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Eating Healthy

Evaluating the Processed Foods in Your Diet

by Molly Capito 5. August 2015

What is a processed food?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, processed foods fall into a spectrum ranging from minimally processed to heavily processed:

  • Minimally processed foods-foods that are simply pre-prepped for convenience, such as bagged spinach, cut vegetables, and shelled, roasted nuts
    • encourages those "busy-bees" to eat healthier due to convenience
  • Processed foods also include canned or frozen items, such as canned beans, tuna, tomatoes or frozen choices such as fruit and vegetables
    • locks in vitamins and nutrients when they are at their peak freshness; more cost friendly; can be sold and eaten when fruits and vegetables are out of season
  • Ingredients can be added for flavor or texture such as oils, sweeteners, vitamins and spices
    • Breakfast cereals can have added fiber; milk and juices go through fortification to add in calcium and vitamin D
  • Ready to eat foods- crackers, granola, deli meat- these such foods are more heavily processed
    • One of the main contributors to one's daily sodium intake, is the added salt found in deli meats and other food items to assist in preservation of the product; trans fats can be found in crackers, increasing shelf life but are also shown to raise your bad cholesterol
  • Heavily processed foods- frozen or pre-made meals including microwavable dinners and frozen pizza
    • A huge contributor to increased sodium consumption-potentially leading to high blood pressure; trans fats are only found in processed foods as they assist in the preservation of a food, therefore increasing shelf life

While some processed foods should be consumed with caution, such as the heavily processed foods, there are many minimally processed foods that should have a definite place in a balanced diet!

What kind of processed foods do you consume?






Healthy Tips

3 Stove 'less' Meals to help you Beat the Summer Heat

by Molly Capito 5. August 2015

We all know with nice weather can come that dreaded humidity.  When it comes to meal preparation, finding ways to eliminate that added heat from your home can be quite a relief with some creativity.  The following three meal ideas incorporate the idea of a healthful, well balanced diet, having the components of a MyPlate setup.  In addition, the recipes encompass the use of locally grown items such as tomatoes, broccoli, salad greens and many others. 

Microwave Stuffed Potatoes

Utilize your microwave for easy stuffed potatoes.

  • Prick medium russet or sweet potatoes with a fork and microwave on high power 6-8 minutes or until tender
  • Split potatoes and scoop out some of the flesh
  • Add your favorite seasonings, mix and spoon back into potato shells (I recommend using a product off of the Mrs. Dash line, salt-free seasoning)
  • Top baked potatoes with guacamole, chopped tomato and cilantro, or stuff sweet potatoes with broccoli, walnuts and dried cranberries
  • Sour cream lover?...to eliminate that unnecessary saturated fat to the top of a potato, try dolloping plain, low fat Greek yogurt for a similar taste- bringing a healthful source of added calcium and protein to your dinner

Mexican Black Bean Salad

Mix up this Mexican meatless meal.

  • Toss canned (drained and rinsed) low sodium beans with fresh corn and diced tomato, bell pepper and red onion
  • Add diced avocado, jicama or diced mango for more adventurous eaters
  • Toss with lime juice and olive oil
  • Serve over crunchy romaine lettuce with crushed whole-grain tortilla chips

Chicken Salad Sliders

A "kid pleasing" meal without the stove.

  • Mix together chopped chicken (rotisserie chicken), toasted and chopped pecans or walnuts, quartered seedless grapes, light mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt, chopped tarragon and salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve on whole-grain slider buns, bread or in pita pockets

Try to steer clear of those fast-food salads and sandwich favorites.  They may bring convenience but they also bring unnecessary added sodium, hidden in even those healthier salad options at local fast-food restaurants.  Reserve those stops for once or twice a month.  Take that extra time to go to your local farm stands, and choose locally grown produce. Finally, I encourage you all to try one, or all of these recipes, and get creative with what this summer season has to offer us, while beating that summer heat!




Enjoying ice cream without giving your diet the “cold-shoulder”

by Ashley Willson 9. July 2015

With the sunshine and warmer temperatures finally setting in, I could not resist the urge to celebrate with a trip to Stewart’s for a Make-your-Own Ice Cream Sundae (Yes it’s true, some dietitians do eat ice cream)!   As delicious as it was, I couldn’t help but think of how much I might be breaking the “calorie bank” for that day (even with the mile I walked to get to the ice cream.) According to the USDA’s website, www.choosemyplate.gov, the average hot fudge sundae using soft serve ice cream and a whipped topping has greater than 400 calories, and that’s not counting nuts, sprinkles, and of course a cherry!  Toss on a few extra toppings-caramel, peanut butter, marshmallow, etc., and your frozen treat is now a frozen dinner with well above the daily recommended amount for saturated fats and added sugars. Not to mention, I probably ‘burned’ less than 100 calories round-trip with my walk.

So how can we solve the summer-time sweet tooth dilemma without the sacrifice of never stepping foot into Stewart’s or Jumpin’ Jack’s again?   Here are a few ‘cool’ suggestions to try:

1.       Portion control is the key.  Try to order a single scoop or ‘kiddie’ size serving when asked.  Keep in mind, a ½ cup ice cream can provide anywhere from 150-300 calories!!  If it is a self-serve (such as frozen yogurt shops), choose the smallest container available.  Think smaller bowl, smaller portion. Skip the cone (especially the chocolate dipped waffle cones) to cut back on unnecessary calories. 

2.       Choose fresh fruit as toppings.  If fresh fruit is not available, pick one topping and keep it to no more than a tablespoon.  Remember, whip cream is heavy cream and sugar, and it is NOT calorie free!

3.       Share your ‘splurge!’  With following tips 1 and 2, grab an extra spoon and offer to share your treat with a friend (even if they have four legs and a wagging tail-just remember, no chocolate for our furry friends.)

4.       Walk or ride your bike! Even though you may not burn as many calories as your treat contained, it can always put a dent in it. Besides, we could all use a little more vitamin D rightjQuery152027445818829247287_1436468951874

At the end of the day, there is no better season than summer to enjoy a delicious ice cream sundae.  Savor those treats only once in a while!

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Healthy Tips

A Meal to Please with Omega-3’s

by Carolyn DePuy 18. June 2015

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are considered “heart healthy” and have been shown to help lower triglyceride levels, reduce the risk of blood clots, reduce the overall risk for heart attacks, and lower blood pressure levels. Omega-3’s also reduce inflammation, which plays a major role in heart disease. The Heart Healthy Diet guidelines recommended two, four-ounce servings of fish per week.

Add salmon into your diet by trying this easy and delicious recipe -

Honey Dijon Glazed Salmon


4 (4-5 ounce) Wild Caught Salmon Fillets

2 Tbsp. Honey

2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard

1 Tbsp. Low Sodium Soy Sauce

1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

1/8 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 tsp. Olive Oil

1 (5 ounce) Package Spinach




1.    Preheat oven to 400ºF.

2.    In a small bowl, whisk honey, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and black pepper; set aside.

3.    Add olive oil to a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat.

4.    Place salmon fillets into skillet, skin-side up, and sear 4-5 minutes or until golden brown.

5.    Turn fillets over and spoon 1 tablespoon of glaze evenly over each.

6.    Transfer skillet to oven and bake 15 minutes or until fillets are cooked through and flake easily with a fork.

7.    Top with remaining glaze if desired; serve.


Recipe Note:  No oven-safe skillet? Transfer seared fillets to a baking dish and bake as directed.




Recipe Source: Weis Markets Healthy Bites Magazine




Gluten Free Diets: A Special Report

by Melissa Stopera 13. May 2015

Good Afternoon,

I am writing today to share a story that was recently run on Channel New 10, which I am featured in.

This segment is informative & aims to dispel a common misconception that following a Gluten Free diet automatically results in weight loss and or increased energy levels. 

This is a common source of confusion for people, and I believe the news10 video sheds light on the reality behind this popular recent diet craze.

Check it out!




A Family Meal Has Health Appeal

by Carolyn DePuy 19. March 2015

For most busy families, sitting down together for a healthy meal can be a challenge. Balancing work and personal life is hard enough. Now add children with competing schedules including sports practices, music lessons, dance lessons, and after school activities and the combination makes sharing a daily meal nearly impossible. However, there is strong evidence to support that making an effort to have family meals is worthwhile.

Research has shown that family meals promote healthier eating as well as a variety of other benefits. One specific outcome suggests that children who frequently engage in family meals achieve higher intakes of calcium, iron, fiber and many vitamins overall. It has also been shown that kids who eat regular family meals are less likely to be overweight or obese. And it doesn’t end there.

Other benefits of having family meals include:

Ø  Sitting down for meals as a family teaches children social skills and manners.

Ø  Teenagers who eat with their families are less likely to use drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.

Ø  Kids who have family meals are less likely to suffer from mental health issues.

Ø  Because mealtime is a time to reconnect, families who eat together tend to be closer.

Ø  Some studies have found that more meals at home is the single strongest factor in better achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems in children of all ages.

Although family meals can’t guarantee your family a lifetime of health and happiness, they can certainly contribute to the cause.

So now that you have incentive to commit to family meals, it’s time to establish a strategy. Start by identifying obstacles to mealtime. Coordinating schedules can be tough, but it’s possible. Despite hectic lifestyles, many families are still able to make dinnertime a priority. Make a schedule. Set the expectation that family members will gather at specific times during the week for mealtime. These meeting times should be considered as important as other obligations. Additionally, getting your kids involved in meal planning and cooking can help keep them engaged and committed.  Keep mealtimes interesting by using them as an opportunity to teach your children about good nutrition. And remember, you are your child’s biggest role model, so be sure to stay dedicated to family mealtime as well.

Ultimately, now is the time to make a commitment as a family. Get the whole group together and promise each other to share mealtime as a family. Live up to that promise and watch your family grow closer and stronger.


Watch the Game and Your Waistline

by Carolyn DePuy 22. January 2015

The holiday season may be over but that doesn’t mean the end of opportunities to overindulge. Fast approaching is Super Bowl Sunday and a super bowl meal is usually SUPER sized. For example, two slices of pizza, four Buffalo wings, and a handful of chips can add up to over 1,000 calories, 50 grams of fat, and 2400 mg of sodium. This meal contains approximately the amount of sodium recommended for an entire day – so  it’s not just the game that’s raising your blood pressure! This year, try a different approach to the super bowl with tasty snacks that won’t sabotage a healthy diet. Here’s an RD approved recipe to try:

Buffalo Chicken Jalapeno Poppers

Serving Size: 2 Poppers

Calories: 92; Carbohydrate: 5 gm; Protein: 7 gm; Na: 173 mg; Cholesterol: 14 mg



10 jalapeño peppers, sliced in half lengthwise

1/2 cup - 1/3 less fat cream cheese

3 medium scallions, green part only, chopped

2 oz shredded low fat sharp cheddar

4 oz shredded chicken – (Note: Boil chicken breast and shred with fork)

1 Tbsp cup hot sauce or to taste (Note: This product is high in sodium so reducing as much as possible to taste will help to decrease sodium content)

1/2 cup egg whites, beaten

3/4 cup whole wheat panko crumbs

1/8 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp chili powder

Serves 10



Preheat oven to 350°F

Cut peppers in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds

Combine cream cheese, cheddar and scallions in a medium bowl

Mix in shredded chicken and hot sauce

Combine panko, paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder in a separate bowl

Fill peppers with chicken filling with a small spoon or spatula

Dip peppers in egg whites, then in panko mixture to coat

Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Spray the peppers with small amount of cooking spray
Bake until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes

Remove from oven and serve immediately


Warning: Recipe is spicy!


Vary Your Veggies: Cauliflower

by Melissa Stopera 14. January 2015

It’s 2015.  I am not quite certain what your New Year’s resolution was, but hopefully you are still diligently attempting to accomplish and work towards your goals.

Personally, I am working on increasing the amount of vegetables in my diet.  This can be very challenging, and at the beginning of 2015 I was working to accomplish this goal by eating more salad.   Singularly incorporating one technique is not a recipe for success, and after eating salad many days in a row, I grew weary.  This led me to start thinking outside of the box to continue to work towards my goal.

Which leads me here today to blog about my new favorite vegetable: CAULIFLOWER.  Cauliflower is an extremely versatile cruciferous vegetable that is a good source of vitamin C.  One cup of steamed cauliflower contains roughly 25 calories, and 5g of Carbs (roughly half the carbs are fiber, and cauliflower is a very low glycemic index food).

My favorite new recipe is “cauliflower fried rice”.  It is extremely easy to make.  I simply took a head of cauliflower, and “riced” it in my food processor on the pulse setting.  After ricing one head of cauliflower, I cooked it for 3-5 minutes on high heat (stirring continuously) in a small amount of olive oil.  This turns the cauliflower rice golden brown, and gives it a rice-like flavor and texture.

In a separate pan, I sautéed onions, peppers, and broccoli.  Some of the recipes I reviewed online suggested peas and carrots.  Whichever vegetable(s) you prefer will work.

After cooking all the cauliflower rice, I mixed it in with the sautéed vegetables.  I created a hole in the middle of the mixture and cracked 2 eggs.  I mixed the eggs into the mixture until they were cooked. 

Voila!  There you have it.  Cauliflower Fried Rice.  It is delicious.  One head of cauliflower produced roughly 4 servings. I opted to add tofu to make this a complete meal, and encourage adding any lean protein of your choice to make this an enjoyable dish.  I also added calorie free/carb free Asian sauce for flavor.  You could certainly use reduced sodium soy sauce (sparingly, this is usually still high in sodium) as an alternative.

Producing this in bulk has made it significantly easier for me this week.   I can simply grab it and reheat it.  There are numerous other ways to utilize cauliflower, and this is just one small example of how a little effort can go a long way!


80/20 Eating

by Yvonne Best 22. December 2014

Ever wonder how a registered dietitian eats? I know that when people see me eating, I get questions such as… “Is that healthy?” “How many calories are in that?”, “Are you REALLY going to eat that? But you’re a dietitian!”

You would be correct in assuming that I have a very healthy diet… Most of the time. Myself and many dietitians that I know DO have a healthy diet overall. But, we are all human too! Many people are surprised to find that I love sweets and pizza. The keys are… moderation and portion control.

A majority of the time, your diet (“diet” meaning what you eat) should look like MyPlate and consist of healthy foods: lean protein, fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low fat or fat free dairy. Foods like sweets, desserts, fried foods, fast food, and sugary drinks such as soda, juice, and energy drinks should be considered as treats and consumed in moderation. I like to point out that a dietitian’s definition of “moderation” may differ from yours or someone else you may know.

When a dietitian says unhealthy foods in “moderation”, we mean a treat once or twice a week, or depending on how unhealthy the food is, we mean only once or twice a month. You can also spread your treats out throughout the week (e.g. one cookie a day for dessert). I myself like to have two days per week where I consume a meal that I consider a treat. I affectionately refer to these as my “pig out days”. Think of it as an 80/20 rule… 80% of your diet should be healthy foods; unhealthy foods can fit into 20% of your diet.

Admittedly, eating healthier does take some planning and can be difficult at first, especially around the holidays. Be realistic with your healthy eating goals and don’t be too hard on yourself if you “fall off the wagon”. When choosing foods, eat for your health and remember how much good nutrition can impact both your physical and mental health. You are what you eat and we only get one body!


Healthy Tips

Five Steps to Smarter Snacking

by Carolyn DePuy 11. November 2014

Worried your next snack attack will sabotage a day of healthy eating? Don't be! Snacking isn't about vending machines and mindless eating in front of the TV; when done right, snacking can boost your energy, keep your blood sugar steady between meals and help you meet your daily nutrient needs.

1.       Plan Ahead

Don't let hunger catch you off guard. Pack a snack when you know you will be out of the house for more than a few hours. Grab-and-go fast food will be far less tempting if you have a healthy snack in your bag.

2.       Time it Right

Does your energy level plummet in the late afternoon? A balanced snack bridges the energy gap between lunch and dinner. Prevent an energy crash by eating a 200-calorie-or-under snack when you start to feel hungry, but don't wait too long. If you're too ravenous you'll be tempted to raid the vending machine for a sugary fix instead of eating the nutrient-filled snack you brought from home.

3.       Mix it Up

Aim to incorporate two food groups into each snack. For example, mix vegetables with protein, or fruit with dairy. Try pretzels with low-fat string cheese, peanut butter spread on an apple or hummus on a whole-wheat tortilla. Snacks are a great way to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet.

4.       Read the Label

Snacks like energy bars and trail mix can contain a lot of calories, fat and sugar. Read the nutrition facts label before eating and adjust your portion size accordingly.

5.       Practice Mindful Snacking

Don't multitask when snacking—this can easily lead to eating more than you need. Take time to enjoy your snack, and listen to your body's cues that you've had enough. Use snack time as a mini-break in your busy day.

RD Approved Snacks:


Dijon Pretzels: Two pretzel rods with one tablespoon Dijon mustard


Carrots & Hummus: Ten baby carrots with two tablespoons hummus


Chocolate Trail Mix: Eight almonds, four chocolate chips, and one tablespoon raisins


Cottage Cheese Melon Boat: One cup melon balls with one-half cup non-fat cottage cheese


Apple Slices & Peanut Butter:  Small apple, sliced and dipped in teaspoon peanut butter



Reference:  http://www.eatright.org


Healthy Tips