Yes, Keep Eating Fruit

Yes, Keep Eating Fruit (@kellytoupsrd)

Fruit is bad because it has so much sugar, right?

Aren’t bananas fattening?

Shouldn’t you cut back on fruit if you’re trying to lose weight?

I get questions like this all the time. No seriously, I do. While it’s upsetting to think of how the media and food faddists have led well-meaning dieters astray, it’s actually pretty liberating when friends and clients realize just how easy good nutrition is. More fruits and veggies, less junk food. It’s that simple!

Think about it logically. America doesn’t have an obesity problem from eating too much fruit. It’s our ever-increasing portion sizes, penchant for sugary beverages and endless snacking that did us in.

Yes, fruit has sugar. But it also has loads of vitamins, minerals, water, and most importantly, fiber. The fiber in the fruit will slow its release into your bloodstream, so that you don’t get the spike and crash associated with other sugary foods (such as soda or candy).

However, do not confuse fruit with fruit juice. Juice lacks the fiber and some of the micronutrients of the whole fruit. While a cup of fresh fruit is a healthy, low-calorie snack, do not be fooled into thinking that juice is a low calorie or no calorie beverage. Many juices pack just as much sugar and calories per cup as soda. And without the fiber (and additional water in whole fruits) to trigger fullness cues in your stomach, it is much easier to overindulge in fruit juice than fruit. Additionally, the amount of juice you drink has a direct relationship with diabetes risk, but the amount of fruit you eat actually decreases the risk of diabetes.

Next time you find yourself unsure of what to eat, remember the sweet truth and fill up with fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.

– Kelly

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Seasons 52: Diet-Friendly Fine Dining

Seasons 52

Grilled Alaska Wild Copper River Salmon with summer corn risotto, sugar snap peas, and toybox tomatoes

Imagine enjoying an Oak-grilled rack of lamb with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and a summer vegetable ratatouille, all for the same amount of calories as a medium Strawberry Surf Rider Smoothie from Jamba Juice. At Seasons 52, that’s precisely what you’ll get.

Nestled into a corner at Houston’s vibrant City Centre, this new restaurant redefines healthy dining. The seasonally influenced menu inspires the restaurant’s name. Entrees change about four times a year, and vegetable sides change weekly. However, the most impressive part of the menu is that every item is 475 calories or less.

Seasons 52

Honey & Herb Roasted Chicken, spring vegetables, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, roasted chicken jus

If you’re picturing cardboard diet food and rubbery tofu, think again. Instead, the healthy balance at Seasons 52 is achieved by shunning the embarrassingly large portions that have come to be standard and letting fresh, seasonal vegetables do the talking. These meals are hearty, satisfying, and downright delicious.

The whole roasted Branzino, a European seabass, is standout summer special. This beautifully presented dish has a delicate texture and a sinfully savory flavor. Another memorable dish was the honey & herb roasted chicken. Chefs could have taken the easy way out by serving a dry slab of boneless, skinless chicken breast atop an uninspired salad. Instead, this chicken is moist, rich, and downright flavorful, and served with a tantalizing array of seasonal vegetables. Additionally, while the trend of desserts in shot glasses feels exhausted at other establishments, at Seasons 52, it somehow feels special, and fits right in to the perfectly-portioned atmosphere.

Seasons 52

 

Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon, cremini mushrooms, steamed leaf spinach, mashed potatoes, red wine sauce

Seasons 52 has over 30 locations across the country including Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Georgia, and Phoenix, Arizona. It first arrived in Houston at Westheimer, and it’s popularity spurred this second location at the City Centre shortly after.

While the classy, dimly lit interior lacks in personality (there is not a chalkboard, Edison lightbulb, or tattooed waiter to be found), the understated elegance is the perfect setting for a fine dining establishment. Unlike Ruggle’s on the Green, another popular City Centre eatery that emphasizes seasonality, the atmosphere at Seasons 52 is much more upscale and carries a noticeably higher price point.

That being said, you get what you pay for. And at Seasons 52, that means delicious, quality meals that leave you feeling nourished, rather than nauseous.

– Kelly

The Truth About Butter

butter

Image via BOJ

Leave it to science journalists to convince the public that butter and bacon are heart healthy foods. From the Wall Street Journal’s, Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease, to Mark Bittman’s Butter is Back in the New York Times, several articles have been quick to sing the praises of artery-clogging saturated fat.

Their ammunition is a recent meta-analysis in the March issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. This study is a review of previous studies that compares heart disease rates to fat intake. The authors found that when saturated fats are replaced with refined carbohydrates and added sugars, heart disease risk increases despite the low level of saturated fat. What this study failed to report is that when saturated fat is replaced with monounsaturated fat in the form of olive oil, nuts, or avocados, heart disease risk actually decreases.

Nowhere did the authors suggest that saturated fats are beneficial for health. So while butter may be dubbed the lesser of two evils (when compared to added sugars), the goal of healthful eating should be to find foods that are proven to actually nourish you and prevent disease. The gold standard of nutrition should not be to pick foods simply because they are “not as bad as” others. Additionally, the best way to assess nutrition and health is to look at the overall diet, rather than one nutrient at a time.

Was eating less butter and bacon the downfall of American health and nutrition? Definitely not. The real culprit, as the study points out, is the prevalence of sugar-laden processed foods. If you want to eat for health, choose a dietary pattern with decades of research behind it, such as the Mediterranean diet, that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, legumes, and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil.

For more on the saturated fat debate, see these articles:

For some of my favorite heart-healthy recipes, see here:

Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries and Marcona Almonds

– Kelly

Beet Hummus

Healthy Beet Hummus

If this magenta-colored party dip can’t transform the beet haters out there, I don’t know what will.

Admittedly, beets are not my favorite food. I don’t dislike them, they are just kind of… meh. However, when I spotted this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to give it a try. Hot pink and vegetable-rich? My two favorite things!

I started with a recipe from A Cozy Kitchen, but I cut back the oil and made some other tweaks to make it Dietitian-approved. This dip is great for veggies and toasted pita, but would also work well spread inside sandwiches or wraps.

Healthy Beet Hummus

Beet Hummus

(Recipe adapted from A Cozy Kitchen)

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 large beet (rinsed, and greens removed)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tahini paste
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fill a small baking dish (I used a loaf pan) with a shallow layer of water (about 1/3 cup water, or about ½ inch layer across the bottom of the dish).
  3. Place the beet in the baking dish, cover the dish with foil, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, until the beet is tender when poked with a fork.
  4. Allow the beet to cool, then slice off the tops of the beet, peel it and chop it.
  5. Add the chopped beet, garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini paste, lemon juice, lemon zest, ground cumin, ground coriander, and olive oil to a powerful blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. (I actually used an immersion blender, but a food processor or Vitamix would be ideal.)
  6. Taste, and adjust spices as desired.

Healthy Beet Hummus

Nutrition (per 2 Tbsp serving): 54 calories, 3g fat (0g saturated), 5g carbs (1.5g fiber, 0.5g sugar), 1.5g protein, 78mg sodium

– Kelly

Guilty Pleasures: An RD’s favorite packaged foods

For the most part, I pride myself on eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole foods, favoring ingredients that are local and organic. However, there are times when convenience takes over and I find myself at the mercy of processed foods. I try to look for packages that have some of the qualities I prioritize, but more often than not, I just end up following my taste buds. Below are my picks for my favorite packaged foods…

Guilty Pleasures: An RD's favorite packaged foods

Backcountry Bundle Trail Mix (Whole Foods Market): This trail mix is a delicious blend of almonds, pistachios, raisins, dried cranberries, and sour cherries. While it would probably be much less expensive to buy the ingredients from the bulk section and make my own, this delightful mix has absolutely everything I need in the perfect proportions. I like to keep a package in my desk drawer at work for when the afternoon slump hits. It also makes a great travel snack.

Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola (Trader Joe’s): I rarely ever go to Trader Joe’s, but this salad dressing is worth the trip alone. The ingredients certainly don’t have the organic, local, or minimalistic qualities that I typically look for in foods, but I absolutely love the sweet, creamy taste, and I can’t believe that it only has 45 calories per two tablespoon serving. In my book, anything that gets me to eat more vegetables is money well spent. Additionally, the presence of Gorgonzola in the dressing makes cheese, while still welcome, an unnecessary addition to the salad.

Butternut Squash Ravioli Lean Cuisine: Frozen entrees are a last resort, and I try not to rely too heavily on them. Nevertheless, it’s good to keep one in the back of the freezer. While this dish isn’t from one of the organic or natural brands, I feel better knowing that it is a vegetarian entree, and doesn’t feature too many industrialized animal products. I am also constantly surprised at my foodie self for genuinely enjoying this vegetable rich supper.

Chocolate Peppermint Stick Luna Bar: This is my pre-workout snack before my morning gym sessions. I also love to travel with these. While protein bars aren’t very natural or food-like, they can be a reliable source of nutrients when balanced, vegetable rich meals are out of the question.

Do you ever rely on packaged foods? Which ones are your favorite?

– Kelly

16 Healthy Halloween Snacks From Around The Web

Happy October, everyone!

Just because Halloween is one of the most diet-busting holidays on the calendar, doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for nutrition. So I scoured the web for the best healthy Halloween snacks, including fruit and veggie platters, as well as heartier fare. The snacks pictured below keep the Halloween spirit alive, without sacrificing nutrition. Enjoy!

witchbrooms

1) Witch brooms made from pretzels & string cheese, Image via Concinada con Catman

hallofruit

2) Banana ghosts and clementine pumpkins. I love this! Image via Pinterest, original source unknown

allrecipesappleteeth

3) Apple teeth with slivered almonds, via Allrecipes.com

vegskel

4) Veggie skeleton, image via feeding four little monkeys

spookyyogurt

5) Ghost inspired fruit & yogurt, image via Lisa Storms

smoothie

6) Jack-O-Lantern Smoothie, image via See Vanessa Craft. Note- for a healthy orange smoothie recipe, I recommend this carrot-apple-banana smoothie or this peach pie oatmeal smoothie.

carrothummus1

7) Hummus with carrot fingers. Image via Pinterest, original source unknown.

hummuscarrot2

8) Hummus with carrot & parsley pumpkins. Image via Parents.com

spider deviled eggs

9) Deviled eggs with olive spiders, image via Sunset

pumpkinegg

10) Pumpkin deviled eggs, image via Foodista

mummydip

11) Mummy dip with green veggies, image via hostess with the mostess

plumspider

12) Plum + grape spider, image via Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons

pumpkindip

13) Adorable veggie platter presentation! Image via Pinterest, original source unknown

cck

14) Fruity Jack-O-Lanterns, image via Chocolate Covered Katie

easy

15) Easy Jack-O-Lantern Oranges, image via Under Construction blog

fruitcup

16) Fruit cup Jack-O-Lanterns, image via Pimp My Dinner

For more Halloween food inspiration (yes- there’s more!), see my Pinterest board. Wondering what dips to serve with fruit and veggie platters? See my picks for healthy dips here.

Happy Halloween!

– Kelly

10 Best Instagram Accounts to Inspire Healthy Living (Part II)

I love scrolling through inspiring, healthy images on my instagram feed! When I first got hooked on instagram as a tool for healthy inspiration, I blogged about my 10 favorite accounts (check it out here). Since then, I have discovered several more beautiful accounts worth mentioning. So without further ado, here are 10 more of the best instagram accounts to inspire healthy living.

caitsplate

@caitsplate: This nutrition grad student uploads pictures of her meals. All healthy, all beautifully photographed. I am impressed that a grad student is able to incorporate so much variety into her diet!

alaska

@alaskafromscratch: Lovely pictures of the great outdoors! Makes me want to get away from my desk and explore.

cannell

@cannellevanille: This account has the perfect mix of food and outdoorsy nature shots. The Pacific Northwest is definitely an inspiring region.

simplehealthy

@simplehealthy: I love this account because of the artful photographs and creative, healthy meals.

gkstories

@gkstories: This blogger/author has INCREDIBLE photographs of food and food production.

luisegreen

@luisegreenkitchenstories: Same blog as above, also with gorgeous food and nature shots. Bonus points for the emphasis on nutrition!

naturalhealthyme

@natural_healthy_me: Plant based meals from (another) nutrition student. I’m a sucker for the playful staging and soft lighting.

shiramcd

@shiramcd: Colorful shots of healthy food. Always a treat to scroll through this one!

siobhano

@siobhano_: I love the healthy meals depicted by this plant-based food blogger!

irinahp

@irinahp: Food, flowers, and other inspiring images. I love the cheery colors that Irina captures!

And there you have it. If you haven’t seen my original post about the 10 best instagram accounts to inspire healthy living, check it out here. Also, now that you have a feel for the images that inspire me, feel free to check out my account (@kellytoupsrd). Who are your favorite inspiring instagrammers?

– Kelly

True Food Kitchen: This RD approves!

This summer I spent a week in Phoenix, Arizona with my family. Not only was I able to read, swim, and spend some much-needed quality time with my family, but I was also able to finally eat at True Food Kitchen!

True Food Kitchen

^^The airy, trendy atmosphere was definitely a seller. Image via Fox Restaurant Concepts.

True Food Kitchen serves up “globally inspired cuisine” at its 6 different locations (all in the Southwestern United States). The basis of the menu is Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet, but don’t let that scare you off. From Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Fresh Mozzerella, Organic Tomatoes, and Zucchini to Grass Fed Steak Street Tacos with Avocado, Cojita Cheese, Tomotillo Salsa, Sour Cream and Anasazi Beans, these menu items are nothing short of spectacular.

True Food Kitchen

^^ Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese, Basil, Cashews, and Olive Oil. Quite possibly my very favorite item on the menu!

Restaurants are usually a minefield of hidden fat and calories, devoid of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables. While True Food Kitchen does not post nutrition information (and some dishes do seem to be calorically dense), there is no doubt that the menu items available are extremely nutrient rich. I also love that vegetables are considered to be the main event, rather than an afterthought.

True Food Kitchen

^^ Tuscan Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, Breadcrumbs, and Grilled Steelhead Salmon

Over the course of my trip, I went to True Food Kitchen 3 different times, and let me just say that 3 times was not nearly enough! Between my family and I, I got to sample:

  • Quinoa Johnny Cakes with Blueberries, Greek Yogurt, and Maple Syrup
  • Street Tacos with Grass Fed Steak
  • Tuscan Kale Salad with Grilled Steelhead Salmon
  • Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Fresh Mozzerella, Organic Tomatoes, and Zucchini
  • Red Chili Shrimp with Sesame Noodles
  • Heirloom Tomato & Watermelon Salad
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Nectarine and Blueberry Tart with Greek Yogurt Ice Cream

YUM!

cookbook

Don’t live in the Southwestern United States? No problem! Lately I have been getting my True Food fix at home, courtesy of the True Food Cookbook (pictured above). This cookbook is filled with seasonal recipes from the restaurant, as well as the most gorgeous photography I have ever seen.

photo-17

^^ My rendition of the Chicken and Farro salad, via Instagram

Have you ever been to True Food Kitchen? Do you know of similar restaurants on the east coast? Do tell!

– Kelly