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

Advertisements

Not Your Average Vegetable Platter

Looking for a way to entice your guests (or yourself) to eat more vegetables? Here is a round-up of the most beautiful fruit and vegetable platters from around the web. And if you’re looking for healthy dips to compliment your fruit and veggie trays, check here.

Not Your Average Vegetable Platter

Arrange veggies and dips in various glassware. Image via Cocoa and Fig

Not Your Average Vegetable Platter

Serve dip in a hollowed-out head of lettuce. Click here for step-by-step instructions. Image via Eddie Ross

Not Your Average Vegetable Platter

Or try bell peppers! Image via Pinterest (original source unknown)

Not Your Average Vegetable Platter

Portion individual servings of vibrant veggies and hummus into stemware. Image via Pinterest (original source unknown)

Not Your Average Vegetable Platter

If you don’t have stemware, drinking glasses also work. Image via Add a Pinch

Not Your Average Fruit Tray

This concept also works for fruit. Image via Hostess with the Mostess

Not Your Average Vegetable Platter

Individual glasses of salad are a great way to offer guests tastes of produce. Image via My Baking Addiction

Not Your Average Vegetable Platter

“Salad on a Stick” is a kid-friendly take on this idea. Image via Sweet Potato Chronicles

Not Your Average Vegetable Platter

Bouquets of artichokes, ornamental kale, and brussels sprouts are a great way to dress up a fruit and vegetable display. Image via Project Wedding

Not Your Average Fruit Tray

Tiered platters work great to display individual cups of mixed fruit (or vegetables). Image via Pinterest (original source unknown)

– 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

Lentil Love

DSC01592

This post has been a long time coming. I seem to find myself talking about lentils more and more these days. In fact, I even did an in-depth commodity report on lentils for one of my gastronomy courses. Lentils are my favorite plant based protein source, not just because they are cheap and shelf stable, but because they are so gosh darn versatile! What else makes lentils so special?

  • Unlike other dried legumes, dried lentils DO NOT require an overnight soak. Simply bring lentils and water to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Lentils have tons of protein! According to the USDA food and nutrient database, 1/2 cup of cooked lentils has 9g of protein and 115 calories. Compare that to 7.5g of protein and 114 calories for black beans, 7.5g of protein and 112 calories for red kidney beans, and 8.5g of protein and 95 calories for edamame (all for 1/2 cup cooked).

When I catch myself talking about lentils, I am often surprised at how few people I meet actually have experience cooking with them. People often ask me for lentil recipes, so below, I compiled of a list of my 3 favorites (all healthy, of course!). If you have visited me for an extended period of time, chances are, I have made at least one of these recipes for you. Note that I always buy green lentils, but I hope to experiment with red and black one day soon!

Simple Stuffed Sweet Potato with Lentils

1. Lentil Stuffed Sweet Potato: I created this recipe on a day that my cupboards were particularly bare, and it has since become one of my favorite meals. See here for the recipe.

photo-17

2. Lentil Chili: This recipe from Whole Foods Market is incredibly easy and versatile! I always add a can (or 2 ears) of corn for a little bit of sweetness. My finishing touch is a dollop of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt.

sloppy joe

3. Lentil Sloppy Joes: Image and Recipe from Edible Perspective. This vegan recipe from the Edible Perspective is so perfect, that I follow it exactly as it’s written every time. No additions or substitutions necessary. And did I mention that it’s made completely in the slow cooker? Too easy!

Have you caught lentil fever yet? What are some of your favorite lentil recipes?

– Kelly

P.S. I’m not the only one that’s gaga for lentils. Check out this NPR article to learn more about my favorite plant based protein.

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

Ask the Dietitian: Are snacks healthy?

Snacks can be some of our greatest allies, but they can also be the source of our undoing. My rule for snacking is as follows:

Snacking is healthy, so long as you don’t eat “snack foods”.

We all know that chips, candy, and sodas are unhealthy choices, but my principle also applies to “healthy” diet snack products. While a 100 calorie pack of cookies may only do 100 calories worth of damage, there is absolutely nothing nourishing or healthy inside of that package.

09york100caloriewafer

During my early foray into “healthy eating” (and before my nutrition education took off) you would find my dorm room well stocked with 100 calorie packs of peppermint patty bars. (Side note- an actual Peppermint Patty only has 70 calories. Thus is the twisted logic of the food industry). I used to jokingly refer to these snacks as “700 calorie packs”, because you had to use every bit of willpower not to devour the entire tasty box. But I digress…

Snack foods on the market today are pure junk. Desserts in disguise. Salty, fatty treats carefully engineered to keep you coming back for more. A few foods warrant careful consideration, such as Greek yogurt and granola, but one must remember that even these “health foods” are littered with excess sugar. So what are you to snack on if not “snack foods”? Nature’s original snack foods- fruits and vegetables!

Healthy snacks

For more healthy snack ideas, see this post

I know, I know. It gets tiring hearing the same old song and dance about nature’s bounty. But come on… you can’t be that sick of them. As a nation, we hardly even eat any! Fresh, in season fruits are so delicious, that they hardly need any accompaniment. However, vegetables can be a tougher sell. Pair them with homemade hummus or 100% nut butter to boost the nutrition content, and add that fatty mouthfeel that we all crave. Or, if you’re a weirdo like me, oven roast some veggies and call that a snack. There is hardly a salty craving that a warm, crispy, oven roasted Brussels sprout can’t cure. At least in my opinion.

Occasionally (0kay, pretty frequently), I will relent, and a few Chocolate Peppermint Stick Luna Bars or organic Greek yogurt cups will make their way into my grocery cart. But I make a solid effort to enjoy my Luna Bars how anything called “Chocolate Peppermint Stick” should be enjoyed: with an ice cold glass of milk (fat free and organic, nonetheless) and on a dessert plate. Not to mention, a Luna Bar is hardly a Hostess Cupcake. But the principle remains.

The main problem I have with snacking is that it never ends. As Marion Nestle so accurately explains, “it is now socially acceptable to eat more food, more often, in more places…These are recent changes… just since the 1980’s—exactly in parallel with rising rates of obesity” (Nestle, 2006, p. 13). Snacking can indeed be healthy, so long as you pick something that nourishes you, rather than the processed garbage sold everywhere. But let’s bring back an old adage… don’t spoil your dinner! 🙂

– Kelly

10 Best instagram accounts to inspire healthy living

I’m not hugely into social media. In fact, I’ve never even had a facebook page (gasp!). But if there’s one thing I do love, its getting inspired by beautiful images. That’s why I love instagram (and that’s also why I have over 10,000 pins on Pinterest). #guilty

There are plenty of nutrition, health, and fitness accounts on instagram. But I’m not looking for images that promote fad diets, extreme exercise, or anything heavily processed. What I look for in an instagram account are beautiful images of farm-fresh produce, great scenery and photography, and inspiring quotes that remind me why I love my body and why I want to treat it with care. Confession: I also love design and lifestyle accounts. It’s good to not think about food all the time!

So here it goes… The 10 best instagram accounts to inspire healthy living:

LULULEMON

@lululemon Staying fit has never looked so fun! Only lululemon could make sweat look fashionable. Now, if only I could afford the gear…

HANNADALE

@hannadale The beautiful, balanced meals and the gorgeous European outdoor shots make me want to go on a hike, and take homemade, organic granola with me.

GREATIST

@greatist Healthy living at it’s greatest. These enticing images will inspire you to get fit and get moving.

PASSPORTSANDPANCAKES

@passportsandpancakes Gorgeous photography of whole, unprocessed foods, as well as other food and travel shots. Megan’s photos will inspire you to get into the kitchen and prepare something from scratch.

UNSQGREENMARKET

@unsqgreenmarket New York City. Farmers Markets. Could there be a sweeter combination?

YOGAINSPIRATION

@yogainspiration While I don’t practice yoga on a regular basis, this daily dose of yoga inspiration definitely makes me want to up my game.

AMYSTONE

@amy_stone It’s not a traditional pick for a healthy living blog, but I can’t help but be inspired by the gorgeous pics of life’s simple pleasures! While ice cream gets photographed a bit more frequently than I would like, what I really can’t stop drooling over are the pictures of fresh berries, ocean waves, and colorful hydrangeas.

YOGABEYOND

@yogabeyond Great photos of people practicing yoga in scenic locations. I only wish the logo wasn’t there!

CHOBANI

@chobani I’m a proponent of choosing organic and pasture raised dairy products, and unfortunately, Chobani doesn’t fit the bill. But nonetheless, their instagram account is awesome, filled with lovely pictures of colorful parfaits and other nutritious creations.

BOUNTYHUNTERVAN

@bountyhuntervan This account is loaded with beautiful images of farm-fresh produce. Melissa can stimulate a vegetable craving in even the pickiest of eaters.

As you can see, these certainly aren’t the usual nutrition instagram suggestions. But these are the kinds of images that inspire me to live healthier, and I hope that they inspire you too. Now that you have a taste of my style, don’t forget to follow me on instagram as well! @kellytoupsrd

Who are your favorite inspiring instagram users?

– Kelly

Why nutrition?

Kelly's Food & Nutrition picks

One question that I often get asked is about how I got interested in my field. Why nutrition?

Growing up, I always enjoyed reading the “health” sections of newspapers and magazines. I loved the idea that I could take control of my health by eating a nutritious, balanced diet.

When choosing a major for college, I wanted to choose a degree that would provide me with useful knowledge, no matter where my career might take me. Regardless of where I worked (or even if I became a stay-at-home-mom), I knew that the information I learned about how to eat healthy would be beneficial for the rest of my life. It’s just good life knowledge. And if I could make a career out of it… even better!

I also knew that I wanted a career that helps people (and preferably, helps the planet as well). While doctors, nurses, and trainers all work to make people healthier, nutrition seems more, well… fun. After all, food is fun! And in this blog, I try to show that eating healthy can be enjoyable.

For more about my journey and professional experience, see the “Meet Kelly” page.

How did you choose your career path? Are you interested in nutrition?

– Kelly

P.S. Kinda obsessed with bookcase styling. See here.

Ask the Dietitian: What is the healthiest food?

DSC01109

Over a recent dinner with new acquaintances, the topic turned to my career in nutrition. “So tell me,” someone asked, “what is the healthiest food?”

Ugh. I hate this question. There is a perception outside of the field that Dietitians take a reductionist view of nutrition, and that they know some secret, ideal nutrient combination for health and longevity. While individual nutrients can be very important in specific disease states, such as carbohydrates in diabetics, or Vitamin K in blood clots, that is not the gist of the field. I am a Dietitian. I work with diets. My preferred tools are not supplements or protein powders- just good old fashioned fruits and vegetables.

I tried my best to explain that it can be dangerous to place emphasis on a particular food, rather than the diet as a whole. While certain foods such as, kale or pomegranate, are high in trendy antioxidants, we need a wide range of nutrients from a wide range of foods. No single “superfood” will make up for the sins of an unbalanced diet. Eating acai berries every morning does not compensate for frequent indulgences in greasy, nutrient poor foods. Actions don’t cancel each other out. Rather, they build up over time.

I went on to explain that nutrition science is very young, and that plants have so many important components that we don’t even know about. I tried my best to paraphrase Michael Pollan’s explanation of this (from In Defense of Food)… That we thought we had it figured out when we discovered the macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. And then we thought we had it figured out again when we discovered vitamins and minerals. And now we are discovering antioxidants and phytochemicals. There is so much about plants that we haven’t discovered yet, that it is silly to put a specific food on a pedestal for being a rich source of the nutrient of the month. We need variety.

While this probably wasn’t the answer that my companions were looking for, hopefully they came away with a better understanding of good nutrition. I won’t speculate on what the healthiest food is, but I can help speculate on the healthiest diet.

The healthiest diet is rich in minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and carefully raised animal products. The healthiest diet is low in processed junk foods and deep fried concoctions. The healthiest diet allows for indulgent and seemingly non-nutritious foods, but understands that indulgences are not an everyday treat, and are meant to be enjoyed thoughtfully, rather than mindlessly scarfed down. The healthiest diet is balanced, varied, and moderate. And most important of all, the healthiest diet is nourishing, sustainable, and pleasurable.

Thoughts?

– Kelly

Taking Food out of the Context of the Diet

I work in University dining, so for National Nutrition Month (March, in case you missed it), I had an “Ask the Dietitian” table for students. Most questions had to do with the sustainability of the foods served or how to navigate the dining halls with a particular allergy. But one question really stuck with me. A boy (holding a greasy plate of pizza, might I add) asked “What are pineapples good for?”

These are the kinds of questions that really irk me as a Dietitian, because they miss the point of nutrition. Sure, pineapples are filled with antioxidants such as Vitamin C and caroteniods (which give them their beautiful yellow color). And sure, these antioxidants are great at preventing cancer and allowing us to live healthy lives. But in order to get the cancer fighting benefits of fruits and vegetables (such as pineapple), you have to eat a diet rich in these foods. Eating a few pineapple slices now and then isn’t going to save you from cancer if you eat a diet rich in greasy, processed foods.

To quote one of my favorite nutrition professionals, Marion Nestle, “The problem with nutrient-by-nutrient nutrition science… is that it takes the nutrient out of the context of the food, the food out of the context of the diet, and the diet out of the context of the lifestyle.”

Indeed, many food system activists such as Michael Pollan and Julie Guthman have critiqued the reductionist tendencies of nutrition science. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As a Dietitian, I find it very important to help clients place their food choices in the context of their overall diet, and I hope that other nutrition professionals do the same.

In my opinion, trying to figure out which fruits and vegetables are the healthiest is a waste of time. Here is a secret: they are all healthy! Instead, let’s focus on how to get more servings of fruits and vegetables. Let’s focus on how to make produce the star of our plates. And let’s work on getting a variety of healthy foods, rather than supplementing our diets with one or two “superfoods”.

– Kelly