Friday, May 17, 2013

50 Ways to Love Your Vegetables

Adapted from an article written for Wellness Concepts specializing in Corporate Wellness

I realize that an article about 50 ways to leave your lover may be far more juicy and despite most statistics pointing to people with partners having greater longevity, vegetables can be juicy and promote longevity too! 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) State Indicator Report on Fruits andVegetables, 2009 states that only 27.4% of adults consume at least 3 servings of vegetables per day and only 14% of adults consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  Five servings of vegetables and fruits per day are considered the minimum recommended intake by many health organizations and professionals.   The CDC website has a Fruit & Vegetable Calculator which uses your age, gender and daily activity level to determine your optimal intake. 
The Basics
Organic or conventional?  Eating conventionally-grown vegetables is far better than not eating vegetables at all as the health benefits outweigh the risk of pesticide exposure.  If you are interested in minimizing your exposure, use the Environmental Working GroupShopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce to guide your choices. 

Dirty Dozen

(most contaminated)

Buy organic to decease exposure

Clean Fifteen

(least contaminated)




Cherry tomato




Hot peppers

Sweet corn





Sweet bell peppers


Kale/collard greens

Frozen sweet peas

Summer squash

Sweet potatoes
Fresh, frozen, canned or dried/dehydrated?  Fresh seasonal sources which are grown locally and eaten soon after they are harvested will generally provide the most nutrient density.  Frozen options are also good as they are often frozen shortly after harvesting.  Choose frozen varieties without any sauces.  Canned vegetables have been heat treated decreasing nutrients that are heat sensitive and are often preserved in a salty solution increasing their sodium content.  Rinse canned vegetables before consuming.  Dried/dehydrated vegetables are often expensive and more calorie dense.
Raw or cooked?  Cooking vegetables can decrease heat sensitive nutrients but it can also liberate other nutrients such as lycopene in tomatoes when combined with olive oil.  Some people experience raw vegetables to be more gas forming.  In general, eat a variety of raw and cooked sources but try to avoid overcooking.
Juice or whole?  The benefit of whole vegetables is that they contain fiber, whereas, the benefit of juicing whole vegetables is that it contains extreme nutrient density that allows one to consume more nutrients than they might otherwise eat.  Juicing can be a great option for nutrient density, detoxification plans or to help as a meal replacement for weight loss.  Consider doing both for their special benefits.
Use the following chart for inspiration and ideas on making vegetables pleasing to your palette to help you reach your optimal intake for promoting health and preventing disease.

50 Ways to Eat Your Vegetables

Sauté with stock

Add to a quesadilla

Add chopped broccoli to stuffing

Add to cooked grains

Serve raw with hummus

Make smooth tomato sauce by blending canned or fresh tomatoes, olive oil, parmesan, basil  & garlic with hand immersion blender or food processor

Skewer 1-1 ½ inch size vegetable pieces & grill; partially cook longer cooking vegetables before grilling

Combine chopped tomatoes, diced cucumbers, peppers, cilantro, lime juice & boiled shrimp for Mexican shrimp cocktail

Get creative with salsa by adding other fruits, veggies & seasonings

Change the salad greens for variety

Slice/chop, put on baking sheet & roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees

Shred carrot, onion & broccoli & add to cream cheese

Skewer vegetables, present as a bouquet, serve with dipping sauces

Add fresh or frozen vegetables to canned or homemade soup

Change the texture of salad ingredients (i.e. shredded)

Make veggie hash by shredding veggies, tossing with olive oil & herbs, bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes

Add cole-slaw or  broccoli-slaw to salad or toss with dressing for quick salad

Puree steamed cauliflower with stock or milk & herbs for mashed cauliflower or creamed cauliflower soup

Add chopped veggies to lasagna or baked pasta dishes

Sauté with garlic, herbs & seasonings

Shred vegetables, remove liquid, add bread crumbs & egg to make grilled patties

Use plain yogurt as base for crudité; add dollop of mustard, pesto or salsa for flavor

Add cauliflower pieces to macaroni & cheese

Create varied pestos by using different herbs or greens instead of basil

Add sprouts to cold wraps

Bake sweet potatoes & add to tomato sauce or meatloaf

Use hand-immersion blender, blend baked sweet potato with stock & spices for pureed soup

Make veggie pizzas with sauce, chopped veggies & pitas, English muffins or tortillas

Store salad fixings in appetizer tray to make for quick salad assembly

Add grilled veggies to warm wraps

Slice sweet or white potatoes, place on sprayed baking sheet, sprinkle with herbs & bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes

Add chopped vegetables to chicken or tuna salad

Use eggplant, cut lengthwise instead of noodles for lasagna

Puree cooked beets, broccoli, carrots cauliflower, red bell pepper, spinach or summer squash & add to other recipes

Make a veggie burrito with beans

Sautee mushrooms as topping for grilled chicken, rice or baked potato

Slice cucumbers lengthwise & add to sandwich

Shred sweet or white potatoes, toss with olive oil & spices, cook in skillet for hash browns

Add to casseroles

Add spinach to scrambled eggs or omelets

Keep cut raw veggies on hand

Use pesto or salsa as a sandwich condiment

Add leftover veggies to quiche


Use lettuce leaves as a wrap

Store clean & dry salad greens in salad spinner in fridge

Add to juice extractor with fruit

Top grilled polenta with sautéed veggies

Keep frozen vegetables on hand for quick addition to meal

Serve with cheese fondue


Monday, July 30, 2012

Eating Right for Exercise Gold

Written by Lori Reamer, RD for
It is no surprise that people who exercise regularly have a greater calorie budget for their eating pleasures.  Yet, athletes and exercisers, whether Olympic hopefuls or not, can enhance the quality of their workouts and their performance if they pay particular attention to quality, quantity and timing.  

In general, seek out minimally processed whole foods.  Highly processed food often contains undesirable ingredients and can wreak havoc with your blood sugar or blood pressure.  Manufacturers of sports beverages and foods design products to support the science behind what makes athletes tick, but often, these foods are also highly processed and expensive.  Exercise also increases your need for antioxidants which are most abundant in color-rich plant foods – yet another reason to stick with Mother Nature’s whole food options.  

Studies support that consuming a ratio of approximately four parts carbohydrate to one part protein within 45 minutes after finishing exercise, shifts your body from exercise induced stress mode to one of building and restoration.  People who consume this ratio show increased muscle mass and improved fat mobilization as compared to people who ate nothing or carbohydrates alone.   Don’t you love it when science tells you to eat? 
While exercise can help immensely with calorie balancing, it cannot wash away food sins. Athletes have arteries too. Additionally, it is wise to come to terms with how quickly you can consume calories and how long it takes to burn them.  Are you choosing muffins over muscles too frequently? 

When exercising for less than 90 minutes, people vary in whether they prefer to eat something in the one hour window prior to exercise. If you have eaten within three or four hours prior to exercise you may find your energy level and blood sugar are fine without additional food. If you ate more than four hours prior to exercise you may benefit from eating ~200-250 calories of a carbohydrate and protein containing snack. If you choose to eat, consume easy to digest foods. Most importantly, experiment and see which approach and which foods provide you with the greatest energy and comfort during your workout. 

When exercising for greater than 90 minutes, eating a carbohydrate and protein-based snack within one hour of exercise helps to preserve glycogen stores in your liver and muscle so that you can draw upon them later in your workout. Carbohydrate loading is a strategy for depleting and than repleting glycogen stores which serve as your body’s suitcase for additional fuel when other sources are depleted.  

The following suggestions provide you with ideas for balancing quality, quantity and timing: 

Before exercise:
·         ½ to 1 cup vegetable juice
·         1 cup fresh fruit  or ¼ cup dried fruit with or without nonfat or low fat yogurt
·         ½ cup cold whole grain cereal, 1 tablespoon dried fruit and ½ cup nonfat or low fat milk or yogurt
·         ½ whole wheat bagel, 1 tablespoon low fat cream cheese and 1 ounce smoked salmon
·         ½ cup cooked whole grain hot cereal, ½ cup milk with cinnamon
After exercise (within 30-45 minutes):
·         1 whole wheat English muffin with 1 hardboiled egg
·         1 cup nonfat or low fat yogurt with all fruit preserves, dried fruit or fresh fruit
·         ½ cup trail mix with whole grain cereal, nuts and dried fruit
·         1 ½ cups cold whole grain cereal or ¾ cooked whole grain cereal with ¾ cup nonfat or low fat milk
·         1 cup whole grain or pasta, 1 ounce cooked protein with ½ cup marinara sauce
·         2 slices whole grain bread, 1 tablespoon natural nut butter and 1 tablespoon all fruit preserves
·         3 ounce whole grain bagel with 2 ounces reduced-fat cheese 

As an athlete trains and enhances their competitive edge, total calories, quality of calories and timing of those calories become increasingly more important.   Consider experimenting with these variables during training and figuring out what works best to turn your gold medal foods into gold medal results.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Overwhelmed & Overeating?

Written by Lori Reamer, RD for

How many food decisions would you guess that you make during one day?  Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating and an expert on consumer behavior and nutritional science, conducted a study that revealed people make over 200 food decisions per day.  Should I eat?  What should I eat?  How much should I eat?  Do I like this?  Would I buy this again?  You get the idea.  

As your day progresses, the need to make food decisions often collides with a change in mood and an increase in emotional vulnerabilities – things such as tired, cranky, bored or frustrated.   The lack of planning coupled with mood and emotional tides does not lend itself to making productive food decisions because your emotions or moods often impact your choices and result in you eating more with less discernment.  

One of the reasons that programs such as liquid protein diets are so successful for people in the short run is that the total number of decisions goes from over 200 per day to two – what time should I eat a 300- calorie shake and what flavor do I want?  Done.  You don’t need to be on a liquid protein diet to be successful, but rather to be successful, you need a plan. 

When the plan gets boring, tweak the plan instead of throwing your hands up in despair and calling it quits.   Change one or two things, such as the condiment you put on your sandwich or the dressing you use on your salad.  

While food spontaneity and making decisions on the fly can be fun, you want to consider this scenario to be the exception rather than the rule.  Too many decisions on the fly often leads to food chaos and ordering take-out!  Do yourself a favor.  Invest in your nutritional 401K and create a plan you can live with that fosters quality of life in your golden years.

The Food That Fits

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Taking Your Food on Vacation

Written by Lori Reamer, RD for

If the title of this article peaked your interest enough to read further, you might be thinking this is an article about amazing food destinations.  But to be clear, this is an article about taking your food on vacation. 

Globetrotters are people who travel frequently and often embrace the culture and cuisine of their destinations. New and exciting destinations can serve as a source of revival and inspiration for bringing flavor into your life and into your food.  The signs and signals that alert you that you might be in need of a vacation can often mirror how you are feeling about your food.  Are you tired and uninspired?  Does your food feel boring and unimaginative?  Taking your food on a vacation can be a great way to turn an underwhelming attempt at dinner into a meal of remembrance.  

Please join me as I show you how to take a popular summer favorite, salads, for a spin using this concept.  

Asia...shred cabbage and top with Mandarin oranges, bean sprouts, sauteed Shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, grilled chicken or tofu, garlic and scallions.  Sprinkle with baked ramen noodles (example:  Dr. McDougall's brand) for some crunch and drizzle with a homemade dressing using ginger, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil or opt for a healthy ingredient bottled version such as Annie's Organic Shiitake & Sesame Vinaigrette.  Serve with brown rice noodles dressed in a splash of sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds. a fresh romaine and iceberg mix with chopped dates, cucumber, tomato, chick peas, feta cheese, black olives and grilled lamb or chicken.  Drizzle with a red wine vinaigrette or a tzatsiki sauce using yogurt and cucumbers.  Serve with toasted pita points. 

Mexico...chop iceberg lettuce and adorn with roasted corn, black beans, salsa, shredded Monterey jack cheese, a dollop of low-fat sour cream, chunky salsa, seasoned ground beef or chicken.  Drizzle with ranch dressing and taco sauce.  Sprinkle with crumbled tortilla chips or dip whole tortilla chips into the salad, scoop and enjoy as you would a dip.  

Trip advisor for taking your salads on vacation:
  • Build salads that embrace flavor destinations you normally enjoy
  • Try chopping the ingredients of any salad and serving inside a wrap or pita.  Limit dressing to minimize sogginess and save calories
  • Change and mix your greens from day-to-day as well as within a salad
  • Chopped fresh fruit adds a refreshing crunch; for example, a chopped apple adds 4 grams of fiber and a refreshing sensory experience
  • Include a starch in the salad or on the side to help increase your sense of satiety and fullness; choose whole grain when available
  • Use a small amount of a sharp cheese for a big flavor contribution
  • Add different destination style spices to basic oil and vinegar to create regional flavor profiles
As with travel, the numbers of possible food destinations are endless.  Be adventurous and take your appetizers, entrees and desserts on a global food spin too!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Powder Your Nose

A few years ago I was interviewed by a reporter who was doing an article on snacking.  I felt challenged to make snacking an interesting and attention grabbing topic so I looked to what people in other parts of the globe practice.  The United Kingdom partakes in afternoon tea.  Italy is well known for its afternoon siesta.  Most cultures have an afternoon ritual that serves to restore and revive people's spirit and energy. 
While food is often a component of this ritual, most people benefit from a practice at this time of day that grounds and recalibrates their blood sugar, mood and energy level all of which serve to enhance the ability to make productive food decisions in the later part of the day.  For some it may be a nap, for others it may be a walk, but for many it includes a bite to eat. 

Mid-to-late afternoon begins the witching hour for many and it is unrealistic to expect people to wake up at six in the morning and to be productive, calm and balanced individuals without restoring themselves in the second half of the day. 

For people who do not consistently snack, packing an emergency snack is like a woman who carries a scarf or shawl in her purse.  You never know when you dinner might be delayed or when the restaurant might be too cold.  Arming yourself with both will serve to make you more comfortable. 

Tend to your stomach and powder your nose for a restored healthy glow that will go farther than powder or lipstick will alone!