Summer Flatbread Pizza

Summer Flatbread Pizza with Blueberries, Corn, Squash, Goat Cheese, and Basil

Summer Flatbread Pizza

As promised, I put my hand-picked blueberries to good use. While my head said “whole grain muffins” and “fruit salad,” my heart said “pizza.” Heart, I think you were on to something. I shared this recipe on the Oldways Table Blog, so to view the full recipe, head on over to my post.

– Kelly

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Desktop Wallpapers to Inspire Healthy Living

Pike Place Market

^^ This photo that I took at Pike Place Market in 2013 has been my long-time desktop background

The home should be a sanctuary that inspires healthy living, and screens (computer + phone) are no exception to that. Other than my own personal collection of farmers market photos (I know, I am such a cliche), there are two sites that I like to browse for free desktop wallpaper backgrounds: Design*Sponge and Nutrition Stripped. Design*Sponge is one of my favorite design and lifestyle sites, which features home tours, city guides, entrepreneurship stories, and the occasional downloadable wallpaper. Nutrition Stripped is a nutrition blog, run by Nashville-based dietitian McKel Hill. She introduces a new downloadable wallpaper on the First Friday of every month for a “Style Your Screen” series. Here are some of my favorite designs from these two sites:

Alexia Toussaint for DesignSponge - free desktop background

Alea Toussaint for Design*Sponge // Available for both desktop and cell phone backgrounds. Click here to download

Julie Lee for Design Sponge

Julie Lee for Design*Sponge // This is my current desktop background at work. Click desired size to download: 1280 x 800, 1440 x 900, 1680 x 1050, 1920 x 1200, 2560 x 1440, iPhone option A, iPhone option B

Eat Healthy Designs for Nutrition Stripped

Eat Healthy Designs for Nutrition Stripped // Click here to download.

Eat Healthy Designs for Nutrition Stripped

Eat Healthy Designs for Nutrition Stripped // Reminds me of my favorite shirtClick here to download.

DBuerli for Nutrition Stripped

DBuerli for Nutrition Stripped // Click here to download.

DBuerli for Nutrition Stripped

DBuerli for Nutrition Stripped // Click here to download.

Maria Schoettler for Design Sponge

Maria Schoettler for Design*Sponge // Click desired size to download: 1600 x 1200, 1920 x 1200iPhoneAndroid

Maria Schoettler for Design Sponge

Maria Schoettler for Design*Sponge // Click desired size to download: 1600 x 1200, 1920 x 1200iPhone, Android

Nutrition Stripped style your screen

Nutrition Stripped // A great reminder to give your body what it needs! Click here to download.

Helen Dealtry for Design Sponge

Helen Dealtry for Design*Sponge // Not directly healthy living related, but a fun and colorful way to be reminded of nature! Click desired size to download: 1024 x 768, 1600 x 1200, 1920 x 1200cell phone

What’s on your desktop right now?

– Kelly

My Favorite Healthier Menu Items Around Boston

Wondering how a registered dietitian navigates the Boston casual dining scene? When eating out, it helps to have a few go-to healthy menu items in mind–dishes that are loaded with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. See below for 5 of my current favorite nutritious menu options around town!

Healthy Menu Items in Boston: Museli from Tatte

Muesli from Tatte Bakery ($9 bowl pictured, or $6 cup): Unsweetened whipped Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, black sesame seeds, sliced almonds, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, oats, and a drizzle of honey

Healthy Menu Items in Boston: Grilled Veggie Whole Wheat Burrito from Annas Taqueria

Grilled Veggie Burrito from Anna’s Taqueria ($6.85): I choose the whole wheat tortilla (whole wheat is the first ingredient!) and fill it with black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, and grilled veggies (an impressive mix of bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, corn, and green beans). That’s it. No meat, no cheese, no problem!

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Sweet Potato Sandwich from Crema Cafe ($6.95): Toasted whole grain bread filled with sweet potato, granny smith apple, hummus, sprouts, avocado, and sherry vinaigrette. Great for sharing!

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Salad from Sweetgreen (approx. $8.50-$10.50) I almost always go for the seasonal salads, but I also LOVE the Hummus Tahina and the Wild Child (with chickpeas)… and basically the whole menu!

Whole Wheat French Toast from The Paramount

Whole Wheat French Toast with Fruit from The Paramount Beacon Hill ($11): This is one of the few places that I have been able to find whole wheat French toast. Unfortunately, it was recently taken off the menu (to make room for new lunch specials), but the staff informed me that I will always be able to order it because they keep the whole wheat bread stocked for turkey sandwiches. So go ahead and ask for it, even if it’s not listed!

Do you know of any delicious, Boston area restaurant meals that are loaded with nourishing ingredients? Do tell! Also, for more of my food adventures, don’t forget to follow along on Instagram (@kellytoupsrd)!

– Kelly

Blood Pressure and Diet: Why Salt is Only Part of the Story

Healthy Beet HummusIf you’re worried about your blood pressure, then it’s time to put down the reduced sodium potato chips! A “low sodium” version of the standard American junk food diet isn’t going to do your heart many favors.

Keeping an eye on sodium intake is important. But obsessively counting grams of sodium from various food packages is no longer necessary once you start choosing fruits, vegetables and whole foods in their natural, unprocessed state, rather than relying on packaged convenience foods.

Instead of looking for “low sodium” chips in the grocery store, skip the chip aisle all together, and stock up on carrots, watermelon, and low fat yogurt. Additionally, by centering your meals on produce (choosing a fruit salad instead of French fries, or bean and vegetable chili instead fried chicken), your sodium intake will fall naturally. Make it a challenge to see just how much produce you can incorporate into your meals.

What does the science have to say?

Healthy GranolaAccording to the groundbreaking DASH study, eating a diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy (also known as the DASH diet) without decreasing sodium intake can decrease systolic blood pressure (the top number in your blood pressure reading) by 5.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in your blood pressure reading) by 3 mm Hg. The results for patients with hypertension are even more profound: 11.4 mm Hg decrease for systolic and 5.5 mm Hg decrease for diastolic. (Note: ideal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg).

The follow up to this study, DASH II, found that reducing sodium intake to low levels without altering dietary patterns decreases systolic blood pressure by 6.7 mm Hg. This is a huge improvement, but as evidenced above, similar results can be achieved just by eating a healthy diet!

How does this translate into everyday food choices?

Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes made with Greek yogurtVegetable soups and low fat cottage cheese are foods often considered off limits if you’re trying to lower your blood pressure. But these foods actually have beneficial nutrients (magnesium and calcium) that help offset the sodium in your body. And by preparing vegetable soups from scratch (using low sodium broth or stock, or even water), rather than picking up a shockingly salty can from the supermarket, you keep control of your salt intake. To learn more about the DASH diet, see this article.

Obviously, the most optimal results come from following the DASH diet AND decreasing sodium intake. But if it takes a little bit of seasoning to help you get your 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables, I say go for it! Nutrition and public health expert Marion Nestle made similar comments on recent health studies analyzing sodium and blood pressure:

“People don’t eat salt; they eat foods containing salt, and foods high in salt tend to be high in other things best consumed in small amounts. The studies also talk about the protective effects of potassium, best obtained from vegetables. Eat a lot of vegetables and not too much junk food, and you don’t have to worry about any of this.”

For heart healthy recipe ideas, such as those pictured above, check out my recipe page!

– Kelly

Evidence that Nutrition Assistance Programs Can Help Improve the Food Environment

What good are food stamps doing to nourish the hungry if participants spend it all on junk food?

This is a common critique of nutrition assistance programs, and for a good reason. That being said, many hunger advocates counter that today’s hungry often live in communities where fresh, healthy foods aren’t available, and that tightening the nutrition criteria for these assistance programs will leave participants with nowhere to turn. After all, a little bit of junk food is better than no food at all. However, a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior demonstrates that when nutrition assistance programs update their offerings to reflect the latest in nutrition research, the foodscape improves to benefit everyone.

FRUIT SELECTION

Background from the study:

“Based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, the US Department of Agriculture changed the WIC Program’s supplemental food packages, addressing nutritional concerns of the panel by offering low-fat milks and whole grains, and including cash vouchers for fruits and vegetables. Before the change, WIC offered juice, milk, cereals, eggs, beans, and other foods. However, the milk was whole milk, cereals were not whole grain products, there was no option to include whole grain bread or rice, and there were no fruits and vegetables. This set of changes, the first in a generation, went into effect in most states, including Louisiana, in October, 2009.”

So what happened after these changes were introduced?

For this study, researchers visited small stores in New Orleans right when the change was introduced, and then again a year later. In 2009, only 3.7% of stores participating in the WIC program carried whole wheat bread or brown rice, but a year later, 70.4% offered whole wheat bread and 92.6% offered brown rice!

These drastic improvements aren’t just a sign of the times, but can largely be attributed to the changes in the WIC program. That’s because at non-WIC participating small stores in New Orleans in 2010, whole wheat bread was only offered at a meager 1.5% of stores, and brown rice was only offered in 12.1% of stores. Additionally, the study found that the number of varieties of fresh fruit significantly increased (from 3 to 4) at WIC stores, but not at the non-WIC stores, and average shelf space of all vegetables increased in WIC stores by about 1.2 meters.

VEGETABLE SHELF SPACE

These improvements in healthy food selection benefit all shoppers, not just those in the WIC program. Could similar improvements be made to other nutrition assistance programs? Weigh in!

Note: Despite these hopeful findings, food choices in depressed communities are in dire shape. For more on this topic, see my blog post on the link between hunger and obesity. Also, to learn more about the WIC program, see here.

– 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