Week 11: Countdown to Unprocessed Foods

healthy but no diet

Week 12 Recap: Avoiding Fried and Fast Foods

Fried food, for me, was the difficult one this week; when I moved to the South I did not take up eating all the fried vegetables I encountered so that was never an issue for me, personally. I did try them and I did learn I liked them but, for example, I now bake my okra with oil, herbs, seasonings for flavor, until they are crispy but still tender to eat, instead. So what fried food(s) got me? Donuts. Donuts are my culprit- and here I am, like many of you probably, trying to curb the sugar in my life. Donuts aren’t something I eat every month but if every 3-4 months my husband or I perk up and say “Let’s get donuts- it’s been awhile”, I have trouble saying no. I wanted to try to get a ‘healthier’ version of a donut- don’t ask me what that would include exactly ha!- but I thought I’d try Whole Foods instead of the other grocery stores because I have seen their nutritional labels. Whole Foods does not carry donuts because, I am told, they are considered unhealthy. So, we ended up with having 1-2 donuts from somewhere else and I regretted it feeling later that I could have made a better choice. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way. What does that mean? It’s just motivation to make better choices next time- as I tell my patients “It’s a choice that you just make one meal at a time”.

Oven-Baked Okra

  • In a bowl, drizzle okra with olive oil or an oil that you are comfortable heating to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Season with salt and pepper, as desired
  • Add in other herbs or spices, as desired
  • Place on baking sheet in a thin layer
  • Heat in oven at  400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes; occasionally turning over.
  • Check your oven temperature and time of cooking to find what works best for your taste preference, of course; it took a few tries and a separate oven thermometer placed inside our oven to find the ideal cooking time and temperature for mine to be the tastiest.

Week 11: Try Two New Whole Foods

I’m not sure if this will be easy or difficult. You see, I’m up for trying new foods when I encounter them. I’m not sure what I will come across in the coming week that I haven’t already tried but I’ll keep my eyes peeled and report back. Buddha’s hands have been on my list but they are really just like lemon zest from my understanding and that doesn’t sound adventurous enough. When I was a child, I wouldn’t touch Brussels sprouts but in the last year I have suddenly developed a craving for them and they are now part of my diet, if that counts. Figs are new to me also as the only time I encountered them growing up was in the form of “Fig Newton’s” which I did not like- and now I want to plant a fig tree in my yard! I’m pretty sure I saw white and purple asparagus in the grocery store recently and that is something I haven’t tried. I look forward to any suggestions.

After my Week 11 Recap, I will be taking some time off to focus on other topics. During that time, I am going to reset my eating pattern and make sure I am doing the first few weeks right; keep an eye out for other topics in January followed by the resume of my “14 Weeks to Unprocessed Foods”.


Healthy Holiday Substitutions and Cold Weather Workouts

Healthy Substitutions for Healthier (Holiday) Eating

If you eat this Consider this instead


Whole Milk 1% or Skim
Ice Cream Frozen Yogurt, Sherbert, Sorbet, or Italian Ice
Sour Cream Low-fat plain yogurt
Cream Cheese Neufchatel or low-fat cream cheese
Whole Milk Cheese Part Skim Cheese
Coffee Creamer 2%, 1%, or Skim Milk, Milk Substitutes, or   low-cal/low-fat versions OR consider rich flavors while using very small   portions- you can be surprised how far that flavor goes

Cereal, Grain, Pasta

Fettuccine Alfredo Pasta with Marinara Sauce
White Rice Brown Rice or Wild   Rice

Meat, Poultry, Fish,   & Eggs

Chicken or Turkey with skin Chicken or Turkey   without the skin (white meat)
Pork or Ham Pork Tenderloin or Ham (trimmed, lean, smoked)
Breaded or Fried Fish Fresh, Frozen, or   Canned Unbreaded Fish- consider grilling or baking
Whole Eggs 1:1 or 1:2 ratio (whole egg to egg whites), use all egg   whites, egg substitutes


Cake (pound, yellow, chocolate) Angelfood, Ginegerbread
Cookies Reduced fat and   calorie versions such as Graham Crackers or Ginger Snaps
Custard Pudding made with skim milk
Hot Chocolate using syrup and whole milk Pure cocoa heated   with 1% or skim milk

Fats, Oils,   Dressings

Butter Whipped butter,   ‘diet’ margarine (just watch for trans fats and hydrogenated oils)
Mayonnaise Mustard
Baking using oil, shortening,   eggs,  or lard Applesauce can be   used in place for some recipes


Cream Soups and Gravies Broth-based soups or   homemade soups using low-fat milk

Just Because It’s Cold, Doesn’t Mean YouCan’t Fit in Your Exercise

“It’s only cold if you’re not moving”

winter fitness

Using the WebMD Calorie Counter, a person weighing 130 lbs can *potentially* burn the following calories with these winter or indoor activities for 1 hour:

Activity Calories per   Hour

Ice Skating


Skiing, General




Snow Shoeing


Building an Ice   House


Aerobics Class


Walking, Treadmill,   Brisk


Light Weight Lifting




Cycling/Spinning, Moderate


As you can see, there are still plenty of ways to burn calories despite the cold weather. There are more activities to do than are listed here. The number of actual calories you will burn depends on a lot of factors including your weight, gender, etc. so this calculator can be a fun estimator but it may not be accurate. How are you going to stay active during winter?

Recipe of the Month: Japanese Yam or Sweet Potato Pie

ingredient list

Serves 10

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch      pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 9-inch prepared graham cracker crust


  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Place yam/sweet potato in medium pot, and cover with 1      inch water. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer 10 minutes,      or until soft. Drain, cool to room temperature, and mash. (You should have      1 cup.)
  3. Whisk together potatoes, sugar, coconut milk, eggs,      cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and salt in large bowl. Pour into piecrust      and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until set.
  4. Cool on rack until ready to serve.
  1. Per SERVING:
Calories 194
Protein 3g
Total Fat 6g
Saturated Fat 1.5g
Carbs 32g
Cholesterol 42mg
Sodium 241mg
Fiber 2g
Sugar 16g


This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet or exercise routine.

Week 13 Countdown to Unprocessed Foods: “Real” Beverages

Week 14 Recap:

I was challenged to have at least 2 different fruits and/or vegetables with each meal. Well, although I didn’t do it at every single meal or snack, I am proud to say I did this at most meals- if I had to guess I’d say around 60-75% of my meals for the week. I spent more than one week working on this challenge and will be spending the following week focusing on the next part. Even when we get busy, distracted, or aren’t able to get it all done in a week, it’s good to know we can make progress.

So, there’s room for improvement for me. How about you?

Week 13: “Real” Beverages

That means limiting all drink choices to water, tea, coffee, milk, limited juice, and wine in moderation (one drink for us ladies, possibly two for men). Tea, coffee, and the like should only be mildly sweetened with a little honey or 100% maple syrup according to the challenge website.

For me, most of this challenge won’t be a difficult task as I already try to drink this way (carbonation has always made me sick so I gave up soda as a child). With that said, I have a sweet tooth and I inherited multiple “bitter receptor” genes so cutting down the sugars/sweeteners will be the biggest challenge here for me.

Tips for Week 13: “Real” Beverages

  • 1 serving of 100% fruit juice is only 4 ounces.
  • 1 serving of wine varies depending on the type but table wine is generally 4-5 ounces; if you’re drinking port wine or something else, check out this graphic.
  • Consider drinking tap water from a purified source and check for BPA-free containers.
  • Bored of water? Consider jazzing it up by adding slices of fruit or herbs (check out some examples here) and you can always sweeten it a little bit.
  • Tea comes in a variety of flavors and caffeine content so try out different samples, combinations, and add slices of fruit or herbs to enhance flavor. If you want to try herbal tea and aren’t sure what you like, I suggest buying assorted sampler packs for affordable prices (usually online) or stop by a place like Teavana to try some out before you spend any money.
  • If you can’t tolerate coffee, want a caffeine-free alternative, or want to add flavor to your coffee without creamer, consider products such as Teecino (chocolate mint is my go-to) and Choffey.

What about you? Do you think you can clean up your drink choices? Even if you can do it for at least half of your choices, or even one meal a day, it’s progress.

Here’s to continuing to add two fruits/vegetables per meal AND only drinking “real” beverages. Next week I will recap on how both of these challenges are going for me.

Week 14 countdown: Fruits and Vegetables

According to the “14 steps to unprocessed foods” challenge I am participating in, I am to include two different fruits and/or vegetables at every meal.


First of all, I chose some of my already established breakfast choices and asked how I could add more fruits and vegetables to them. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Scrambled eggs or omelets: these are easy choices to add vegetables to. For convenience, I purchased frozen (usually organic for personal preference) vegetables and tossed them into the skillet first with olive or canola oil and then added my eggs, as desired. I stick with the general rule of a serving of vegetables as 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked.
  • Hot or cold cereal: another choices that made it easy to add fresh fruit to; strawberries, blueberries, and peaches are my top choices. I also like to add a little cinnamon for blood glucose control (see a post about this later) and taste.
  • Of course, if I didn’t feel like I could get enough in with what I was eating, other options included a yogurt with fruit added (I usually buy a large tub and add my own fruit), I could have a small glass of fruit/vegetable juice, or I could throw in whatever I felt like into a smoothie and take it with me to sip on throughout my morning.
  • Now, for my simple tastes, I could eat the cereal and/or eggs every other day for each day of the week and be satisfied. However, if you’re craving more adventure, I suggest that since we’re talking about fruits and vegetables, you take a visit to VegetarianTimes.com Breakfast Recipe Section or any recipe website/book you enjoy that will encourage you to add in more fruits and vegetables.


For lunch and/or dinner, I suggest falling back on “The Plate Method” because it allows you to pick the protein, vegetable, starch, and fat of your choices which is convenient when you’re at home or dining out. It’s also perfect if you’re a visual person. Now, The Plate Method is often something used for diabetics but even though I don’t have diabetes, I find it to be a very effective visual aid to remind people, including myself, of what a balanced meal consists of.

The Plate Method

The typical guidelines are:

  • Fill 1/2 of your plate with non-starchy vegetables
  • Fill 1/4 of your plate with lean protein
  • Fill 1/4 of your plate with starches (grains, breads, starchy vegetables)
  • Add a serving of fruit, if appropriate/desired
  • Use heart-healthy fats/oils for preparation
  • Add seasonings and spices with minimal sodium for flavor
  • For more details, check out the images linked above

I actually use this method when grocery shopping- sometimes I draw the plate out on a sheet of paper a few times and write in the different proteins, starches, etc. that I want in my meals for that week or I use the hand-drawn plates to come up with my meals. This method works great for simple meals. For combination meals and recipes, I like to use a variety of websites that give me the nutritional information such as http://www.eatingwell.com/.  As I mentioned above, there are some wonderful plant-based or vegetarian recipes out there that will help you figure out what fruits and vegetables to add to your meals- you can simply swap out their recommended meatless choices, such as soy, for your own meat of choice in the recipes.

Share with us! What are some tips or recipes you use to get more fruits and vegetables into your meals? Did any of my tips spark any ideas? Please share so that others may also benefit from your experiences. Also, keep an eye out as I will try to update this post with more tips, pictures of some of my meals, and recipe inspirations.


This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet or exercise routine.

14 weeks to clean: This RD’s journey and tips

I recently stumbled upon a “healthy eating” challenge called “Clean Eating in 14 Steps” where you are asked to swap out a behavior for a cleaner eating version each week.

I wanted to not only challenge myself and see if I could clean up my own diet but also to blog about each week and give my own suggestions on how you can make these changes, too!



So, what is clean eating anyways?

Well, first of all, I like to think of it more as a lifestyle than a strict dietary regimen. It’s about every time you are going to put food into your body, you go through a little mental checklist of things such as (and these are only examples as everyone’s vary based on their personal preferences):

  • Is this food in its whole, natural state?
  • If not, are there fewer than 5 ingredients, all of which I can pronounce, on the label?
  • Is it all-natural and/or organic?
  • If not, is it on a lower pesticide list?
  • If it’s a protein- are the animals fed an appropriate diet and given an appropriate environment?
  • Is it local?
  • And so much more depending on each person’s preferences.

The general idea, though, is to eat food as close to it’s natural, whole, and ‘clean’ form.

What do you have to look forward to in my coming blogs?

Each week I will focus on at least one aspect of the 14 week challenge that I found here!

I love that they kept the weekly objectives short and simple but I’m going to take each week and give it my own twist and offer suggestions and resources that you might find beneficial.

The breakdown will be similar to

  1. Real fruits and vegetables at each meal
  2. Real beverages
  3. Protein choices
  4. Fast food or deep-fried foods
  5. Trying new foods
  6. Fat
  7. Whole grains
  8. Feeling full
  9. Sweeteners
  10. Oils
  11. Artificial foods
  12. Simple and fewer ingredients

I know, it’s only 12 weeks. I’m sure I can come up with something else interesting to throw into my own version.


This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet or exercise routine.

November: Native American Heritage Month and Diabetes Awareness

Did you realize November is Native American Heritage Month? For me, this hits close to home as I am part Blackfoot. Being part Native American can increase your risk for developing Diabetes; as can having both parents diagnosed with Diabetes. Although I am a dietitian, and I try to eat balanced meals, I am considered “high risk” and try to each “consistent carbohydrates” throughout the day, meaning I try to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal as well as trying to eat 6 small meals throughout the day.

1 in 2 Native American Adults has Diabetes- that means 50%, whether they have been diagnosed or not.

The prevalence of having or developing Type 2 diabetes is higher for Native Americans than anyone else in the United States.

The American Diabetes Association has a special program for Native Americans called Awakening the Spirit.

Counting Carbohydrates: How-to:

Only a health care professional can tell you exactly how many carbohydrates you should be consuming. However, the general number of grams of carbohydrates is 45 – 60g per meal.

The brain needs a certain amount of glucose per day to function properly- usually recommended between 120 – 150g. Carbohydrates, throughout the day, can help provide this glucose so your brain and body functions properly.

What foods contain carbohydrates? Bread, grain, rice, cereal, fruit, juice, milk, yogurt, beans, soy products, ‘starchy’ vegetables, and sweets generally all contain carbohydrates. As to whether they are complex or simple carbohydrates is a different story.

How many carbohydrates are in your meal or snack?

  •  Read the label- carbohydrates are listed along with other helpful nutritional facts. Don’t forget to take the number of carbohydrates and multiply or divide by the number of servings you are consuming.
  • No label? Consider using this chart based on portion sizes:

Current Food Exchange Categories and   Values

Type   of Food Serving   Size* Calories Carbohydrates Fat
Vegetables 1/2   cup – 1 cup 25 5   grams 0
Fat-Free   or Very Lowfat Milk 3/4-1   cup 90 12 0
Very   Lean Protein 1   oz. (varies) 35 0 1
Lean   Protein 1   oz. (varies) 55 0 2-3
Medium   Fat Protein 1   oz. (varies) 75 0 5
Fruits 1   piece, 1/2-1 cup 60 15 0
Starches varies 80 15 0
Fats 1   tsp, 1-2 tbls. 45 0 5

Here are some recipes to consider for your Thanksgiving Meal. Why? Check out these holiday meal shockers: http://www.healthcastle.com/holiday_foods_shocker.shtml

Fitness Corner: Exercise Precautions with Diabetes

Exercise has so many health benefits but everybody is different and some should take precautions when exercising- especially if you have diabetes or a blood glucose-related condition such as reactive hypoglycemia. Why are there special precautions for diabetes? Exercise, depending on the type and intensity, can either increase or decrease blood glucose levels. What are some helpful precautions to take?

  • If you have an identification tag, wear it to the gym and everywhere else. This way, if something happens and you cannot communicate your medical condition, medical specialists will be able to take your condition into consideration when assisting you.
  • Establish a consistent eating, medication, and exercise routine, with pre- and post-workout meals as needed.
  • Ask your health professional about medication doses related to the intensity, duration, and time of exercise. The dosage and timing of a medication can impact your glucose levels during exercise.
  • Workout with a buddy! Aside from the extra motivation, a workout buddy who knows what to do if your blood glucose is out of control, can save your life.
  • Follow the American Diabetes Association Guidelines: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/suppl_1/s58.full

Once you have taken the proper precautions, be ready to see how exercise can benefit your diabetes and it’s related complications:

  • Can improve the body’s use of insulin
  • Burns calories which can burn excess fat which can aid in weight loss which can positively affect insulin sensitivity

October 16: World Food Day

Celebrate (Food) Culture and Diversity this October

What foods do you traditionally enjoy with your family? Everything from what you eat to what time of day you eat to what utensils you use (or don’t use!) contributes to your personal food culture. Food brings people together for festivals, weddings, birthdays, and simple social gatherings or romantic dates.

Take a chance this month to celebrate cultural diversity and embrace the nutritional aspects of a culture you have always been interested in trying. Grab some friends and make it an adventure. You may just find a fruit or vegetable you have never had before and love it! And if you do, you just have more diversity to add to your own diet.

What are some interesting foods you may want to experiment with?

Buddha’s Hand: Although it may look odd and almost like a hand, this fruit provides a significant amount of lemony zest for a variety of recipes. This hand is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants and makes a wonderful garnish or interesting centerpiece. Check your local Whole Foods for this divine fruit.

Manoomin is often mistaken for rice but is more similar to corn. It is indigenous to North America and harvested around the Great Lakes. This is an heirloom plant grown, harvested, and protected by Native Americans. If you are looking for a new rice-like ‘grain’ to incorporate into recipes, you will want to check online to find out where to buy this special crop.

Lopsided, uneven, and maybe ugly to some, the Ugli Fruit can be found in a number of grocery stores. Ugli fruit has vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and is easier to peel than one might think. If you like grapefruit or tangerines, you might want to give this beauty a try.

These ears are found on the side of trees and not animals so don’t be worried by their appearance. Wooded Ear Mushrooms are a source of vitamins B, C, and D as well as iron. You may encounter these mushrooms in Asian cuisine so the next time you’re at out for an Eastern-inspired restaurant, look to see if you can sample these strange looking creatures.