Keep Cool in the Kitchen with 7 Easy Tips


I love to cook…or to be more truthful, I love home cooked meals. As a dietitian, I feel that preparing a majority of my meals at home is a top “must do” to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, between the dog days of summer and my impeccable knack of picking out living establishments in which the kitchen seems to absorb heat, home cooked meals can become a daunting task.

So over the years I have experimented with different tricks of the trade to allow for my home “cooked” meals without sweating it out in the kitchen during the hotter months. Here are some fun tips to keep healthy this summer while staying cool.

Put It on a Grill

Ok, you’re still probably sweating outside, but you get to enjoy nature and avoid heating up the house with your oven. If you’re not a grillmaster, don’t let that stop you. Try this recipe for Spicy Grilled Peach and Chicken Kabobs.

Fill Up on Appetizers

This may sound strange at first because nutritionist usually say to avoid apps. But, I have on numerous occasions picked up a veggie tray, added some diced fruit, cubed cheese, and pecans or almonds and called it dinner. You can also experiment with some lighter dips like bean dip, hummus, or Baba Ganoush for a little pizzazz. I enjoy dinners like this because it’s easy to prepare and something out of the ordinary, but still provides a great amount of nutrition and variety.

Sass-up the Sammy

Sandwiches make a great no-cook dinner and with some creativity you don’t have to have the same-old boring lunch sandwich. Like this recipe for Asparagus Salmon Spring Rolls.

Dress Up Your Salad

Salads are fantastically refreshing and light on those hot summer nights. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Some of my favorites salads do not even include the traditional lettuce, like this  Chickpea, Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad. I add red onions to mine and have a whole-wheat pita on the side. Or you can try this Arugula, Italian Tuna, and White Bean Salad for something even heartier.

Make Your Side Dish the Star

You can make some delicious no cook sides instead of a time-intensive main course. This Strawberry, Cucumber, Basil Salad would pair perfectly with a a rotisserie chicken from the grocery (let them heat up the ovens while you stay cool at home). I replace the sugar with Stevia to reduce calories and I just like the taste.

Eat Out…At the Grocery Store!

Grocery stores have expanded their deli sections to provide more and more healthy, ready-to-eat options that you can take home on those hot or busy nights instead of fast food or restaurant foods.

Look for foods that are grilled, broiled or baked to keep calories in check and pair with an assortment of veggies. Don’t forget dessert- no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream and fruit is always a sweet surprise.

Choose Soup

Yep, I said soup. But I’m thinking chilled soups for summer. I used to turned my nose up at cold soup until I tried a cold peach soup and I was hooked. There are so many delicious options and combinations: Gazpacho, avocado and cucumber; it is endless. Instead of sugar, try a dash of Stevia in this delicious Watermelon Soup for a fresh summer meal without the extra calories.

Bonus recipe: Iced Sun Tea

Sun Tea was a staple in my childhood home and nothing is more thirst quenching on hot summer days than iced sun tea. I sweeten mine with a touch of Stevia to keep it calorie free and natural.

 

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Six Tips for a Safe and Healthy Summer Picnic


July is a fantastic time of year for combing two of my favorite activities – enjoying the outdoors and… EATING!

It should come as no surprise that in the United States, July is National Hot Dog Month, National Blueberry Month, National Grilling Month and, of course, National Ice Cream Month. When you combine 4th of July celebrations plus the warm weather, you’ve got a month full of eating outdoors. But, warm summer temperatures can make eating out in nature a bit more risky. Here are some simple tips that you can use to enjoy your picnic without worry.

Keep it Clean

Bring soap, antibacterial lotion, or wipes to help prevent contamination to clean hands and utensils. Do not reuse plates or utensils that have come in contact with raw meats. Keep seafood, red meat, pork and chicken all separate so there’s no cross-contamination.

Food Prep

Defrost meats at home in the refrigerator before you pack them up for grilling and rinse fruits and vegetables before packing them up, so they’re already clean when you’re ready to eat.

Pack it Up and Pack it In

Separate raw and cooked foods in separate coolers- this is important! Be sure to pack raw meats in tightly sealed bags or containers.

Cooler 101

Be sure to get a well-insulated cooler that will keep food at 40 degrees and below. A well-stocked cooler will keep the temperature better so try to bring the right size for the amount of food you will be bringing. Hot food needs to be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit and above and cold foods need to be kept at 40 degrees and below.

Consider bringing multiple coolers, that way you can keep drinks in a separate cooler so that food/ice is not warmed up with frequent opening of the cooler. Replenish ice and drain off water used for food storage. Finally, make sure your cooler is sitting in a shaded area.

Pitch it

Throw out any perishable foods that have sat out for more than 2 hours or 1 hour when it is 90 degrees and above.

Take a Temp

Use a food thermometer to check if food is cooked to the appropriate temperature. Check out FoodSafety.org for a list of safe temperatures to remember.

Delicious Dishes Perfect For Sharing

Here are great picnic staples that have been altered to make them safe and healthy options – and delicious to boot!

  • OilVinegar Slaw. This recipe ditches the mayonnaise and uses Stevia to cut fat and calories. The vinegar base makes it very refreshing on a hot day and won’t turn as easily in the heat sans mayo. You could jazz this recipe up by adding dried cranberries for a new twist.
  • Red Sangria. This low-sugar spin on a refreshing cocktail use Stevia and diet soda to add sweetness without the add calories. Feel free to go heavy on the fruit is this delightful summer drink.
  • Cucumber Dill Salad. Cucumber salad is a family staple when it is too hot to stay in the kitchen for long. This recipe uses Stevia to cut sugar and calories.

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Find Inspiration to Eat Healthier This Summer


June is upon us and for those of you contemplating a healthier diet or even just looking to get re-inspired, there couldn’t be a better time to get started. Why is this such a great time to get started you ask?

The summer months are when the Farmers Markets come to life! You will get the greatest variety of delicious in-season foods to get your taste buds excited about healthy eating. I love Farmers Markets! The aroma of fresh roasted coffee, the smell of freshly made whole grain bread, and especially the feeling that any meal I make with those ingredients will be professional caliber. I find the Farmers Market really inspires me to want to fill my diet with healthy and whole foods and even gets me excited about being in the kitchen!

How can you use your local farmers markets to get inspired to eat healthy?

Push yourself to try a food you have never tried before.

The farmers market is how I began my love affair with pomegranates, persimmons, and spaghetti squash. If you are lucky enough to have an international market around you…even better! You can finda cache of delicious and exotic fruits and vegetables, like Spanish Lime– a soft, juicy fruit from South America that’s like a cross between a lychee and a lime.

Revisit foods you may not have liked in the past.

You may be surprised to find you can get a completely different flavor from local foods. I love tomatoes, but I have never run into a tomato that I could pop in my mouth like candy until I had them from our local market. I tried a new recipe once I decided to give Brussels sprouts another go after a checkered history. They are now one of my go-to veggies when they’re in season. This recipe uses lemon Stevia to give the Brussels sprouts a touch of sweetness.

Look for deals.

You can save a lot of money on foods that grow in abundance in your area. Locally sourced fruits, veggies, and other goods support your local community! Smart tip: hit up the farmers market in their last hour. Many farmers will negotiate on the price of leftover product, if they haven’t sold out already.

Have a few recipes in mind before you go.

This can help you to feel less overwhelmed. I recently made this recipe for no-sugar added blueberry crisp using fresh (and cheap!) berries from the market. I love using the Stevia to create a sweet treat without the added sugar so I can enjoy guilt-free.

Think outside the box.

There are even more options beyond your typical meat, veggie, fruit, etc. I will use fresh herbs from the market to create my own teas and spice mixes.

Have fun and do not be afraid to experiment.

This Southwest Gazpacho Soup is going to be my next adventure using Farmers Market finds.

Too busy to go the actual farmers market? Check out local food delivery businesses in which you can get farm fresh foods delivered to your door for a convenient farmers market experience. So, when you get a chance checkout your local farmers market and start a love affair with healthy and fresh foods!

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

All about All-Natural Stevia


So you’ve probably been hearing a lot about Stevia lately, a new zero calorie sweetener that’s becoming pretty popular. Earlier this month we talked about the difference between stevia extract and stevia whole leaves. But is it a safe alternative to other low-cal sweeteners?

The word “stevia” refers to the entire plant and its components, only some of which are sweet. The sweet tasting components of the stevia plant are called steviol glycosides or rebaudioside A.

Stevia has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years and it’s been widely used for decades as a sweetener in Japan and Paraguay . In the US, stevia sweeteners are primarily found in tabletop products and reduced calorie beverages.

Recent studies, including human studies on safety, metabolism and intake, have shown that stevia sweeteners are safe to use. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has conducted a thorough scientific review of the existing scientific data on steviol glycosides and concluded that they are safe for use in food and beverages.

Based on the wealth of published research, independent scientific experts in both the U.S. and globally have concluded that stevia sweeteners are safe for people of all ages and populations and an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of four mg/kg body weight (expressed as steviol) has been established. The estimated intake of steviol glycosides even among the highest consumers does not exceed the ADI.

Clinical studies have also shown that steviol glycosides, meeting purity criteria established by JECFA, have no effect on either blood pressure or blood glucose response, which means people with diabetes can use stevia. Another benefit of stevia sweeteners: there are no known allergies to stevia sweeteners.

As an all-natural sugar substitute with zero calories, stevia sweeteners can help reduce or replace calories in foods and beverages and offer low and no calorie alternatives for people looking to lose and control weight. Consuming beverages and foods with stevia sweeteners as part of a healthful diet and lifestyle, including regular physical activity, can assist with weight control and weight loss.

What’s the Difference Between Stevia Extract and Stevia Leaves?


For the past few years you haven’t been able to talk about dieting and healthy eating without hearing about stevia, natural sweetener that’s becoming popular in the United States. Stevia rebaudiana is a South American plant native to Paraguay that has traditionally been used to sweeten beverages and make tea. The word “stevia” refers to the entire plant and its components, only some of which are sweet. So what’s the difference between the whole stevia leaf and the stevia you end up putting in your coffee?

Whole leaf stevia has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years.  The stevia leaves were collected, dried and milled into a fine powder. Because whole leaf stevia contains both sweet and non-sweet components, it often has an licorice-like aftertaste.  Over the years new technology has made it possible to extract the naturally sweet components of stevia and minimize the aftertaste to provide the type of products that we see on grocery shelves today.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes stevia sweeteners, composed primarily of rebaudioside A and stevioside, as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use  in foods and beverages.  However, the FDA has not approved, nor accepted as  GRAS , the whole leaf stevia or the use of crude stevia extracts as sweeteners. Whole leaf and crude extracts of stevia remain under review because there is inadequate safety information.   Whole leaf and crude extracts of stevia, therefore, can only be sold as dietary supplements in the US.

As an all-natural sugar substitute with zero calories, stevia sweeteners can help reduce or replace calories in foods and beverages and offer low and no calorie alternatives for people looking to lose and control weight. Consuming beverages and foods with stevia sweeteners as part of a healthful diet and lifestyle, including regular physical activity, can assist with weight control and weight loss.

Keep the Holiday Spirit, Not the Seasonal Weight Gain – Preparing Favorite Holiday Foods with Stevia Instead of Sugar Cuts Calories


December often means a calendar packed with holiday parties and high-calorie foods. While in the thick of the holiday season, many can find themselves getting thicker around the middle.

Weight gained over the winter holidays is not typically lost during the following year. Experts say that the average one pound gained between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can add up to five, ten, even 20 extra pounds over the years. However, making some new changes to favorite recipes can help cut calories and keep weight gain at bay. Award-winning author, culinary expert and internationally-recognized chef Amy Riolo recommends substituting stevia, a zero-calorie sweetener, in place of sugar in some holiday classics, such as pumpkin pie.

“With the holidays here, it’s always a struggle to eat right. By replacing the added sugar with stevia, we’ve already cut way down on calories,” said Riolo. In the new video series at SteviaBenefits.org, Riolo prepares several recipes with stevia, including pan-Seared ahi tuna, fresh fruit yogurt parfait and whole wheat oat apple cranberry muffins as well as the holiday favorite. The website also features other holiday favorites with stevia as a sugar substitute such as cheesecake, brownies and red velvet cupcakes.

While used abroad for many years, stevia has more recently caught on in the United States as a sweetener. And in November, the European Commission approved stevia as a sweetener in foods and beverages. “Stevia provides the food and beverage industry with a wider repertoire for delivering zero-calorie sweetness and offering additional variety and choice for consumers,” said Haley Stevens, Ph.D., President of the Calorie Control Council, a non-profit international trade association of manufacturers of low-calorie and sugar-free foods and beverages.

Made from leaves of a plant of the Chrysanthemum family, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) is native to Paraguay and is grown today in many countries around the world. Steviol glycosides are found in the leaves of the stevia plant and each has a particular taste profile and sweetness intensity. Rebaudioside A is one of the many steviol glycosides in stevia leaves that provide sweetness.

As a safe zero calorie alternative to sugar in foods and beverages, experts also say stevia works well for individuals with diabetes because it doesn’t affect blood glucose levels.

For more information about stevia and how it can be used in recipes, visit internationalsteviacouncil.org

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The Calorie Control Council, established in 1966, is an international non-profit association representing the low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry. Today it represents 40 manufacturers and suppliers of low-calorie, low-fat and light foods and beverages, including the manufacturers and suppliers of more than a dozen different dietary sweeteners, fat replacers and other low-calorie ingredients.