pastas and in burritos. Try this awesome kale and roasted squash quinoa salad from Eating Clean Recipes. Great for every meal! 

How are you going to incorporate cruciferous veggies in your diet? 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

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

Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team 

Picture from BlogLovin, Eating Clean Recipes, and 123rf on Flickr.