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. 

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Turkey Chili

Give this recipe a try! It’s perfect for this wintry season. It’s a perfect mix of protein and carbohydrates. You can “cook once and eat twice” saving yourself time and energy for the long week ahead. Oh, and it’s quite simple to make! 


This dish has all the benefits of a balanced, protein-packed, energy boosting meal. It’s an excellent way to replenish both protein and carbs after working out. Plus, this recipe is easy to make into a vegetarian option by omitting the ground turkey.

The Lowdown:

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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! 


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.

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Wham! Bam! Strawberry Pop!

Strawberries are the most cultivated berry in the country, and lucky for us in the Northeast, they are the first fruit to ripen in spring and early summer. These delicious heart-shaped fruits are naturally sweet and simply jam-packed with healthy nutrients such as fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin C and phytochemicals. Here are a few of their benefits:

  • Fiber helps us feel fuller, longer (increasing satiety)
  • Folate lowers our homocysteine blood levels and therefore aids in heart health
  • Vitamin C helps support a healthy immune system
  • Potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure
  • Phytochemicals, specifically flavonoids, give strawberries their bright color and contain cancer-fighting properties

Nutrition Facts

One cup of strawberries has only 45 calories, absolutely no fat, zero sodium, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of natural sugars and 1 gram of protein. Strawberries also give any dish a punch of color and are generally considered people pleasers, satisfying even the pickiest of eaters—you know who you are!

How To Buy Strawberries

I don’t usually push for shopping organic, but in this case, I definitely recommend choosing local or organic strawberries if possibleStrawberries are #2 on the Dirty Dozen List for 2014, which means they are on the top tier of produce that has the highest amount of pesticides. Their skin is so thin that pesticides can easily slip in and are hard to clean out; research has even shown that conventionally grown strawberries are lower in cancer-fighting phytochemicals! Nothing beats fresh, local berries, but frozen works just as well in a pinch.

Outside the Box Strawberry Recipes

  • Sweet and savory meets the strawberry. Give strawberry, balsamic vinegar and basil ice pops a shot! Balsamic Vinegar, a naturally acidic food, provides a great tartness that pairs beautifully against the natural sweetness of strawberries. See recipe below!
  • Can’t go wrong with chocolate-covered strawberries. Make sure they’re made with dark chocolate—70% cocoa, of course! An easy alternative, sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder on fresh strawberries.
  • Grill them! Summer is the season for grilling, and this is a delicious and healthy addition to any menu. Place strawberries on wooden skewers, add a dash of powdered sugar and grill no more than 3 minutes on each side.
  • Pump up your salad by adding strawberries to your favorite leafy greenssuch as spinach, arugula or any bitter greens.
  • Make a guilt-free sundae. Use strawberries as your base and add a small scoop (no more than ½ cup) of ice cream.
  • Top it off with strawberries. Layer on top of whole-grain cereal, oatmeal or low-fat yogurt for breakfast or a sweet snack.
  • Bring the fiesta with a fruit-based salsa made of strawberries, pineapple, lime and cilantro. Add the salsa to grilled chicken or fish!
  • Make a strawberry smoothie. Yum!

Strawberry, Balsamic Vinegar & Basil Popsicles

Makes 10 popsicles (A little more than 3 cups = 25 ounces). Each popsicle is 45 calories. 

  • 2 cups of strawberries- tightly packed, thawed if frozen 
  • ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • ½ lime
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Water as needed

Mix strawberries, sugar, vinegar and lime in a blender. Add enough water to total 3 ¼ cups. Blend really well. Add basil and pulse blender, enough so that you can still see little pieces of basil. Add to pop maker and freeze. Trust me, they are delicious! 

What is your favorite recipe showcasing the strawberry? Share with me at Bushwick Nutrition! 

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN 

Recipe Adapted from People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop 

Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team 

Initially posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Kombucha: The Healthy Alternative to Soda


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  

Tackling Temptation and Eating Healthy: Metro

I’ve been working with Amanda for a little less than a month. Not only has she been able to lose 15.5 pounds in this short time, she has included more home-cooked meals into her diet, started eating better snacks, and has followed a very consistent exercise regimen, among other accomplishments.

But like any dietary or lifestyle change (exercise, sleeping more, fostering good relationships, etc), it takes a lot of time and effort. As she describes in this weeks Metro article, temptation is everywhere in NYC.

So, what do you do? I suggest you click and learn from her awesome journey. Go Amanda!

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. 

Pulp It Up!

Since Bushwick Nutrition covered the pros and cons of juicing in the July 2013 Juicing Vs Blending 101 post, the juicing craze has only picked up momentum. Even those who notoriously avoided the kitchen have jumped on the juicing bandwagon, whipping up creative combinations that are bursting with flavor and nutritional value. Let’s squeeze out even more nutritional benefits from this juicing addiction. Did you know you can use the power packed pulp?

Pulp Facts, Not Fiction

In case you have yet to tango with a juicer yourself, let me explain the basics.When you juice fruits, veggies, or other, your juicer separates the juice (extract) into one container and the fiber (or pulp) into another. Most people who juice tend to throw away this pulp. It’s true that much of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are in the juice, but there are actually nutrients left in the pulp, not to mention all the great fiber. As a Registered Dietitian,I am extremely pro-fiber and hate to see such rich pulp go to waste when there are so many exciting ways to use this secret source of nutritional power. Throwing the pulp away is an even more perplexing phenomenon because most people only get 50% of their recommended daily allowance of fiber!

For people who have difficulty digesting fiber, juicing may be their only option. But for most people, fiber is essential. Research suggests that fiber reduces the risk of CVD, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and certain gastrointestinal disorders (constipation, reflux, ulcers,). In addition, it improves cholesterol levels, such as total cholesterol and LDL (Lethal) cholesterol. Fiber is also imperative in the management of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, making it a great nutrient for people with diabetes or those who are at risk for developing diabetes.  And of course, fiber helps us feel full for a longer period of time, contributing to a healthy body weight. 

So in order to take advantage of this excess fiber, while reducing waste and getting our green on, here are ways to use the pulp. Let’s pulp it up! 

Consider that fruit-based pulp lends itself to sweet recipes while vegetable-based pulp makes for better savory dishes. Adding pulp to any of the recipe ideas below adds quick nutritional properties, taste and texture to any meal or snack.

Fruit-Based Recipe Ideas

  • Smoothies
  • Pancakes
  • Pulp-cicles
  • Pulp-cubes
  • Bread  
  • Jam
  • Muffins

Veggie-Based Recipe Ideas

  • Pasta Sauce
  • Guacamole
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Salads
  • Tacos
  • Quesadillas
  • Savory Bread
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Cream Cheese
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Rice Pilaf
  • Casseroles

It is incredible how many recipes are available online with pulp as a primary ingredient. And it makes sense! You get twice the value for your buck, twice the nutrition and fiber and the satisfaction of minimizing unnecessary waste. Try out the simple recipe below and embrace the power of pulp! 

Juice Pulp Bread Adapted from The Fresh Beet

  • 2 cups pulp (in this case, carrots, beets, and ginger)
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup of canola or coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey or Agave nectar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup nuts, chopped
  • ½ cup raisins or cranberries, no added sugars (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg or clove
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

1. Beat together oil and honey, then add eggs, vanilla and pulp.

2. Sift dry ingredients and add to pulp mixture.

3. Add nuts last.

4. Bake in a greased 9″loaf pan at 350 F for 50 to 60 minutes.

There are endless opportunities to use pulp in recipes. Have you tried using pulp? 

Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD

Originally posted at NYHRC Tumblr 

Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team 

Keep The Weight Off For Good


It’s no great secret that we can be pretty hard on ourselves. The wave of guilt that sinks in when we skip a workout or give into our sweet craving can be just as toxic to our health as the cupcake that started that downward spiral. Studies have shown that the feeling of guilt after consuming those “forbidden foods” can cause people to gain even more weight! Let go of the guilt.

The thing is, we all slip sometimes, but we don’t have to unravel or beat ourselves up over it. In fact, it can be good to indulge in a sweet now and then as long as it feels like a treat and not the beginnings of a bad habit. Enjoyment of food is essential for healthy, happy living.  And if you take the time to enjoy your food you are less likely to overeat.

I have never had a client that didn’t “fall off the wagon”, so to speak. Hey, cupcakes happen. My advice is to savor that treat and then hit the reset button. Don’t let choosing a cozy movie night over a trip to the gym stretch into a week on the couch, or that one slice of pizza lead to a bucket of wings. You can always fix it at the next meal!

Tips To Keep The Weight Off

Diets have an expiration date. The word implies a beginning and end, which is why they don’t work. Losing weight and keeping it off requires a lifestyle change, including healthier food and healthier behaviors. The real secret to keeping the weight off is replacing bad habits with good ones. Once you realize and accept that and once you find the fun in keeping fit, you won’t have to worry about backsliding ever again. A few ways to make sure you don’t gain the weight back:

1)    Track your habits. Despite our best intentions, it is surprisingly easy to be dishonest with ourselves about our behaviors. I don’t eat that many carbs. I go to the gym almost every day. Do you really? Keeping a food diary, monitoring your weight once a week and keeping a workout schedule will help you avoid those extra pounds from creeping up. One of my favorite tracking tools are MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, and SparkPeople.

2)    Slow down and chew your food. Most of us can feel completely satisfied eating 20% less food than we normally do; the problem is how to naturally stop ourselves? By chewing more! A recent study showed that by chewing your food more (double what you normally chew), participants ate 15% less. I recommend chewing your food 15-20 times per bite. I love this trick, because there is no deprivation required! 

3)    Promote healthy bacteria in your gut! Preliminary research has shown that eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and probiotic-rich foods (yogurt, kefir, kimchee, pickles, miso) encourages microbes associated with leanness to quickly become incorporated in the gut actually helping you lose weight (or become leaner). A diet high in saturated fat and low in fruits and veggies does exactly the opposite. 

4)    Get your zzzz’s. Too little sleep (less than 7 hours) has been associated with weight gain. Getting enough sleep helps restore energy, regulate necessary hormones and helps us make better choices throughout the day. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, after a poor night’s sleep, all you want is a quick sugary pick me up… 

5)    Work with a Registered Dietitian. Like me! Woot woot! We can help you come up with an individualized plan that works for your needs and around your schedule so you can finally say goodbye to that excess weight for good.  Dietitians can also answer your nutrition questions and dispel food myths using evidence-based practices.

6)    Be active. It is imperative to do some form of exercise to maintain weight loss and increase lean muscle. Stick to something that you enjoy doing and be consistent. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week; whether you want to work out 30 minutes 5 times a week or 50 minutes 3 times a week is up to you. 

How are you going to keep the weight off in 2014?

Co-written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD and Tamara Cabrero

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

2014 Food & Fitness Trends!

Getting fit, losing weight and feeling great are always top priorities for the New Year. How we achieve these goals is constantly evolving to fit our busy, eclectic lifestyles. 

Here are a few of the top food and fitness trends for 2014!

Clean Eating. I don’t mean practicing food safety like washing your greens, the idea behind Clean Eating is to eat foods in their “whole” state. With increased awareness of frankenfood (GMOs) or fake foods, people are paying more attention to what they put in their bodies rather than just looking at calories and grams of fat. This means staying away from processed/refined foods and additives like artificial chemicals (i.e. artificial sweeteners), flavors and preservatives. Next time you have a meal, ask yourself: Is this food or foodstuff? 

Farm-to-Table. Following in the footsteps of the clean eating approach, choosing cleaner, sustainable, exotic meats (like goat and rabbit that come from small-scale producers) as well as seasonal produce from local farmers offers a new feel-good approach to eating. A few of my favorite farm-to-table restaurants in NYC are Rosemary’s (don’t forget to visit the rooftop garden that supplies their kitchen!), Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn (where I had my wedding reception—oh yeah, ahead of the trend!) and Blue Hill NY (you can also visit their farm).

Promoting Healthy Gut Bacteria. It’s just not enough to take away foods that may be bad for your gut, i.e. the Standard American Diet (appropriately called SAD); we also have to promote a happy gut. The hundreds of trillions of bacteria (or lack thereof) may predispose us to obesity and a whole range of inflammatory chronic diseases including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and perhaps cancer. Eating foods high in fiber such as whole grains, vegetables, fruit (not just supplements), fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yogurt, kombucha and kefir increase our microbial diversity and keep our gut healthy.

Egg Yolks Are Back! Woohoo! Blood cholesterol (aka having high cholesterol) is strongly affected by saturated fat, but not so much by dietary cholesterol. So, unless you are at particularly high risk for cardiovascular disease, there is no need to shun the egg yolk! This awesome whole food is loaded with choline associated with brain health; lutein and zeaxanthin two antioxidants particularly great for eye health and vitamin D, a vitamin that most Americans highly lack.

Fishy Fish. I get it; most people have a love hate relationship with anchovies and sardines. But there is no denying these fish are really good for you. They are extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids, amazing for your skin, hair and heart. In addition, they are chockfull of calcium and vitamin D. They are also on the bottom of the seafood chain, so they are naturally low in mercury and PCBs. If you are interested in the canned fish experience, check out Maiden Lane in the East Village. If you’re not sure what to order, try their excellent fish board!

Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts. I will be talking more about these amazing vegetables in later posts, but for now, all I can say is—eat them. These cruciferous super vegetables are incredibly beneficial to your health, versatile and go well with just about anything.

Express Workouts. High intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of exercise with brief recovery breaks. Jenn Hamlin, a group fitness instructor at NYHRC, describes Tabata, a specific form of HIIT, as the perfect New York workout. “It enhances your athletic performance activating both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems and spikes your caloric expenditure while decreases body fat in the shortest amount of time!” It’s an efficient method of training that still gives you time to grab lunch. 

Corporate Wellness. Ask about Worker Incentive Programs. These are part of employer-based health promotion programming and health care benefits. They are becoming very popular and many businesses offer them. Imagine how quickly you would achieve your goals if you also paired it with nutrition counseling!

What trend are you looking forward to trying out in 2014?

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN  


Fitness Trends 2014: 20 Popular Workouts For The Year Ahead. Huffpost Living. 

2014 Nutrition trends and their nutrition benefits. Rachel Begun.  

The Top 8 Healthy Food Trends for 2014. Wake Up World. 

10 Fitness and Wellness Trends of 2014. Well+Good’s

Fitness trends 2014: Zumba not the HIIT the trendspotters thought 

Exciting new fitness trends are making workouts easier. The Wellness Advisor, Fall 2013/ Winter 2014.

Edited by Tamara Cabrero 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Tricks & Treats


As a nutritionist, Halloween is a challenging holiday for me. Did you know that almost $2 billion worth of candy is sold each Halloween? That’s roughly 1,280 billion calories! I used to be a candy junky and I can’t even wrap my head around those numbers.

 When approaching Halloween, remember, “Halloween is a holiday, not a season.” Establish limits and try to keep candy, pastries and chocolate consumption to a minimum. This can get especially tricky (pun intended) when dealing with children.

A Few Tricks to Enjoy The Treats:

  • Try new recipes! “Black Bean Brownies” may not sound appealing, but they are delicious! I recommend keeping the main ingredient a secret until they have been wolfed (I’m on a Halloween roll) down. I promise no one will ever know. They are that good! Each brownie has 85 calories, 2 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fiber. They are also, ahem, gluten free. Recipe (see below) is revised from Chocolate Covered Katie.
  • Out of sight, out of mouth. Don’t leave candy, chocolate or pastries in plain sight. I recommend putting them in a cupboard or drawer. Save your cravings for the big night! 
  • How much is enough? Establish how many pieces you (and, if applicable, your children) are allowed per day and be specific. After all, 4 bite-sized candies can add up to ~320 calories! 
  • Eat mindfully. Place candy / chocolate wrappers in view so you can keep track. If you get rid of the evidence, you are more likely to overindulge.
  • Remember there are consequences. Sugary candy leads to tooth decay, which leads to expensive dentist visits. Additionally, think about the amount of exercise you will have to do to burn off all that candy. One little fun size Snickers bar takes 7-minutes of swimming to burn off. One peanut butter cup is equivalent to 16-minutes of cycling. One mini kit-kat bar is only burned off after a 12-minute walk. Ten tiny candy corns will cost you 9-minutes of jogging!   
  • Donate extra candy, bring it to the office or host a post-Halloween party. I am not a fan of wasting food. Better to share than throw away!

Special Tricks for Treating Children and Yourself!

  • When trick-or-treating, provide a smaller bag to limit the amount of candy.
  • Do not go out on an empty stomach. Everyone makes better choices when they’ve had a balanced meal. The more satisfied you are, the more likely you are to follow your allotted daily portions.
  • Provide healthier treats. I won’t tell you to cut out sweets entirely because that could lead to some really upset (but hilarious) children and even adults (see video). I suggest replacing standard sweets with roasted pumpkin seeds, sugar free gum, animal-shaped crackers, granola bars and dark chocolate. Fruit bars, raisin boxes, pretzels, homemade trail-mix, and even fruit are some more great choices. (I know, I know, I just recommended fruit to replace candy). 
  • No need to hand out toothbrushes or floss strips if you want to be extra health-conscious. Consider giving out fun items like eye-ball bouncy balls, temporary tattoos, plastic spider rings, bubbles, glow sticks and fake teeth / fangs!
  • Treat yourself by shaping up. Put on some Halloween tunes and try out some fun activities like pumpkin carving, limbo, charades or dancing! Here are a few songs to get you motivated: Black Cat by Janet Jackson, Thriller by Michael Jackson, Spookshow Baby by Rob Zombie, Scary Monsters by David Bowie and Ghostbusters by Raw Parker Jr.

Most importantly, have a fun Halloween! Enjoy yourself but be careful with overindulging. No one outgrows the inevitable sugar crash and tummy ache!

Black Bean Brownie Recipe

Servings: 15 portion-controlled brownies

  • 15 oz can of low sodium, black beans. Drain and rinse thoroughly.
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (heat up in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, just before using)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp of coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all “wet” ingredients first: sweetener, beans and vanilla. Then slowly add all other ingredients into mix. Blend until completely smooth. Pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra coconut or chocolate chips over the top. Cook for 25-30 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

What is your favorite Halloween treat?

Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 


Tricks for enjoying Halloween treats in a healthy way. Philly.com  

Choose this, not that, for Halloween treats. 9 News.

Tricks and Treats: Halloween the Healthy Way Presentation. Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutritionists. Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Edited by TCabrarr 

Oysters: Vegan on a Half Shell?


Pictured are oysters from The Breslin with dill pickle juice – unexpectedly delicious.  

Oysters remind me of my dad; he would eat a dozen at a time. He loved to go to oyster bars and watch the diligent shucking process. Yet, I never really knew about their awesome nutritional value until I started eating them myself.  Oysters are definitely having their day in the sun—they are everywhere!  

Oysters are usually associated with their aphrodisiac nature. One reason is because of their high zinc content. Zinc can boost testosterone levels, which has a positive effect on libido. Another reason, some say, is their shape and texture. I have read that Casanova used to eat oysters for breakfast. I never thought oysters were sexy but hey, whatever floats your boat!  

Highly Sustainable

Oysters are part of the mollusk family. Along with their sexy reputation, they are actually great for your health. Like clams and mussels, they are filter feeders. This means they filter up to 50 gallons of seawater per day feeding on the tiny plankton (bottom of the food chain) and micronutrients that exist naturally in the marine environment. Oysters are on the “super green list.” They are one of the top healthiest and most beneficial seafood because 95% of all consumption comes from oyster farms that help clean, benefit and support the environment in which they grow. Most oyster farming operations are very well managed and produce a sustainable product without using pesticides or GMO-grown grains.  

Good Vegan Protein Source

Yup—you heard correctly. Oysters do not have a central nervous system and are unlikely to feel pain. They do not respond to injury like other animals and can be included as an ethical source of natural vitamin B12 (a nutrient that is lacking in a vegan diet). And they pack an average of one gram of protein per shell.

Nutritional Profile  

Oysters are one of the most nutritious foods per calorie. They are an excellent source of zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, lean protein and healthy fats—specifically omega-3 fatty acids (DHA + EPA). One serving of oysters (equivalent to 6 medium-sized oysters or ~3 oz) is a good source of calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. Since oysters are high in many B vitamins they are considered a good source of nutrition for cognitive health. Oysters are also low in sodium and cholesterol, 180mg and 85mg respectively. A serving is only 43 to 58 calories, dependent on the type. 

How to Choose

Taste will vary but fresh oysters should smell of sea water without being too fishy. Fresh oysters should always be on ice. My dad would always make sure the oyster was attached to the shell; for him it was a sign of freshness and confirmed that the oysters weren’t taken from a can and placed on the shell!

Some common east coast oysters are Blue Points (Long Island), Wellfleets (Cape Cod), Chincoteagues (Virginia) and Apalachicolas (Florida). I highly recommend you chew your oyster (at least a little) to allow the flavors to saturate your palate. If the taste is a little too “fishy” add a tinge of lemon, lime or fresh horseradish. The Oyster Blog has a great NYC oyster guide, including all the oyster deals

They all have different palate appeal and this is highly dependent on the salt content. East coast oysters (Atlantic) are smaller, brinier / saltier and milder than the west coast (Pacific) oysters, which have a creamier, sweeter taste. The west coast oysters also have a distinct, sharply pointed shell compared to the flatter eastern oyster.

Caution: Raw Oyster Safety

Generally, raw oysters are safe to eat but just as with the consumption of any type of raw fish or seafood, there is the possibility for food-borne illness. Shellfish are still among the most common sources of food poisoning in the U.S. every year; oysters alone are responsible for ~15 deaths per year. Food safety is a primary concern and you should order from places you trust. The biggest issue is usually refrigeration; fresh oysters should be refrigerated at <40 F. Oysters may be contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus (grows quickly in warm waters) or put you at risk for contacting hepatitis A. If someone is immunocompromised, they should not be eating anything raw.  

Would you consider oysters as part of a vegan diet?

Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Consider the Oyster. Why even strict vegans should feel comfortable eating oysters by the boatload. Slate

10 Most Underrated Health Foods. Summer Tomato

How to choose oysters. Cookthink

Edited by TCabrarr   

The Gluten-Free Experiment

In May I wrote a post on Gluten-Free Living and whether or not a gluten-free diet was for everyone. In that piece, I concluded that people fall into one of three groups. The first group consists of those diagnosed with celiac disease; they have no choice but to live a gluten-free life. The second group includes people who do not warrant a celiac disease diagnosis, but they do experience gluten-sensitive symptoms, such as digestive distress (constipation, diarrhea, bloating, fullness), brain fog, skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, poor circulation / dark circles), exacerbated asthma, joint pain and endocrine issues, such as thyroid disorders or even infertility. This group experiences positive results once off gluten. The third group experiences no noticeable difference on a gluten-free diet.

I believe that nothing beats first-hand experience, because the truth is that your body knows best. After multiple people asked me whether or not they should cut gluten from their diet, I decided it was time to try a gluten-free diet for myself. I had already heard first-hand how positively people were affected by going gluten-free. One person’s health improved so drastically that she stopped needing hypothyroid meds, while another became 100% joint-pain free. It all sounded too good to be true.  

The only way to really know if a certain dietary restriction will help you is to give it a try, and so I began my research. In the past century, “modern wheat” has been genetically manipulated to increase the proportion of gluten as a result of hybridization. Therefore, our exposure is much higher than normal, a change discussed in the well-known book Wheat Belly by Dr. Davis. While this book was a fascinating read, it is one thing to know the theory and quite another to understand the challenges of avoiding what I call the “W-BRO grains” (wheat, barley, rye, and most oats).  

In reality, the half-life of gluten antibodies is typically 3–4 months. That’s about how long it takes to get gluten out of your system, barring variables such as health, previous gluten exposure, digestion and hydration (constipation and dehydration make matters worse) and food allergies. I opted for the crash course, a “Two-Week Gluten-Free Experiment.” For moral support and out of curiosity, both my husband and coworker followed the diet with me.

In Preparation

I cooked. As I wasn’t going to be able to eat my go-to granola cereal as a snack, I made a huge batch of homemade granola with gluten-free oats. I stocked up on Greek yogurt and made hard-boiled eggs with fruit for breakfast. I cooked a huge batch of brown rice and amaranth with beans and vegetables. I rediscovered quesadillas (made with corn tortillas, naturally!). I also made a huge pot of zucchini/carrot/Serrano soup (pictured) for dinner. And luckily for me, my upstairs neighbor, owner of Pitanga Juice, baked us a delicious loaf of gluten-free bread.

No One Said Change Is Easy

I won’t sugarcoat it—the first few days were rough. My energy level was way down and I had trouble concentrating. However, by the third day the sluggishness was gone. I was waking up easier and my stomach was flatter and less bloated. When I got on the scale, I had lost three pounds without even trying! Granted, starchy carbs retain much more water, so it was probably just water weight. But the most noticeable change was that my under-eye circles disappeared! And my husband, who has mild psoriasis, was practically cured—no itchiness or redness. My coworker experienced better digestion, improved mood and more patience. Wow!


Over the course of the two weeks, I discovered that the most random foods have gluten, like my sugar-free Altoids and a lot of restaurant dishes. It turns out that light breading and soy sauce are in almost everything. The lesson: always ask if a dish includes gluten, never assume. I went to a baby shower without planning ahead and gluten-free options were slim pickings so I resigned myself to a dinner of salad and wine— not good! Always be prepared.

The Take Away

While I had a fairly positive experience, the positive effects waned after the first week. I would classify myself as a member of the third group and am not severely affected by gluten. And truth be told, I missed my favorite meal of 10-grain bread with turkey, avocado and sprouts. Yum!

What Stuck

Much to my surprise…

  • I can do without crackers and table bread—even if it is whole grain.
  • Beer definitely bloats.
  • I should be more creative with grains!
  • A lot of gluten-free alternatives are very low in fiber (since so many have rice) and therefore fiber intake should be increased from other sources (seeds, veggies, fruits and other grains).
  • I have since started eating gluten again, but in much smaller amounts.
  • After the dramatic improvements in their health, my coworker and husband have decided to maintain a mostly gluten-free diet. 

The Bottom-Line

We should not eat too much of one thing. Variety is essential. ALWAYS listen to your body.

Have you tried going gluten-free?

Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD. 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr

 Pictured: lamb / beef meatballs with capers, jasmine rice with almonds and root vegetable salad (beets, fennel, carrots and zucchini). Recipes made / adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Edited by TCabrarr 

Is Organic Really Better?

It’s no secret that organic food is trending. There’s a reason it’s a $25 billion industry! But the question everyone wants to know is: Is it really that much better for you than conventional food? The answer is, it depends on how you look at it.

A recent Stanford University report, which reviewed 237 different studies examining all types of food, from fruits to grains to meats, concluded that there isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods.Yup, you heard right. According to the Stanford report, organic food only showed higher levels of phosphorus, which can also be found in processed food, beans and meat—in other words, it’s not a common deficiency. And a few studies also linked organic milk to higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, though this finding was inconclusive. One report looked at variations of soil type and weather conditions for organic foods and found higher levels of vitamin C (6%) and higher levels of secondary metabolites (12%, a.k.a. phytochemicals). These metabolites increase a plant’s ability to survive in its environment and have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease in diets with high fruit and vegetable intake. Potentially. 

There is also the matter of pesticide exposure, not to mention synthetic hormones and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is where organic food shines! Organic food has 31% lower risk of pesticide contamination than conventional food, even though it still may have traces of these substances (<5% is acceptable). While the FDA considers trace levels to be within safe limits, what is still unclear is how the cumulative load of organophosphorous pesticides effects special populations, such as children, pregnant/ breastfeeding women and the elderly. Another advantage is that organic dairy farmers are prohibited from using antibiotics and synthetic hormones (growth hormones). Compare this to conventionally raised chicken and pork, which have a 33% higher risk of antibiotic-resistant bacterial contamination—from up to three or more antibiotics!

Beyond Nutrition

  • Organic farming is gentler on the environment.It uses about half the amount of energy as conventional farming, produces lower levels of greenhouse gases (up to 40% less!) and supports soil that, in turn, yields better crops. Therefore, it’s better for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil we farm.
  • Food safety.The use of chemicals in food manufacturing is a common concern, especially if you are pregnant/breastfeeding, elderly, or have children. 
  • Organic is non-GMO (genetically modified organism). As part of the certification process, organic food cannot be modified. This is why organic fruits and veggies can grow into funky shapes. 
  • Animal welfare.Organically raised animals are allowed to graze on pasture and roam freely. The added space reduces their risk of getting sick. They are also not injected with synthetic growth hormones. Overall, the animals are not as miserable as they are in conventional farms.
  • Taste.Have you ever tried an organic versus a conventionally grown apple? There is no comparison. The organic is bursting with flavor!

 Something to Think About: Big Organic
“Organic” is a business. The USDA Organic Certification ensures a certain standard of practice, but this is an expense that many local, environmentally conscious farms cannot afford. Bottom line: Just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s healthy (e.g. organic junk food!). Many local farms follow the same standard of practice, but may not carry the organic seal.

Going organic can have a steep price tag. Here are some tips to make the transition more bearable:

  • First thing’s first: Eat your fruits and vegetables.Ideally, buy them fresh, organic and/or local (from a trusted farmer). But what matters most is including fruits and vegetables in your diet, regardless of how they are grown. Only 6-8% of people are getting their recommended servings, so intake, regardless of type, is essential. For a more reliable way of choosing produce on a budget, look at the Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen list. This shows which foods are best to buy organic based on their pesticide levels. The list includes apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, peaches and potatoes, among others.
  • Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. The overabundance and decreased traveling will reduce your cost.
  • Do not buy organic junk food. If being healthier is one of the reasons you are buying organic food, eating junk food—regardless of the label—defeats the purpose!
  • Choose organic meats, dairy and eggs whenever possible.Another option is buying from local farmer’s markets and community-supported agricultural programs. Most of these are grown/raised in organic fashion, even though the farm may not have the certification. Farmers generally don’t mind being asked about their farming practices. Ask away!
  • Other ways to reduce pesticide residues when organic is not an option:Practice food safety (start with washing your hands!) and wash food thoroughly. Before slicing produce, cut away any bruised areas. Pesticides usually concentrate in animal fat, so trim fat from red meat/pork and do not eat the skin of chicken/fish.

Do you buy organic?

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Edited by TCabrarr

Picture from Katie Hargrave on Flickr. 


Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods, Stanford study finds. Stanford School of Medicine. 

Organic Really Matters. Environmental Nutrition, January 2013. 

The Organic Foods Debate — Are They Healthier Than Conventional? Today’s Dietitian, July 2013. 

Honey Bee Good

The recorded use of honey in human civilization dates back to at least 700 B.C. Therefore, it is no surprise that over the centuries honey has been used for many different purposes. Personally, growing up I was administered gobs of honey whenever I felt sniffly or my throat was sore - my mom was on to something!  Other health benefits include: 

  • Boosts immunity by showing antimicrobial (anti-bacterial, fungi, viral, etc) and antiseptic properties, especially when used topically on burns, infected/ non-healing wounds and ulcers.  
  • Research in Israel shows decreased incidence of neutropenia (low white blood cell counts) in cancer patients. As honey is high in antioxidants, specifically phenolic compounds (ellagic acid), it has been linked to cancer prevention.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties decrease the risk for chronic diseases. 
  • Improve appetite-regulating hormones as well as glucose response (prolonged energy), as per small study. 
  • Aids in reduction of weight gain and adiposity (in rats), most likely because of controlled appetite and lower food intake  
  • Helps with upper respiratory infections and acts as a natural cough suppressant  
  • Helps with mouth sores, as per Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Helps enhance the growth/ activity of good bacteria found in probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, and fermented food, which aids digestion and increases immunity. 
  • Helps athletic performance by providing good muscle recuperation as it is a good source of carbohydrates (the best ergogenic source) 
  • Aids with the effects of seasonal allergies, specifically raw, local honey. This, unfortunately, is based more so on anecdotal stories rather than informed clinical research.  

Honey does more than provide personal health benefits. It is estimated that 1 of every 3 mouthfuls of food are dependent on pollination from a Western honeybee, which equates to ~35% of the calories we consume every year! Honeybees are responsible for the pollination of commercial crops worldwide (apples, oranges, onions, carrots, broccoli, sunflowers, strawberries, melons, avocados, peaches, cotton, soy, alfalfa). As Albert Einstein observed: “No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more man”- a harsh statement that speaks true to the current bee crisis. Beehives are dying off or disappearing. Some theories point to the overuse of pesticides in industrial farming, the varroa mite- a parasite that infected bees with a virus, and loss of local varieties or monoculture commodity crops that lack enough pollen to properly feed the bees, such as wheat and corn. The most affected places have reported losing up to 90% of their bee colonies! No wonder honey can be so expensive, and with reason!    

How To Pick Honey

As a rule of thumb, I recommend the darker honeys (buckwheat, sage, tupelo) because they are usually higher in antioxidant content. That said, darker honey has a stronger taste than the lighter colored varieties, so it also depends on your flavor preference. Honey flavor differs as a result of the flower varieties from which bees harvest the nectar i.e. clover, orange blossom, wildflower, eucalyptus - up to 300 different types!

Honey is available in raw or pasteurized form. When raw honey is removed from the hive and bottled, it contains supportive health benefits such as traces of yeast, pollen, phytonutrients, and healthy bacteria (specifically lactobacilli and bifidobacteria). Look for the label “100% pure.” Pasteurized honey has been heated and processed to remove impurities and kill any potentially harmful bacteria. 

CAUTION: Do not give honey to children under one year old. They may develop infant botulism due to the botulinum endospores found in honey. Their underdeveloped digestive system can’t destroy the spores yet. 

Nutrition Facts

One teaspoon of honey provides 20 to 22 calories, which is slightly more calories than sugar. It is also sweeter due to its high fructose content, so a small amount goes a long way. Even though honey is better for glucose control and is considered a natural sweetener, it is still an “added sugar” and therefore should be indulged in moderation. Some research has stated that fructose favors fat storage and therefore may contribute to obesity, hyperlipedemia, and insulin resistance; studies are inconclusive. 

“Bee” smart and enjoy this low-calorie honey citrus recipe from Environmental Nutrition. Thirty-five calories per tablespoon! Use to sweeten tea, yogurt, oatmeal, whole grain pancakes/ French toast, high fiber/ low sugar cereal, or just fruit! 

  •  ½ cup honey 
  •  ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 
  •  ¼ cup tamarind juice 

Directions: Combine all in a small cup. Blend well. Refrigerate in an air-tight container- preferably with a spout! 

Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD  

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

The Real Scoop on Sugar. Today’s Dietitian, October 2012

Discovering A Honey of a Sweetener. Environmental Nutrition, December 2011.    

Honey. World’s Healthiest Foods.   

The Plight of the Honeybees. Time Magazine. Full article available here.

Edited by TCabrarr 

Synergistic Foods


If you haven’t already heard, supplements are helpful when you are trying to fix a deficiency, but getting nutrients from whole foods is almost always the better way to go. Research suggests that certain combinations of foods interact in a way that improves bioavailability (the extent to which a nutrient can be used by the body). Knowing how to pair synergistic foods will help you reap greater nutritional benefits. Here are 9 of my favorite pairings that deliver a powerhouse of nutrients:

  1. Brown Rice & Beans.I’m from Mexico, so loving rice and beans is in my blood. Both are great sources of fiber (therefore stable energy), vitamin Bs, iron and calcium. Eaten together, they are an awesome source of veggie protein. Since rice is missing the amino acid lysine and beans are missing methionine, they complement each other perfectly. How to cook: I usually cook brown rice with black beans, red onion, chile serrano and tomato. If you feel adventurous, make stuffed bell peppers (as pictured) by adding the mix to hollowed out bell peppers and baking for approximately one hour at 350F. As a finishing touch, serve with avocado and lime.
  2. Dark Greens with a Citrus Twist.Greens, like spinach, kale and arugula (my favorite) are loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A and C and iron. In order to better absorb iron from vegetarian sources, eat greens with vitamin C. This improves iron absorption in the intestines. I usually add a dash of citrus, either from lemon, lime or tangerine. Some other great sources of vitamin C are strawberries and beets.
  3. Mixed Berries with Greek Yogurt.Berries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit. When multiple varieties are mixed together (i.e. blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries), they’ve also shown increased cardiovascular protection. Mixed berries contain powerful phytochemicals: nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc, potassium and magnesium. These nutrients are high in fiber and low in sugar. When combined with low-fat Greek yogurt, they provide a great balance of protein, fat and carbs.
  4. Meat Cooked with Herbs.I love to grill. That said, you have to take certain precautions, especially when it comes to meat. When cooking meats (my go-to is free-range chicken), I always add herbs and spices. This is important, because when meat is cooked over high heat it creates a toxic compound called malondialdehyde, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease and other chronic conditions. By rubbing antioxidant-rich herbs on the meat, such as Herbes de Provence (usually a mix of rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, sage and fennel), you can reduce up to 70% of this nasty compound!
  5. Papaya and Pineapple Smoothie (especially after a high-protein meal).Papaya and pineapple are rich in the enzymes papain and bromelain, respectively, which aid in protein digestion. They also have anti-inflammatory benefits and support the immune system. For better taste, mix a little coconut water in with one part papaya and two parts pineapple.
  6. Tomato Salad with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).The healthy fat found in olive oil helps absorb the fat-soluble antioxidants and vitamins found in tomatoes (such as lycopene, carotenoids, and vitamin E). These help to improve the skin, eyes and heart. At least 4 grams (~1 tsp) of absorption-boosting monounsaturated fats will do the trick! If you want to change it up, add a little avocado or crushed pistachios for increased absorption. 
  7. Green Tea & Lemon.It’s no secret that green tea is jam-packed with antioxidants, namely epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Studies suggest that green tea can treat everything from cancers to weight loss (though still inconclusive). When you combine it with a little citrus, you can absorb up to 13 times more of the antioxidants than with green tea alone. I would say it’s a worthwhile twist.
  8. Almond Butter on Whole-Wheat Bread.The amino acid missing in whole-wheat bread (lysine) is abundant in almond butter. Spreading a light coat of almond butter on whole-wheat bread is the perfect match (and a perfect snack)! Add a little honey to satisfy your sweet tooth. 
  9. Turmeric & Black Pepper. Turmeric, the gold/orange spice typically used in Indian cuisine, purportedly protects against the development of diabetes, reduces the risk of certain cancers (including breast and leukemia), possesses anti-inflammatory properties and even aids with weight loss! To improve absorption of the dominant compound in turmeric, combine it with black pepper. So next time you eat curry, be sure to add a sprinkle of black pepper.

What’s your favorite food combo?

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr

Picture by Diana House. Available on Flickr.

Edited by TCabrarr.

Food synergy: an operational concept for understanding nutrition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Food Synergy: 13 Anti-Aging Power Pairs. More.

Food Synergy: 8 Healthy Food Pairings That Are Even Better Together. Huffpost Healthy Living.

Return to Normalcy: Back to School Tips

As summer comes to an end (sniff sniff), we say goodbye to half-day Fridays and bon voyage to weekends at the beach. It’s time to get motivated for a healthy new school year, and when I say “school year,” don’t feel left out if your school days are long past. These tips are meant for the whole family. After enjoying 5-hour baseball games, BBQ parties and one-too-many frozen margaritas, we could all benefit from a few tips to jumpstart a healthy new normalcy! 

TIP 1: Eat breakfast.Kids who eat a healthy breakfast perform better in school and have improved cognitive functions, attention spans and memory skills. Eating breakfast is also associated with better satiation, weight loss/maintenance, and making better food choices throughout the day. Focus on high fiber, lean proteins and calcium-rich foods. Here are some breakfast ideas:

  • Greek yogurt with granola and fruit
  • Egg sandwich (2 whole eggs) with ½ cup of vegetables on whole wheat bread
  • High-fiber cereal (at least 5 grams per cup) with 1 serving of fruit
  • Whole-grain waffle with berry compote plus a cup of low-fat milk. Berry Compote Recipe: Place a mix of your favorite berries in a saucepan, mash lightly and add a tiny amount of water if necessary until the sugar dissolves in the juice. Ta da! You just made a replacement for butter or syrup.

TIP 2: Ask About School Lunches. If your kids are getting a school lunch, inquire about their choices. Given the freedom, most kids will order chicken nuggets or pizza every day. Don’t let that happen! School meals should now include whole grains, fruits (some whole, some with syrup) and vegetables (salad bar, sautéed). There is no reason why they shouldn’t take advantage (at least most of the time) of these healthy choices. Even their choice of milk makes a big difference: low fat milk has 102 calories and 13 grams of sugar, whereas chocolate milk has 158 calories and 25 grams of sugar.  

TIP 3: Pack a Healthy Brown Bag (or nowadays, a “Cooler Lunch Box”).Make the meal simple and exciting. Provide a filling sandwich on whole-wheat or whole-grain bread with at least one vegetable and one fruit. If your kid complains about the “mushy banana” or “hard-to-peel orange,” try providing cut-up fruits instead. If they (like most kids) don’t like vegetables, explain why we need veggies in the first place. An interesting study found that when children understood that they need the nutrients in vegetables to function properly, they chose vegetables more often—without even asking! If you must, include a sweet snack like these “lunchbox cookies.” Add variety to your sandwiches:

  • Mozzarella cheese, fresh tomato and olive oil
  • Tuna salad with celery, onions and cranberries or red apple (1 tsp of mayo, max!)
  • Hummus (variety of flavors) with cucumber slices
  • Eggs and peppers
  • Veggie burger with avocado
  • Mediterranean with feta cheese, tomato and olives
  • The classic: Peanut butter and jelly
  • Revised classic: almond butter and honey

Quick food safety tip: Pack lunches in an insulated lunch box, especially when including animal protein.

TIP 4: Use Healthy Snacks To Your Advantage.Kids are usually hungry when they get home, so be smart about the options you make available to them. Provide healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, cut-up veggies, string cheese, non-flavored yogurt, hummus, bean dips, nut butters (like almond butter), whole-grain breads, popcorn, pretzels or trail-mix. If these are the only options, they will eat them!

TIP 5: Provide Water, Not Juice or Soda.This is self-explanatory. Kids less than 6 years old should not drink more than 4 oz. of juice a day. Soda has no nutritional value and should be avoided altogether. As if we needed another reason to avoid soda, a new study showed that soda makes kids more aggressive. Enough said. To make water more interesting, add lime wedges, cucumber slices or mint leaves to a pitcher of water.

What is your favorite healthy brown-bag recipe?

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD.

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr

Picture by Melissa (anotherlunch.com) in Flickr.

Edited by TCabrarr.

Ain't August Peachy?!


Peaches (prunus persica) are deliciously sweet. Depending on the variety, they range in color from creamy-yellow to rosy-red with a single large seed or pit (inedible) much like cherries, plums, and apricots. Peaches, native of China, have a juicy flesh and fuzzy exterior. They come in two main varieties—clingstone, where the flesh clings to the pit, and freestone, where it separates freely.

The Benefits of Peaches

Peaches, as most fruits, are naturally low in fat and saturated fat. They are sodium free and cholesterol free. Note: all non-animal based food is cholesterol free, in case you’ve wondered why juices sometimes say “Cholesterol free!”

One large peach (~1 cup sliced) has 68 calories, 3 grams of satiating, digestive boosting dietary fiber (about 10% of daily value (DV) in a 2000 calorie per day diet), 19% DV of immune boosting, antioxidant-rich vitamin C, and 11% DV of vision enhancing vitamin A. In addition, all “stone” or pit fruits contain bioactive components (anthocyanins and quercetin) that may help fight metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that raise the risk of diabetes and obesity-related heart disease. Moreover, a small study showed that peaches may influence breast cancer cell death, because of their high content of phenolic acids. 

How To Pick a Peach 
Peach season runs from May until October, and August is Peach Month. Choose peaches with firm, fuzzy skins that have a slight whitish “glow,” yield to gentle pressure when ripe, and have a subtle sweet scent. Avoid ones with blemishes. When it comes to peaches, the lighter colored variety has approximately 6 times more antioxidant content that the pinkish variety.  As peaches are on the dirty dozen list, meaning conventionally-bought peaches will be high in pesticide content, I recommend buying organic or local. Or opt for frozen organic peaches; they are great for your health (and your wallet).

How to Store & Prepare 
Store unripe peaches in a closed paper bag to concentrate the ethylene gas and help ripen. When already ripe, store at room temperature for use within 1-2 days.

Wash in cold running water just before using. Fresh ripe peaches should be enjoyed with the skin. That said, some recipes may fair better when the skin is peeled, which can be done easily using a knife – think of peeling an apple!. And just like an apple, peaches will brown if left exposed to air. If you are serving them sliced, make sure to add a few drops of lemon or lime to delay browning. 

Ideas on How to Cook & Serve

  • Sliced In A Salad. As pictured, peel and pit peaches, mix with fresh mozzarella, and add basil or mint leaves. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and crushed pepper to taste. Another delicious salad involves tossing peaches with spinach, toasted walnuts, and a little sprinkle of blue cheese. Mix in extra virgin olive oil for a richer taste.
  • Diced In A Salsa… and served with fish tacos.  Enough said. 
  • Enjoy a Peach Fizz. Muddle fresh or frozen peaches at the bottom of the glass and add seltzer or flavored seltzer.
  • Bake, Broil, Sauté or Grill. For a delicious side dish or snack, warm peach slices by using any of the above cooking methods. Cut pieces for a peach kabob! Spices easily add variety; for instance, add cinnamon for a sweeter twist or crushed pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
  • Smoothielicious. Mix fresh or frozen peaches into a smoothie. I love mixing peaches with half a banana, almond milk, and a dash of nutmeg. Yum!
  • A Breakfast Revelation! Peach slices are a great addition to hot or cold cereals, plain Greek yogurt, or even as a topping for whole grain pancakes or waffles. Hold the sweeteners!
  • Grab & Go Trail Mix. Add dried peach slices to nuts and/or seeds for a satisfying, healthy snack. Just watch the portions!
  • Bellini Cocktail (in moderation). Place 1 to 2 TBS of pureed peaches at the bottom of a champagne flute. Add prosecco and voila, you’ve got a fancy cocktail.

Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

A peach of a treat. Environmental Nutrition; August 2013
10 Ways to Enjoy Peaches. Fruits & Veggies More Matters

Edited by TCabrarr