Secret Romano Marinara [red sauce]

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Photo: Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times

I am 100% Italian as far back as we know. Maiden name- Romano. My dad’s side- Sicilian and my mom’s from Northern Italy. My mom knows. how. to cook. and my dad – is the pickiest Italian man on the planet (but knows good food!). You can trust this sauce is delish, authentic + honestly, quite simple. We make it in large batches and throw it in the freezer, this way every time we cook we don’t have to make a fresh batch. It would be a sin in our house to use sauce from a jar- I think my parents would disown me entirely so I’ve learned freezing in batches DEFINITELY helps. There are variations of this sauce- she has a meat sauce, fish sauce, vodka sauce- it goes on and on but for today- lets start with the basic marinara sauce. 

ingredients 

  • 3-4 Tbsp of olive oil [enough to coat bottom of the pot]
  • 3-4 Cloves fresh galic, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp of sugar [we typically use 1.5 Tbsp sugar but you can sub 2 tsp Truvia]
  • 1 20oz can of Progresso whole tomatoes w/ basil [you can also use fresh tomatoes if you’re really feeling adventurous- we mostly use Progresso]
  • 1 Tsp dried or fresh basil

recipe

  1. Pour tomatoes into blender and blend just for a few seconds, until finely chopped
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, saute garlic and oil. Do not let garlic brown.
  3. Pour in blended tomatoes and add remaining ingredients.
  4. Salt and Pepper to taste
  5. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 min

That’s it! Kinda silly that people are terrified of making homemade sauce when you see how easy it is! I think the biggest mistake is too many ingredients. Over seasoning is a real thing folks + sometimes simple is best.

-The Romano + Neilan Family-

Patrick’s Eggplant Parm

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Photo: Blair, The Seasoned Mom

There are three foods I always request on my birthday: stuffed artichoke, eggplant Parmesan + rice krispy treats. This year my husband surprised me and made eggplant parm when I came home from work on my birthday (which recently passed beginning of January- shout out to fellow Capricorns!). I’m just as surprised as you are that Patrick doubles as a chef! Doctor by day, chef by night- who knew! BUT I will say- I was definitely leery when he said he was going to attempt eggplant parm- I don’t even order it in restaurants- simply because, I grew up in a Sicilian home + my mom’s is just the best. I’ve tried eggplant parm from “great” Italian restaurants and they have always been sub-par. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I LOVED the eggplant parm recipe Patrick found. I love Patrick but I’d never tell him something tasted amazing if it didn’t- I’m Italian aka I can’t lie about food. It is VERY different from the Romano (maiden name) eggplant parm I grew up on- but I truly love both. I will also share the Romano eggplant parm recipe with you guys soon- that one is more like an eggplant lasagna- cut an entirely different style than Patrick’s. 

From the Doctor + Dietitian: Eggplants are high in fiber; therefore, great for GI and cardiovascular health. This is because foods high in fiber have been shown to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and in turn, decreasing heart attacks and strokes. Eggplants are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, niacin, magnesium, copper, fiber, folic acid, potassium, manganese, thiamine, and phosphorous. Because eggplants are high in calcium and iron, they are considered great for bone health and preventing anemia.

Fun Fact: Did you know eggplants are technically considered a fruit?! They are related to tomatoes and some even consider eggplant a type of berry! Because of the low sugar/nutrient content, in our minds- it’s still a veggie!

Before we get to the recipe, Patrick followed the recipe [below] exactly; however, we will add some vegan friendly modifications. Feel free to modify amount of cheese/type of cheese. Lastly, you can use your favorite tomato sauce or sauce from a jar- Patrick used my family’s Red Sauce Recipe- which I highly recommend- it’s straight from my Italian ancestors and super simple! It will make this dish a million times better too. Of note, if you’re going to make your own red sauce- we recommend doing this before you get started on the eggplant recipe so it’s ready to go!

ingredients 

Eggplant:

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten [ok to modify to cashew milk]
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 cups whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 (1-pound) eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten [sub with flax egg – 1 tbsp ground flax and 3 tbsp water mixed]
  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar premium pasta sauce [we did not use this, see red sauce recipe]
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely grated fontina cheese
recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. To make eggplant, combine 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon water in a shallow dish. Combine panko and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a second shallow dish. Dip eggplant in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere and shaking off excess. Place eggplant 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden, turning once and rotating baking sheets after 15 minutes.
  3. To make filling, combine basil and next 6 ingredients (through egg).
  4. To assemble, spoon 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Sprinkle eggplant with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Top with about 3/4 cup pasta sauce; spread half of ricotta mixture over sauce, and top with a third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Repeat layers once, ending with about 1 cup pasta sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Remove foil; top with remaining third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts; cool 10 minutes.

Recipe: Cooking Light

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We hope you enjoy this delish Italian Delicacy!

-The Neilan Family-

Twix Brownies

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Photo: Life in the Lofthouse

Twix Brownies- because life is about moderation + sometimes, you have to treat yourself! My husband’s favorite candy is Twix- so that is how I first stumbled upon this dreamy recipe. It’s our second time making these and they get better and better somehow EVERY.TIME. This week I made it for a coworker’s birthday at work! Definitely a hit with the dietitians because it’s so yummy and what’s not to love! We cut them in pretty small pieces- so like I said, we do enjoy them in moderation. I would compare the size we had to about the length of your middle finger and the width of a quarter hahaha if that gives you a good picture into the portion size world of dietitians [sometimes we went back for seconds but when you start with a small piece- that’s ok!!!]

Recipe: Life in the Lofthouse

brownie layer
  1. 1 cup butter, softened [or 1/2 C applesauce- we used butter]
  2. 2 cups sugar [we used 2/3 C + 3 Tbsp of Truvia]
  3. 4 large eggs [or flax eggs- we used regular]
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  7. 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour [we used whole wheat]
shortbread layer
  1. 1 (10 oz.) box Lorna Doone’s shortbread cookies
  2. 6 ounces cream cheese, softened [can substitute with 1 C plain yogurt- we used cream cheese]
  3. 1/2 cup sugar [we used 3 1/2 Tbsp of truvia]
caramel layer
  1. 1 (11 oz.) bag caramel bits
  2. 2 Tablespoons milk [we used cashew]
chocolate layer
  1. 1 1/2 cups milk or dark chocolate chips
  2. 1 Tablespoon shortening [we used coconut oil]
recipe
  1. BROWNIES: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9×13-inch glass baking pan with non-stick spray. Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until just combined. Add salt, cocoa powder and flour gradually to wet mixture until combined. Don’t over mix. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan and spread out evenly. Bake 25 to 28 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  2. SHORTBREAD LAYER: Place shortbread cookies in a food processor and crush until fine crumbs. Place crumbs in a bowl and add cream cheese and sugar. Beat with a hand-mixer until combined. Press this mixture evenly over cooled brownies.
  3. CARAMEL LAYER: Place caramel bits and milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Pour over shortbread layer. Place in fridge to let cool completely.
  4. CHOCOLATE LAYER: Place chocolate chips and shortening [or coconut oil] in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments until melted. Pour over caramel layer. Place in fridge to let brownies set before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!!

-The Neilan Family-

Chickpea (Meatless) Meatballs

Hi everyone and happy Thursday! It has been a little crazy over here in the Neilan household, as I’m sure it’s been in your home too! Patrick is on a 7am-7pm/Mon-Fri schedule now. Which may sound terrible, but it’s actually pretty nice because he gets weekends off. Wahoooo Merry Christmas to us! Anyway, the holidays are upon us- and we love/welcome the chaos. We’ve got family coming into town soon and lots of cooking happening and gift wrapping to do BUT before we close out till after Christmas I wanted to share this Chickpea Ball recipe with you guys. I make spinach turkey meatballs often – this is the first meal I made for Patrick when we were dating (with pasta and pesto sauce) so it hits close to home! I will share the spinach turkey baked meatball/cashew pesto recipe with you all soon as well!  But back to the chickpeas- we don’t like to have meat every night of the week- so we swap chickpea balls over a salad bowl every other night. This way we include lots of plant-based meals too!

From the Dietitian: Chickpeas are great for digestion and satiety. They pack about 15g protein per cup- which makes it an awesome option when you’re trying to add some meatless nights into your weekly routine. Chickpeas are high in folate, magnesium, iron and phosphorus- wahoooo!!

From the Doctor: Studies have shown that 1.5 C of legumes a day helped reduce inflammatory markers and improved insulin resistance. Two awesome correlates in the fight against disease. Chickpeas are packed with soluble fiber as we discussed in the lentil soup recipe (https://doctormeetsdietitian.com/2017/12/13/coziest-lentil-soup-recipe/) – making it great for diabetics, in moderation, as it slows the absorption of sugar. This happens because soluble fiber increases the viscosity (aka thickness) of the intestinal contents after each meal consumed. Even if you are not diabetic- we all want out blood sugar managed well and our insulin levels normalized- trust me. Once your insulin and blood sugar are at of whack it creates an abundance of issues in the body- to put it very lightly. Just a glimpse- diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, top cause for blindness, the reason for 60% of lower body amputations, 70% of people with diabetes have nervous system damage, diabetes causes- digestive problems, erectile dysfunction and increases risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Moderation, healthy diet and a lifestyle of balance is the key way to avoid chronic disease. Now, on to the chickpea recipe!

ingredients 

  • 2 eggs or 2 flax eggs to keep chickpea balls vegan (2.5 tbsp ground flax)
  • 1/2 C breadcrumbs
  • 2 C Chickpeas
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves (or 1/2 Tbsp of garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram (optional)
  • small handful of basil leaves (optional)

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Skip this step if using canned chickpeas. If using dried chickpeas, soak for 4 hours. Boil until they’re splitting, about 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. Drain the chickpeas and pinch the skin off [I didn’t take the skin off all the chickpeas and it turned out great- takes wayyy too long! But if you have the time, go for it!]
  4. Blend chickpeas in a blender until broken down [I added a few drops of water]
  5. Make your flax seed “eggs”  [2 Tbsp Flax with 6 Tbsp of Water- mix and let sit for 10-15min]
  6. Mix chickpeas and flax seed eggs [or regular eggs]
  7. Mix in the remaining ingredients
  8. If the mixture is too sticky, add more breadcrumbs a little at a time. If too dry, add a little water or oil [coconut/olive whatever you prefer]
  9. Form the chickpea mixture into meatballs and place onto a greased or parchment-lined baking dish.
  10. Bake the chickpea meatballs for 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway through, They should be golden and crispy.

Recipe Credit: Karissa’s vegan kitchen (modifications made)

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Try “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning from Trader Joe’s- it is so so yummy. Sprinkled on avocado above!

Enjoy with pasta and pesto or over a bed of lettuce with all the veggies of your choice!

-The Neilan Family-

Pancakes + Banana Cinnamon Maple [Half Yogurt] Whipped Cream

I say pancakes are for Saturdays because that is always the day (and sometimes Sunday too) that I’m craving something fluffy + delicious aka pancakes or french toast. Likely, because I am a full time working dietitian- so that’s when I’ve got the time! This weekend we made some Kodiak Cakes with my mom’s whipped cream recipe [modified to half whipping cream and half yogurt]. If you haven’t had Kodiak Cakes – they’re awesome. They have different varieties but my favorite is the buttermilk “protein packed” flapjack mix. Made with 100% whole grains, 14g protein per serving, non GMO and no preservatives— SIGN US UP! We have mixed it up so many ways- but this weekend we added pecans and it was oh so yummy! You can find Kodiak Cakes at most grocery stores or on amazon. They even have muffin and cake mixes now too- that I use when I’m in a bind and don’t have a lot of time (we tried blueberry lemon muffins- so yum). On to the recipe for pecan pancakes with banana maple cinnamon [half yogurt] whipped cream 

For the Kodiak Cakes- Follow instructions on box and add fruit/nuts of your preference.Mom’s Original Whipped Cream Recipe [with modifications]-

  • 1 C Whipping Cream
  • 2 Tbsp of Sugar [we used 2 1/2 tsp Truvia]
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract [if you want to get crazy and make something SO yummy- try adding actual vanilla beans. we do this every so often with this recipe and it’s unreal]
  • 1/2 C Yogurt [greek, almond, coconut or regular will do!]

Throw this in a standing mixer for about 4 minutes on med/high and you will have whipped cream!

-Banana Maple Pecan Whipped Cream-

  • 1 tsp Truvia
  • 1 tsp Pure Maple Syrup [we used golden syrup- you can also use honey]
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Whole Banana
  • 1 C Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 C Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Mix in a standing mixer and add pecans on top!

Enjoy Friends! Please let us know if there’s an ingredient you have questions about or can’t find! The whipped cream recipe is so versatile- we hope you enjoy!!

-The Neilan Family-

Coziest Lentil Soup Recipe

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This recipe is straight from my mom- aka the greatest Italian chef of all time- without any modifications. Because well, sometimes…you cannot modify perfection. It has always been one of my favorite recipes of hers and it’s so simple. Now that I’m older and cooking for myself, I can totally see why she was so excited when I’d ask for Lentil Soup for dinner- it’s so easy!! Busy after work? Throw everything into a pot to boil and leave it. As Patrick would say, Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

From the Dietitian: Let’s just be frank- this soup is awesome for regularity. It’s got insoluble fiber – which helps prevent constipation and other digestive disorders (IBS and Diverticulosis). Lets talk about the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber- because a lot of people don’t know or forget! If you’re eating a meal- may want to revisit this page at a later time because we are going to get straight into poop talk. Yep – that’s right. Easiest way to say it. So soluble fiber (found in beans, peas, oats, barley, fruits and avocados) is sticky and soft- it acts almost like a gel, in a sense, so that things can slide around the GI tract more easily. The beautiful thing about soluble fiber is that it binds to substances like cholesterol and sugar- preventing or slowing down absorption in the blood- which is super cool and amazing if you ask me. Soluble fiber increases good bacteria in the gut; furthermore, improving immunity, anti-inflammatory effects and even improved mood per studies that have been done. Soluble fiber also is great for weight management -as we all know- because it helps you feel fuller longer…win win! Now for insoluble fiber– think roughage. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, fruits and veggies (mostly in the skin, stalks, and seeds). Insoluble fiber cannot dissolve in water; therefore, it cannot be broken down in the gut and cannot enter the bloodstream. Because of this, it adds bulk to the digestive system- preventing constipation. Which we all want/love.

From the Doctor: I work in internal medicine. In the future, the plan is to work in Pulmonary Critical Care, but for now it’s internal medicine; therefore, dealing with GI issues/disorders/diseases- is absolutely in my wheel house in the internal med world. You would be surprised how many issues stem from poor GI motility/function.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that over a nine-year period, consuming more dietary fiber lowered the risk of death from any cause. People who ate the most fiber (about 25 grams a day for women and 30 grams for men) were 22% less likely to die compared to those who consumed the least fiber (10 grams per day for women and 13 grams for men). The effect was even stronger when researchers looked at deaths from heart disease, infectious diseases, and respiratory diseases; people with high-fiber diets had as much as a 50% or greater reduction in risk.

Besides digestive health, fiber helps stabilize sugar. Like the wonderful dietitian mentioned a bit earlier, soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing down digestion and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Meaning, increasing fiber intake is wonderful for people with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.

Fiber and cholesterol. Just to mention once more, lentils help reduce blood cholesterol because lentils are high in soluble fiber.Canadian researchers examined 26 studies conducted between both the US and Canada that included a total of more than 1,000 people. Their findings showed that including a daily serving of legumes – beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas- was linked to a reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL aka bad cholesterol) by 5%.

One of the last things I want to touch on, is fiber and heart health. Several studies have linked consuming high fiber foods (like lentils) with decreasing you risk of heart disease. Lentils are a great source of magnesium and folate- both awesome for heart health too. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease, and magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients in the body. There has been a major link between low magnesium levels + heart disease folks…so eat your lentils!

ingredients 

  • 4 Carrots – chopped
  • 4 Stalks of Celery – chopped
  • 4 Cloves are Fresh Garlic – chopped
  • 2 Cups of Lentils
  • 1 Yellow Onion- chopped
  • 2 qt Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Thyme (optional)
  • Pinch of Cumin (optional)
  • Red Pepper (optional)
  • Locatelli Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Of Note: Occasionally, I have modified Mama Romano’s Recipe and added 2 Cups of Spinach or Kale to the recipe.

recipe

  1. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, lentils, cumin and olive oil to large pot -or dutch oven-, turn on medium heat. Saute so that the olive oil is coating all of the ingredients
  2. Empty Broth into pot (as mentioned above, add spinach/kale here if you would like to add greens)
  3. Add pinch of thyme and salt and pepper to taste
  4. Simmer for about 45 min. Every so often, stir soup and add water so that soup remains at the same level as when you started. Lentils should be tender. (I have had to keep soup on for up to an hour to wait for lentils to soften- by the end I had probably added 1 1/2 Cup water)!

We add red pepper and Parmesan cheese on top (Locatelli Romano Cheese- the absolute best and the only kind my family and I use).

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Now go cozy up with a Hallmark Christmas Movie, Soup and Relax!

-The Neilan Family-

The Magic of Spirulina

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Good morning everyone! So let me first just say- My husband and I are like big kids. You tell us we can have our yogurt blue WITH added health benefits and you’ve already got us sold! As we type, we are both sipping on our morning matcha concoction (under recipes) and having our yogurt parfait- both of which, contain none other than…SPIRULINA! Really excited to share some information with you guys about why we’re sneaking it in whenever and wherever we can. If you follow me on instagram, doctormeetsdietitian, you saw me post earlier this week on the Spirulina Bowl and you may have also seen my green pancakes that I make sometimes for Patrick and myself. We could just have our yogurt/pancakes/tea plain OR we could have it blue/green with some wonderful added health benefits. I pick BLUE (and green)! 

From the Dietitian: First of all what is Spirulina? Spirulina is a blue green algae that grows in both fresh and salt water. When you buy it, it comes in powder form. But boy is it loaded with nutrients! Fun fact- Because you can grow it in space, NASA uses it, so astronauts can reap the health benefits. Smart cookies that they are. Going back even further, the Aztecs used it back in the day too!

A tablespoon of Spirulina contains: 4 grams of quality protein (better than beans but not as complete as eggs/dairy), 11% of the RDA for Thiamine, 15% of the RDA for Riboflavin, 4% of the RDA for Niacin, 21% of the RDA for Copper, 11% of the RDA for Iron and wide variety of minerals including potassium and magnesium. Spirulina also contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. A lot of people will say “gram for gram” it’s one of the most nutritious foods naturally found on our little planet.

From the Doctor: While we do not believe in a majority of (fad) diets, an anti-inflammatory diet is one that, in our opinion, has the best benefits for health/longevity. Spirulina has both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. In our matcha post, we went over the benefits of antioxidants. Spirulina contains Phycocyanin. This is what, not only gives it it’s blue/green color, but it is also what fights free radicals in the body. Phycocyanin is a very powerful anti-inflammatory agent. By protecting against oxidative damage, you are in turn, contributing to the decreased risk of cancer and other diseases.

Spirulina & Cholesterol: A study completed showed that when patients with high cholesterol added 1 gram of Spirulina to their day it decreased their triglycerides by 16.3% and LDL by 10.1%.

Spirulina & Cancer: Studies have been done linking Spirulina to anti-cancer properties- more specifically oral cancer. The study looked at 85 people from India with precancerous lesions (OSMF) in their mouth. After adding 1 gram of Spirulina to their diet for a year, 45% had regression of lesions (compared to 7% in the control group). There was another study completed comparing Spirulina to the drug typically used to combat symptoms from these precancerous mouth lesions and including 1 gram of Spirulina led to greater improvement than the drug Pentoxyfilline.

Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3919363/

Spirulina & Blood Pressure: By consuming Spirulina, you are in turn, increasing your nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that helps the blood vessels relax and dilate. Further studies need to be completed; however, one study showed that higher intake of Spirulina daily (4-5 grams) can significantly lower BP.

Allergies & Spirulina: If you suffer from allergies, it can be pretty horrible. There has been suffice evidence showing that Spirulina is an acceptable alternative treatment for symptoms of allergic rhinitis. This is because Spirulina stops the release of histamine in the body. Histamine is what contributes to allergy symptoms. In a study where people consumed 2 grams of Spirulina a day, it dramatically decreased congestion, runny nose, itching, sneezing, etc.

Type 2 Diabetes & Spirulina: Animal studies have been completed comparing Spirulina to the popular diabetes drug, Metformin. More studies need to be conducted and currently the evidence is non conclusive. Therefore, DO NOT get off your diabetes medication and start taking Spirulina; however, adding it to your regular regimen (prescribed by your doctor) could be beneficial along with diet and exercise to possibly decrease insulin injection dependence. In the study, where patients were taking 2 grams of Spirulina a day, their Hba1c dropped by 1% – this is significant as studies show that a 1% decrease in Hba1c, can lower the risk of diabetes related death by 21%.

Links on DM and Spirulina:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12639401

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28617537; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2788188/

Back to the dietitian: So now that we got you all excited to use Spirulina. These are the kinds we use (Link Below). Typically we add the green to pancakes/tea and the blue to yogurt/smoothies/ice cream. You definitely do not have to buy both!

You can mix it up with chia seeds, almonds, berries, granola and all kinds of goodies and it is SO delicious and super fun for kids too. Moms are always on the prowl for an easy way to sneak in nutrients for kids- and in our opinion, this is a great way because it’s fun and colorful too.

A lot of people ask if you can taste it and in yogurt you really can’t (especially as a parfait). In the Morning Matcha Concoction and pancakes you can taste it a little bit more. It adds a delicious, light earthy flavor. If you are adding to a cup of yogurt – I would start with 1/4 tsp and increase to 1/2 tsp based on preference. Pancake recipe coming soon (perfecting it for you all)!

Green: https://www.amazon.com/Non-GMO-Spirulina-Powder-Sustainably-Non-Irradiated/dp/B01E67SEC8/ref=sr_1_8_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1511619651&sr=1-8&keywords=spirulina.

Blue:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00NT4IK5G/ref=mp_s_a_1_3_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1516412602&sr=8-3&keywords=blue+majik+e3live&dpPl=1&dpID=419OJ4W3TmL&ref=plSrch

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Enjoy Everyone! Have a wonderful weekend and feel free to send us a message with any questions you might have!

Mom’s (Not-So-Secret-Anymore) Cranberry Nut Mold

Well hi there & Happy Thanksgiving morning!! It is still super early and Knox (our pup) is passed out and Patrick just left for another day in the MICU. So before things get crazy at my parents house today, I wanted to share my favorite holiday treat! We make it for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I know a lot of people like the cranberry sauce from the can and no judgement here- but I am just not a fan.  Could be the bitter taste or the ridges from the can on the cranberry sauce when its poured out- who knows! So when I make this recipe- I make it as is. Sometimes you cannot mess with perfection; however, I did put some modifications in for you all if you want to avoid all the sugar. 

ingredients

  • 1 (12oz) Bag of Fresh Cranberries
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar (3/4 C Truvia Sugar Cane Blend)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • 1 (6oz) pkg. Raspberry Gelatin (key is raspberry flavor and you’d be surprised when it’s all finished, you’d never know it’s raspberry. It has a “lighter” taste than the cherry and strawberry so you taste more of the cranberry!)
  • 1 Cup Thinly Sliced Celery (Yup- there’s a veggie in there- and it adds incredible crunch to it)
  • 1 Cup Chopped Walnuts

I just want to add here that if you have a favorite fruit/nut you can add 1/2 C in! Apples, almonds, raisins, pineapples- sky is the limit!

recipe

  1. Rinse cranberries and remove stems (if any)
  2. Place berries in a large pot
  3. Add sugar and water and stir to blend. Bring to boil, then lower heat and cook 5 minutes until berries are bursting
  4. Remove pot from heat and stir in raspberry gelatin until gelatin dissolves
  5. Cool in refrigerator until mixture begins to thicken, then add celery and nuts
  6. Pour into mod or bundt pan and refrigerate until firm (4-5 hours or overnight)

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Family to Yours!

P.S. Remember to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full- you can always have leftovers and in my opinion they’re equally yummy!

Where All The Forgotten Bananas Go: Cinnamon Banana Bread

43b81d373132cd35baf511d944c58c9f--banana-holder-color-clubOops forgot about our bananas & now they’re entirely too ripe to eat – aka Banana Bread Time in the Neilan Household. So yummy and perfect for fall weather! But before we get into the recipe lets delve into some science. 

From the Dietitian: Come spend a day with us dietitians in the office – and you will hear LOTS about bananas. As most of you are likely aware, bananas are a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and antioxidants. But we have learned, through many discussions in the office, people are very particular about the kind of banana they prefer! I, myself, like a banana with some green on it and 0 spots.  But the point I’m getting to is THIS! There is actually some science behind it!

From the Doctor: Benefits of unripe bananas: Low sugar content. Good for people with diabetes or trying to watch their sugar intake. Unripe bananas also have more starch- so they will keep you fuller longer. They contain more probiotics (aka great for gut health).  Benefits of ripe bananas: There was a study done in China, that showed that the spots on bananas indicate (TNF) tumor necrosis factor and could act as an immunity agent, fighting against abnormal cells in the body. Ripe bananas are easier for the body to digest than unripe and also contain more antioxidants.

Bananas could help with anxiety and depression because they actually contain tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin! For someone without chronic disease- having a banana several times a week may reduce the risk of kidney disease by up to 50%. Bananas are also known to be good for cardiovascular and digestive health.

So, to sum it all up, no matter the banana you prefer- you’re getting all kinds of health benefits! Now for the recipe!

for the banana bread

  • 3 Very Ripe Bananas (we used 4 because I didn’t want to throw the last guy out)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 3/4 C Quick Oats
  • 3/4 C All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 C Chickpea Flour
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2/3 C Sugar (We used 1/4 C and 2 Tsp of Truvia)
  • 1/4 C Canola Oil (We used 1/4 C Apple Sauce)
  • 1/3 C Milk (We used cashew)
  • 1/2 C Chopped Walnuts

for the topping

  • 1/2 C Sugar (We used 3 1/2 Tbsp of Truvia)
  • 2 Tbsp of Whole Wheat All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Softened Butter
  • 1 Tsp of Cinnamon

the recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Prep 9 x 5 loaf pan with non-stick spray (We used olive oil spray or you can just use butter)
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, oats, sugar and salt
  4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, and mashed bananas (mix with your hands- I guess I’m a weirdo because I love this part!!)
  5. Then mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients (with hands or a spoon)
  6. Time for the topping mixture! In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter- mix with hands until it looks almost like wet sand
  7. Pour half of the banana bread mixture in your loaf pan- sprinkle half of the cinnamon mixture on top- then pour the rest of your batter in and sprinkle the other half of cinnamon mixture on top!
  8. Bake for 50-60 min

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Slice yourself a piece in the morning with some cashew or almond butter to add protein & make it a little bit more filling! Or, for a late-night snack, warm it up 5-10 seconds and have a scoop of vanilla halo top ice cream! 

A Not So Politically Correct Take on Appetite from a Registered Dietitian

OK everyone!!! Patrick is spending the night at the hospital – another 30 hour shift. SO I’ve got some time to share something with you all that I’m super excited about! 

Boy do I. Love. This. Book- “Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth. Mindful eating- my, how we forget this day and age what that actually means. As a clinical dietitian, you see the repercussions of poor diet around you 24/7. An unhealthy diet is the cause of 678,000 deaths per year- that’s ABOVE tobacco, alcohol abuse, and high blood pressure. I can’t cover diet all in one post but I am going to talk about a piece of the puzzle & the one that I am most passionate about- mindful eating. Because I talk a lot about meal timing in this blog, this post is not appropriate for diabetics (as a dietitian, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that).

So! I read this book back in college & it was completely game changing for me. The book Women, Food and God (don’t be turned off by the title for anyone who does not have a religious background- it does not delve far into religion by any means) focuses on how we ignore hunger cues for SO many different reasons. Whether it’s because it’s just plain old “time to eat” or “I am supposed to have six small meals a day” or “I promised my friend I’d meet at a bakery”- whatever it is. As human beings, lets be honest, we were meant to work for our food. That is how it always was before technology and all this fancy stuff! We did not have a restaurant on every corner or a vending machine outside our office begging us to get another snack. NOPE. We would go out into the world and hunt and fish and this would take TIME and ENERGY. But here we are. We feel the slightest inkling of hunger (or thirst) and we are on the prowl. We eat when we are bored, we eat for holidays, we eat because it’s “lunch time”, we eat to celebrate a birthday, to catch up with a friend, we eat mindlessly on the phone, we eat while we watch a movie, we eat in the car on the way to work. But are we even hungry? Trust me, I think the social aspect is wonderful. Traveling and trying new restaurants is our favorite past time. However Patrick and I will not eat if we are not hungry- under any circumstance. But that’s the only “diet” we follow & it works. It sounds easy- but it takes work! Is it strange for people at times? Yes it definitely is. It is not easy to not eat with a friend when you are not hungry- but I do it all the time. My friends know this and they know it well. Do not care how uncomfortable it makes someone, don’t care if they’re judging- because it doesn’t make sense. If you’re not hungry your body is saying- “I’ve got the energy we need in here- no worries”. A lot of the time it takes people time to regain hunger cues because if you are used to ignoring them aka eating more or less than what your body needs – your hunger cues may be out of whack but they do come back! It just takes time to relearn how to listen to your body. Starving yourself, only sends your hunger cues into constant FEED ME craziness- so we will cover this in another post because restricting is another topic, for another day, my friends.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest”.

“If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you’ve had enough, you end the obsession because obsession and awareness cannot coexist”.

“And if you worry that not finishing the food on your plate is a slap in the face of all the hungry people everywhere, you are not living in reality. The truth is that you either throw the food out or you throw it in, but either way it turns to waste. World hunger will not be solved by finishing the garlic mashed potatoes on your plate”.

helath

Sweet dreams & Happy Hunger Cues!