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Eating Healthy

The Perks of Prunes

by Molly Capito 28. November 2015

Not a fan of pitted prunes or prune juice?  I am currently studying to become at dietitian at SUNY College at Oneonta and an experiment that I took place in tested whether prune puree is a reliable replacement for butter to create a more heart healthy, lower fat acceptable cookie.

With our variable batches of Betty Crocker’s double chocolate chip cookie recipe, it was found that pureed prunes provide cookies with a richer, thicker consistency.  With the added fiber from a natural source, such as a pureed fruit, it allows for the cookies to bake and not flatten out as much as a regular cookie with butter normally would.  Also, for you chocolate lovers, adding prune puree to double chocolate chip cookies brings out the chocolaty flavor one would expect from a cookie, while getting vitamin A and fiber you would regularly not get from a cookie!                                          

Thickness increases as pureed prune content increases in picture below. (From left to right- 0% pureed prune, 50% pureed prune, 75% pureed prune, 100% pureed prune)

How to make your own prune puree-

Add in 6 tablespoons of hot water to 8 oz of whole pitted prunes.  Puree in a food processor until a smooth consistency results. 

To replace butter, add in an equal amount of pureed prunes.


Double chocolate chip cookies with pureed prunes



Packed brown sugar

½ cup

Butter, unsalted


Prune Puree

¼ cup

Vanilla extract

½ tsp

Egg whites

1 egg white

All-purpose flour

½ cup

Unsweetened baking cocoa

3 T

Baking soda

½ tsp



Semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup




Preparation Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and pureed prunes with an electric mixer on medium

speed until light and fluffy, or mix with spoon. Beat in vanilla and

egg white.                                                                                                                                        



2. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Onto an ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart.




3. Bake 7 MINUTES. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookies sheet onto a wire rack.


Next time you bake, whether it is for a weekend event or for the holiday season, consider swapping butter for a healthy fruit puree such as this!





Wake Up with Pumpkin

by Kim Peck 18. October 2015

Pumpkin spice deliciousness is in high demand once the weather turns cool and the leaves begin to change.  But how often do you add fresh pumpkin to your meals?  

Not just a coffee flavoring, pumpkin can now be found in the supermarkets as an addition to breakfast cereals, yogurts, and even tortilla chips!  This bright orange winter squash is full of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and is also a good source of fiber.  Specifically, one cup of cooked pumpkin contains over 200% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A, an important nutrient in our diet.  The National Institutes of Health list the benefits of vitamin A as including a critical role in vision, immune function and cell growth.  

Pumpkin can be easily added to recipes by mashing, pureeing or baking.  The seeds can be spiced and roasted for a fulfilling snack.  One easy way to start adding pumpkin into your day is with a morning smoothie. Listed below is an easy recipe to try; I used 100% pure canned pumpkin for my puree to save time.  

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (2 Servings)

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 ripe banana

1 cup* unsweetened soy milk, or milk beverage of choice

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 ice cubes

Combine all listed ingredients into a blender and blend to desired consistency.  Pour into glasses and serve.

*This produces a very thick shake.  If a thinner consistency is desired, add another 1/2 cup of unsweetened soy milk/milk beverage to thin the shake out.

Nutrition Facts, per serving:  166 calories, 5 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, 5 g fiber

Recipe adapted from Whole Foods Market recipe:  Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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Farewell: Carolyn DePuy

by Melissa Stopera 15. October 2015

It is with regret that I am writing today to announce the resignation of Carolyn DePuy, effective 10/16/2015.  Carolyn has been a vital member of our Clinical Nutrition team at Ellis Medicine and has made multiple contributions to her patients, the community, and her colleagues.  It is hard to summarize all the accomplishments that Carolyn has made during her time with us at Ellis, but I will outline the most memorable:

·        Build and implemented a 28 day cycle menu in Computrition at Ellis Health Center

·        Helped implement tray in motion application using iPods to track patient tray location in real time

·        Acted as superuser/on site expert for Computrition

·        Designed back up menus with enhanced safety procedures (food allergies) for coordinating meal service to patients in the event of an emergency

·         Preceptor for Sage graduate students

·         Presented at Medical Grand Rounds

·         Multiple committee involvements

·         Attended ASPEN conference with Ellis Nutrition team in 2015

·         Pursing advanced practice certification in Clinical Nutrition Support

We wish her well in her future endeavors and hope that our paths will cross again.  She is an inspiration, and we can’t wait to see where her future takes her.

Thanks Carolyn!


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!