Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nutrition Bit by Brittany Johnson, RD

In the fall, I teach a course called "Capstone Nutrition and Dietetics". It is a course in which the students gather all they have learned over the time they have been with us and produce four projects. One of those projects is to tape a brief nutrition infomercial called "Nutrition Bits".  The students write their own scripts, while I tweak and make any necessary adjustments.

Our students in the bachelor and master of science degree in nutrition and dietetics program have the option of taking their Registered Dietitian exam prior to their last year with us. One of those brave students was Brittany Johnson who took the plunge.  Towards the end of last summer, Brittany successfully became a registered dietitian. Brittany is one of our amazing students who shows great leadership and communication skills. Having zest for life herself  and helping others live healthy lives are two of Brittany's many passions. Take a look at her "Nutrition Bit" down below.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why Should We Even Care About Vitamin A?

Does the thought of having night blindness, called nyctalopia, scare you? Basically night blindness is having difficulty seeing when lights are low. I wouldn't want that and I'm sure you wouldn't either. We want to see! You also would not want this, having foamy patches on the conjunctiva of your eye. There is a fancy name for this condition called Bitot's Spots. In addition, there is another situation of the eye that would be uncomfortable to have, that would be having dry eyes. Can you prevent all this from happening? There is a good possibility you can.

Vitamin A deficiency can place you in any of the above conditions. In order to prevent yourself from being deficient in vitamin A, indulge in pre-formed vitamin A called beta carotene. Beta carotene is the precursor to vitamin A. Your eye health will be in tip top shape when you have an adequate daily intake of beta-carotene rich foods such as pumpkin (tis the season!), carrots, dark leafy greens, spinach, orange juice, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe. The beta carotene will be better absorbed well in your body when you don't dip down too low in your fat intake. Without adequate fat, you won't be able to absorb vitamin A as well as the other fat soluble vitamins that our bodies need.

So as you are enjoying your pumpkin soup this season, just know that your eyes are thanking you, so that you can see the world clearly!

Mahan, L. K., Escott-Stump, S, & Raymond, J. L. (2012). Krause's Food and the Nutrition Care Process, 13th Edition. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier

Wedner, S. H., & D. A. Ross (2008). Vitamin D and Its Prevention. International Encyclopedia of Public Health. P. 526-632.

What is your favorite pumpkin dessert or entree? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Not a Fan of the Word "Superfood"

Image courtesy of worradmu @
There are so many articles calling certain food items "superfoods". If any of those foods were truly "super", then really...that particular food item should completely prevent...heal...or even cure...medical conditions.The reality is that when any one food item is featured in the "super" light, it is because it is rich in two or three nutrients..not all vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and phytonutrients known to man all in one package.

When articles call certain items "superfood", this can lead some individuals to think that he or she should eat that particular food item every day or at least in most of their meals to reap the benefits of that particular food item. This can drive someone to limit their intake of eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans. Limiting food intake to the same food choices day in and day out will keep many from gaining the benefits other food items have to offer.

The key is to venture out on a daily basis when it comes to choosing food for your meals. Eating different food items from day to day...or at least from week to week...can certainly add "spice" to your life and keep your health in check.

For the fun of it, what has been your favorite "superfood"?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Backpacking Trip

Without a doubt, I love the great outdoors! Needless to say, camping is definitely fun and enjoyable, but what's even better than camping is backpacking!!  Backpacking takes you to places where the scenery is just absolutely gorgeous and the lakes are pristine and clean.
Our awesome group!

Early this month, we hiked up in Kings Canyon National Park. Our trip consisted of a 3 night stay up in the beautiful mountains. We started from Onion Valley in which the elevation was already about 9,200 feet. Then we hiked up, with some switchbacks, to Kearsarge Pass in which we immediately gained 2,560 feet of elevation and ended up at 11,760 feet. Yep, this was a difficult hike needless to say! From Kearsarge Pass, we proceeded to hike a few more miles to beautiful Charlotte Lake where we stayed a couple nights. The lake itself was peaceful with majestic mountains all around. The awesomeness of God was everywhere!

Bullfrog Lake
We then made our way to Bullfrog Lake where the guys continued to fish.  Several different types of trout were caught. Then we decided to spend our last night at Kearsarge Lake where the scenery there was different, but gorgeous and amazing in its own way.

Kearsarge Lake

Since we had to bring enough food for our 3 1/2 day trip, I am absolutely thankful for the different companies that make freeze-dried food! Freeze-dried food makes any backpacking trip delightful! I enjoyed the lasagna with meat sauce, fettucini with alfredo sauce, teriyaki chicken with rice, mashed potatoes, corn, and huevos rancheros. They were also delicious and repleted us well from all of our hikes. Thank you freeze-dried food companies!!

Just like any endurance sport, hiking up switchbacks is one major endurance activity. Hikes of this caliber also require the right nutrition and hydration plan in order to feel good, have energy, and have good blood sugar levels to keep everyone in good spirits!

Our backpacking trip was a great way to end the summer by being in the midst of God's beautiful creations!

What is your favorite freeze-dried food?

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Almost Pizza

I am part of a women's small Bible study group. We rotate having our weekly study at each others' homes. In addition, to the leading the study, the host also provides dinner. Since we have been meeting faithfully for the past fifteen years, everyone has gotten over their bashfulness of preparing some type of meal for our study.

Last week, it was my turn to host.  I wanted to provide something easy, but delicious and nutritious. What came to my mind was mini pizzas. However, there are times...because I am a flexitarian.. that I want to provide an entree that is total vegetarian (some call it vegan, although not appropriate term since we still wear leather and silk and eat honey). So, I proceeded to dry run my mini pizzas using cheese substitute.

Well, I forgot to buy pizza sauce, so proceeded to make the "pizza" without any pizza sauce...hence the name "almost pizza". The result was not disappointing! I mixed just enough Vegennaise with Daiya cheddar style shreds. I spread the mixture across Rudi's whole wheat English muffins. Sprinkled some chopped tomatoes, green onions, and cashews on top (oh, and also chopped olives...just not pictured, because I ran out when I made them again.) I placed the topped English muffins on a cooking sheet in my oven for about 15 minutes or so or until shreds were melted at 415 degrees. And voila! You have a delicious, very low in saturated fat "almost pizza" that is very tasty. The combination of the Daiya shreds and Vegennaise is amazing! The only thing is that, this "entree" is not low in sodium, so mindful moderation should still be practice here. Not only will your kids loves these, but so will you!

I served the "almost pizzas" with a salad and soup and the gals were satisfied. So, just in case you're looking for an easy lunch or dinner idea for your family or friends, try the "almost pizzas".

Disclaimer: I was not paid by Daiya or Vegennaise companies to write about their products. All thoughts are mine and I regularly use their products, just because I like them.

What recipe have you developed that became your favorite after leaving it out an ingredient accidently?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"No Added Sugar" Challenge Update

My choice of dessert for lunch has been a sweet apple.
My friends and I are halfway through our challenge! We have been at it for three weeks. We meet every Tuesday for a lunch check-in meeting in which we bring our own food. Have we been perfect? Absolutely not. We all have all unofficially allowed ourselves one cheat day per week. Well, all but one. However, in the big scheme of things, my friends have been doing so well. I am proud of each of them.

For Shani, who loves to eat sweets throughout the day all day long, the progress and success she is making comes in the area of decreased amounts of sugary foods per day. She has stayed away from the doughnuts, etc, but has allowed herself to have frozen yogurt with her nephew and niece on her recent vacation. This is a far cry from where she started.

For Danelle, sugary drinks has been "her thing". Through this challenge, it made her realize how many times she goes to Starbucks previously. It was just a habit for her to go always without really thinking about it. Now she has cut way back and is hardly going. She is also realizing she is saving money! Danelle has found other alternatives of drinks, such as unsweetened teas, that taste good to her.

The group in general has become aware of how easy they all take in a sweet here and there without being mindful of what they are doing. This challenge has brought awareness to each of them. Again, no one has been perfect through this journey so far, but there is progress in decreasing everyone's sugar threshold for taste and crave. That is taking place slowly, but surely. The real challenge will be to continue the current behavior beyond the end of this "challenge".

How are you doing with your sweets intake?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gave That Homemade Energy Bar Recipe a Try!

Last week, I posted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts a link to the "Homemade Energy Bars" video by Runner's World Nutrition Editor, Joanna Golub. Well, I made the energy bars yesterday and it was delicious and satisfying! I wasn't the only one that thought that, but so did my running/biking/yoga buddy, Danelle, my Mom, and Tom all gave it a thumbs up. It is definitely a great "bar" for any pre or post workout/run/ride snack.

I used Laura Scudder's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter since there is no added sugar. The only "sugar" which is added in this recipe is honey and for the amount it calls for in relation to the dry ingredients, it really is not that much. The editor said to bake in the oven for 15 minutes. I baked it for 25 minutes. I wanted somewhat of a crunch. Next time, I'll put it at a higher temperature like 375 degrees instead of 350 degrees and then maybe it might be okay for 15 or 20 minutes.

If you make this, I would highly suggest letting it completely cool off and even refrigerate before devouring. This way, it keeps together very well, especially after refrigerating. Otherwise, it will come apart if eaten too soon. 

You can find the video at this link. Click here.

This homemade bar is power packed with nutrients (high in protein for sure) with a satisfying flavor! One more thing, it is very, very easy to make. Enjoy!

Any homemade energy bar recipes you would like to share with us?