Fennel, Beet and Orange Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

With beets now showing up more frequently on the stand at your local farmer’s market and with citrus fruits becoming more available at your local grocery store, this Fennel, Beet, and Orange Salad with a cumin vinaigrette will be the perfect side dish since it has a nice contrast of textures and flavors and is rich in folate, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, manganese, and riboflavin.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium beets, roasted peeled, halved and cut in thin half-moons
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed, quartered, cored and sliced very thin across the grain
  • 1 navel orange, peeled, pith cut away, and cut in thin rounds or sections
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • ¼teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lightly toasted cumin seeds, crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 small garlic clove, puréed (optional)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

PREPARATION

  1. Combine beets, fennel, orange slices or medallions, mint and cilantro in a large salad bowl.
  2. Whisk together lemon or lime juice, sugar, cumin, salt, optional garlic and olive oil. Toss with the salad and serve.
Nutritional information per serving:

134 calories; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 13 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 72 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 2 grams protein

Resource:  NYtimes.com

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You can’t beat a beet!

by Staci O’Connor MS, RD, CLC, CDN

The white beet was developed in the 18th century and the colonists brought the red and sugar beets to America in the 19th century.  Beets are now commercially grown in 31 states, California being the nation’s largest supplier.  Beets can range in color from dark purple to bright red, yellow, and white.   There is even a Chioggia beet which is red and white-striped and has the nickname “candy cane” beet.

Beets are a good source of folate, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, manganese, and riboflavin.  The beet greens, which are interchangeable with other mild-tasting greens like Swiss chard and spinach, are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C as well as a good source of manganese, potassium and riboflavin.

Beets are rich in antioxidants and may boost stamina to assist in exercising longer by improving muscle oxygenation during exercise.  Beets may also improve blood flow and may help lower blood pressure.  Beets are rich in a natural chemical called nitrates; through a chain reaction, your body will change nitrates into nitric oxide, which may help with blood flow, lower blood pressure, and may help to fight heart disease.  Beets also contain an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid which has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.  Finally, beets may help fight inflammation and the high fiber content of beets prevents constipation and promotes regularity.

When purchasing beets select red or white beets that are firm with smooth skins and non-wilted leaves.  Keep in mind the smaller the beet the more tender it will be.  Smaller beets (half-inch in diameter) are good for eating raw and medium to large-sized beets (more than three inches in diameter) are best for cooking.  Cooking beets will bring out their natural sweetness, but they can also be consumed raw, peeled and grated on top of a salad and even juiced.  You can also microwave beets.  If you decide to microwave beets, rinse the beet and cut all but an inch of the stalks.  Place the beet in a deep microwave-safe dish with about an inch of water on the bottom.  Microwave the beets for 2-4 minutes.  You will know if they are done when you pierce them with a fork, try not to overcook them!  If you decide to roast them, first peel them and then slice on a cutting board that is covered with wax paper.  Place the sliced beats on a foil lined baking dish and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.  Bake at 400 or 425 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. Stir them once or twice.  (You can also include carrots and sweet potatoes if you want to incorporate other vegetables with the beets for variety.)  Keep in mind you can also use the beet leaves as greens in a salad or you can cook them and add them to a side dish like cooked spinach.

Finally be aware that eating too many beets can turn your urine pink, which some may mistake for blood in the urine.  Also, if you get kidney stones and if you are advised to cut down on oxalates in your diet, be aware that beets are high in oxalates.

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Debbie Jeffery, RDN LD
About 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some time in her life, and worldwide, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. While some risk factors are out of our control, like genetics and getting older, there are things that can be done to lower your breast cancer risk. The American Institute of Cancer Research estimates that staying a healthy weight and exercising can prevent 38% of US breast cancer occurrences. Below are diet and lifestyle tips to help you fight breast cancer.
• Manage your weight. Being overweight or obese increases your breast cancer risk. For women who gain weight as adults and after menopause, this is especially true. What contributes to the increased risk is that estrogen is produced in the fatty tissue. The good news is that evidence shows that weight loss can lower the risk. Reduce lifetime weight gain by limiting calories and getting regular physical activity.
• Limit alcohol. Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have 2 or more alcoholic beverages a day have about 1 1/2 times the risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than 1 drink daily for women. A drink is 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine or 1 1/2 ounces of hard liquor.
• Breastfeed for as long as possible. The protective effect is probably a result of the balance of hormones due to the breastfeeding process. In addition, when breastfeeding is stopped, the body rids the breast of many cells, some of which may have DNA damage. Breastfeeding for 2 years may reduce breast cancer risk by half.
• Increase fruit and vegetable intake. Research has found a positive correlation between a decrease in breast cancer risk and an increase in certain vitamins, such as vitamin C, A, and E. Fruits and vegetables are high in these vitamins and other antioxidants. Also because fruits and vegetables are low in calories & fat and high in fiber, they are helpful for weight control.
• Exercise regularly. Exercise is a breast-healthy habit supported by many studies. Having a regular physical activity routine can help decrease estrogen levels which can decrease risk for breast cancer.
For more information visit the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website, NBCAM.org.

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Are Gluten-Free Foods Right for Your?

By Debbie Jeffery, RDN LD
Gluten-Free is a current nutrition “hot” topic and many are using gluten-free products without first determining if it’s a good health choice for them. We know that gluten allergies and sensitivities are real. Celiac Disease is a medical condition that needs to be treated properly and the treatment involves avoiding gluten. Likewise when those that suffer from gluten sensitivities avoid gluten, symptoms disappear. However in growing numbers, those without either of these conditions are using gluten-free products in an effort to have a “healthier” diet.
There is nothing wrong with foods that are naturally gluten-free for example fruits, vegetables, beans, brown rice, nuts and quinoa. The problem is with food products on the grocery store shelves that are labeled “gluten-free”. If you decide to go gluten-free for reasons other than celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, below are factors to consider before assuming the product is a “healthier” alternative.
1. Fiber. Many gluten-free foods are made with rice or corn flour. In the process of making these flours, much of the fiber and essential nutrients are removed. Low fiber foods can have a higher glycemic effect (meaning they raise blood sugar levels more) than whole grains. If you’re trading a traditional whole grain cereal such as oat bran for a gluten-free cereal, you could be missing out on the benefits of a high fiber meal. A serving of oat bran will provide 4-6 grams of fiber, whereas a serving of gluten-free brown rice krisp provides less than 1 gram fiber.
2. Cost. Many gluten-free foods are more expensive. Gluten-free breads and cereals can be almost twice as expensive as traditional products without providing any benefit to those without an allergy or sensitivity to gluten.
3. Calories. A food product labeled “gluten-free” does not mean it is “calorie-free”. Gluten-free food products can contribute significant calories to the diet. Gluten-free bread can be almost twice as calorie dense as traditional wheat bread. Also, many food manufacturers are taking advantage of the popularity of gluten-free products and are adding the words “Gluten-Free” to the label of foods that have always been gluten-free. Those candy chews are still candy and sugar even though they are labeled “gluten-free”. Gluten-free does not make them any healthier.
Consider the above factors when deciding which foods are best for you!

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Dumbbells vs. Kettlebells

New trends continue to pop up within the health and fitness field every day. Many times we dive in head first in order to try the newest method of weight loss and fitness classes without really knowing what the reasoning behind it is. A major trend that has individuals swinging and using momentum to lift the weight are Kettlebells.

Besides the look of a kettlebell, what is the major difference between using them versus traditional dumbbells? As stated above, one of the biggest differences is the use of momentum and multi-joint based movements to create power and strength.

Involving multiple muscle groups and core movements with a kettlebell involves both strength and cardio into your workout. The momentum and swinging moves increase your heart rate and provide a greater use of range of motion and core strength.

Kettlebells also provide different grips and imbalances, unlike the dumbbell which has an even amount of weight on each end. The kettlebell has the weight in the middle, so when you are performing certain exercises, the weight shifts and changes throughout the movement.

However, even though they are great for explosive exercises and activate multiple muscle groups with each move, they have been shown in multiple studies to produce less strength gains than traditional dumbbells. You simply cannot increase the weight of a kettlebell the way you can with dumbbells and bars.

If your goal is to increase strength, stick to mainly using dumbbells and barbells with some exercises interchanged (ie. biceps curls, bent over rows). If your goal is to burn fat, gain endurance and power and slightly increase strength, than kettlebells may be a great option for you.

Kettlebells are worth checking out, but before you do, be sure to learn the proper form to avoid injury.

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High protein diets may lead to lower blood pressure

Adults who consume an average of 100 grams (g) of protein per day may be at a lower risk for developing high blood pressure (HBP). A recent study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, found participants consuming the highest amount of protein (an average of 100 g protein/day) had a 40 percent lower risk of having high blood pressure compared to the lowest intake level.

The researchers analyzed protein intakes of healthy participants from the Framingham Offspring Study and followed them for development of high blood pressure over an 11-year period. They found that adults who consumed more protein, whether from animal or plant sources, had statistically significantly lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure levels after four years of follow-up. In general, these beneficial effects were evident for both overweight and normal weight individuals. They also found that consuming more dietary protein also was associated with lower long-term risks for HBP (HBP is a risk factor for stroke and can contribute to heart disease). When the diet was also characterized by higher intakes of fiber, higher protein intakes led to 40-60 percent reductions in risk of HBP.

“These results provide no evidence to suggest that individuals concerned about the development of HBP should avoid dietary protein. Rather, ,” explained Lynn Moore, a corresponding author and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine suggests that “protein intake may play a role in the long-term prevention of HBP” and that “this growing body of research on the vascular benefits of protein, including this study, suggest we need to revisit optimal protein intake for optimal heart health”.

There are many factors that play a role in blood pressure regulation such as exercise habits, smoking history, weight control, electrolyte intake, etc. and more research is needed to determine the role that protein plays in blood pressure control.  Since protein plays a vital role in overall health, making sure you are taking in adequate protein is important; everyone has different protein needs (ranging from 0.8g per kg to 1.4+g per kg); ask your Registered Dietitian what your individualized needs are. Here is a sampling of protein sources and estimated protein content per suggested serving. Remember that plant foods can be good sources of protein too!

  • Lean meats such as chicken breast. A serving would be about the size of the palm of your hand or about 3 oz. (about 26 grams protein)
  • Seafood such as shrimp, lobster, flounder, salmon, etc. A serving be about the size of your hand or about 3-4 oz. (about 24-27 grams protein)
  • Eggs and egg whites. A serving would be 2 whole eggs or 6-8 egg whites or 1 whole egg and 4 egg whites. (about 14-20 grams protein)
  • Plant-based proteins such as beans and lentils or tofu. A serving of beans/lentils would be ½-1 cup. Tofu would be about a ½ cup (about 7-16 grams protein).
  • Nuts/nut butter and seeds. A serving is about ¼ cup or 1 oz. for nuts and seeds or 1 Tbsp. Nut butter (about 4-8 grams protein)
  • ¼ cup dry steel oats (5 grams protein)
  • 6 oz. of Greek yogurt = (~15 grams protein)

Reference:

R. Buendia, M. L. Bradlee, M. R. Singer, L. L. Moore. Diets Higher in Protein Predict Lower High Blood Pressure Risk in Framingham Offspring Study Adults. American Journal of Hypertension, 2014.

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Find Healthy Seafood with this New Guide

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released a Consumer Guide to Seafood with a Seafood Calculator that you can use to get a custom seafood list/recommendations based on your age, weight, and more! This guide is useful, but be sure to review the information the guide suggests for you with your physician and/or Registered Dietitian. A copy of the guide can be found here and you can click here to access EWG’s Seafood Calculator.

 

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