Products and Recipes: Making Super Grains easier to fit into the day


The mainstream diet trends of the last 30 years went from the low fat craze of the late 80’s, which evolved into the low carbohydrate fad of the 90’s, then to the no carbohydrate fad of the early 2000′s.


Multi-Colored Quinoa


Once the masses understood that our bodies require carbs for basic functionality, we were led to the healthy carbohydrate revelation: whole grain.  We are now demanding more whole grains in our food and the industry is answering with Ancient Grains. These whole grain carbohydrates are often called “Super Grains” and rightfully so. They are packed with more protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals than their industrialized counterparts. With this nutritional panel, it is no wonder that grains like quinoa were often offered as gifts to the Incan gods.  For the modern grocery shopper, these grains are much less expensive when compared to meat (protein) and refined-convenience foods (i.e. quick cook rice).  At the Supply Side West conference in Las Vegas in November 2012 the results of 2011’s world-wide launch of products containing a super grain were reported. From Farro to Amaranth, a total of 659 new super grain products were released across the world.


As a Registered Dietitian, I researched the nutritional aspects and possible allergens in these super grains. In the following chart, I have detailed some of the more popular super grains, their gluten containing facts, product on the US market containing the grain, and a link to a recipe utilizing the grain. Utilize these grains to decrease the amount of meat in your diet without sacrificing taste or protein.


Super Grain

Also Known As

Gluten Content




Spelt, Einkorn, Pearled faro,

emmer wheat

Reduced in gluten, not gluten free

Einkorn Pasta from Jovial Foods

Einkorn Pilaf with Lemon




Quinoa Blend from Near East

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa


Pearl Millet


Millet Grits from Bob’s Red Mill

Warmed Millet Salad with Brussels, Mushroom, and Sage




 Amaranth Graham Crackers by Health Valley

Popped Amaranth snack




Whole grain Teff by Bob’s Red Mill

Banana Bread with Teff and Chocolate

Kamut (Trademarked company)


Contains gluten, variety of wheat

Khorasan List

Everything Cookie with Kamut Flour



Top 5 Tips to Reduce Exposure to Harmful Pesticides


Too often it seems that the easier, more beautiful or more delicious something is, the more dangerous it is for you.


Such is the unfortunate case with many of the shiny, colorful fruits and vegetables we choose at the grocery store in an effort to eat healthy – they are riddled with pesticides to prolong shelf life and keep insects from ruining their appearance. While no one wants to bite into an apple and eat half of a worm with it, nor find a six-legged family living in their head of lettuce, the side effects of heavy pesticide exposure are even more serious.


According to livestrong.com, these toxic chemicals can cause learning disabilities, negatively affect the nervous system, weaken the immune system and may even be linked to breast cancer. Fortunately there are a few simple steps you can take to greatly reduce your exposure to pesticides and therefore decrease your risk of suffering from negative side effects.


1. Buy Organic

Some fruits and vegetables already have very low pesticide content and are safe to buy in the normal produce section, such as those included in the Clean 15. But many staples in our diets are members of the Dirty Dozen, the twelve types of produce with the highest pesticide content, and should only be eaten in organic form to reduce pesticide ingestion.


2. Grow Your Own

If buying organic seems difficult and expensive, why not cultivate your own produce? Not only does gardening provide a fun hobby and even exercise, it assures you that there are no pesticides in your food because you grew it yourself.  TLC has a great list of 66 different fruits and veggies you can grow at, or even in, your own home.


3. Eliminate Pests Without Using Pesticide

Chemicals are a convenient way to keep unwanted guests out of your home and garden and food, but you may be sacrificing your health in using them. Taking natural measures to keep your home clean and bug-free, such as following this helpful guide from grist.org, will help keep your home free of pests and pesticides.


4. Detoxify Your Diet

In addition to avoiding pesticides in your diet and your methods of pest control, you can counteract pesticides you may unknowingly ingest by eating foods that act as natural detoxifiers. Make sure you still purchase these items organic if they are part of the Dirty Dozen.


5. No Shoes In the House

Incorporating all of these safety measures into your lifestyle will greatly reduce your risk of exposure to harmful pesticides, but you can only control so much. You may not use pesticides and harmful chemicals on your lawn and garden, but anywhere else you go you can’t be sure what you’re stepping in.  Having a no-shoe rule in the house keeps toxic chemicals from being tracked in to your home and cultivates a cleaner, safer living space. This is especially important if you have small children or pets that crawl on (or eat things off of) the floor.


Author:  Emily Johnson



5 Quick and Easy Fiber Fixes


Whole, fibrous foods are a weight loss favorite because they are good for the pocketbook, waistline, and your body. Whole foods that are packed with fiber are less expensive when compared with their fortified food counterparts. For example, a cooked cup of barley costs pennies per serving and has 6 grams of fiber. In contrast, the leading fiber-filled granola bar can cost about 60 cents apiece and have 9 grams of fiber. Not only is the granola bar more expensive, gram for gram, but that bar is merely a snack whereas the barley is half a meal. As a bonus, the whole grain barley is also packed with phytochemicals, fiber, and protein.

This is where your waistline and health come into play. Foods higher in fiber make you feel fuller on fewer calories. Whole foods such as beans, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of healthy calories and fiber.


Fiber also works as a scrub brush to clear out natural byproducts of our body’s metabolic process and unneeded cholesterol in our blood. Fiber adds bulk to our poop thus helping dispose all the toxins and dead cells from the colon. For various (and more technical) reasons, eating more fiber has shown to help decrease the chances of colon cancer.  How much fiber do we need to consume in a day to enjoy the full range of benefits? It is recommended that men need 30-38 grams a day, and women need 21-25 grams a day.


An easy step to increase your fiber intake is to focus on getting 5 to 9 fruits and vegetables a day in your diet. Here are a few more quick swaps and additions you can make to your daily diet to increase your fiber:


  1. Flax and Chia seeds: Great to add to any breakfast cereal. If the nutty flavor of flax is not your favorite try chia. Chia is more gelatinous so adding it to oatmeal is a good fit. Chia can also go undetected for children as it blends so well with the oatmeal! Three Tbsp of chia contains 14 grams of fiber and that is more than the average American eats in a day (12 grams).
  2. Beans and legumes: Wash-off dry beans, place in a slow cooker, and cover with 2 inches of water or vegetable broth. Add seasonings as desired. I like the seasonings from Chef  Paul Prudhomme  or Mrs. Dash because they are quick salt-free spice mixes. Cook on low for 8 hours and have bean soup served with/over whole grain or corn bread. A cup of black beans will add 15 grams of fiber to your day.
  3. Wheat berries: Eat hot or cold. This is a wheat product that has a clean nutty flavor. Eat as a side salad (hyperlink to
    http://nourishnetwork.com/2009/08/25/get-a-new-grain-wheat-berries/) or alone in place of rice. A half a cup serving has 4 grams of fiber.
  4. Bulgur: Meat is void of fiber so add some to your dish! Add cooked bulgur to your meat loaf. Try adding dry bulgur your taco mix when you add your water and seasoning. Bulgur picks up any flavor you combine it with and has a similar texture to the ground beef.  Add a cup of bulgur to dinner and this will add 8 grams of fiber.
  5. Amaranth- Pop like old-fashioned popcorn on the stovetop. I recommend to only popping 3-4 Tablespoons at a time. It will “pop” and turn from the light brown color to white. Eat as a snack or sprinkle on your salad to add a fibrous crunch. A nice sprinkle of about 4 Tbsp of popped amaranth to your salad will offer about 5 grams of fiber to your meal.



15 Foods You Don’t Have to Buy Organic for the Holidays


Healthy eating is no longer a crazy fad but a widespread movement that reaches far beyond the social borders of hippies, locavores and their ilk. But those of us who weren’t raised perusing the incense-infused aisles of the local health food store for fructose-sweetened knock-offs of the diabetes-inducing cereals all the other kids were eating need a little help. With Thanksgiving coming up, there is no better time to try out delicious recipes that will weigh lightly on your conscience (if not on your scale).



Starting with the basics, a good beginner’s guide to pair with your holiday grocery list is The Clean 15, a guide to 15 fruits and vegetables whose non-organic options are low enough in harmful pesticides to greatly reduce your risk of growing a third eye (save that for yoga class). Sadly many of the fruits and veggies involved in classic family dinner dishes, such as the apples in your favorite pie, are often full of pesticide residue if they’re not certified organic. But fear not, the Clean 15 has plenty of yummy choices like the ones used in these recipes that are worth giving thanks for.


1. Asparagus with Creamy Tarragon Sauce

This Huffington Post slideshow features 25 photos of different preparations for this member of the Clean 15. Steamed asparagus is a good, green substitute for green bean casserole, and with its creamy but light sauce you won’t even miss the Cream of Mushroom soup.


2. Eggplant Gratin

This luxurious dish is a fine replacement for scalloped potatoes, with all the cheese, much higher nutritional value and much lower risk of ingesting pesticides.


3. Honey Grapefruit Salad

Pie is a traditional staple in most any holiday-geared household, but let’s be honest, who ever has room for it? This traditional French dessert is light, full of Clean 15-approved grapefruit, and spiked with a little Grand Marnier to make things interesting. Follow the link for the original recipe in French from Le Figaro, or reference the English translation below.


2 red grapefruits, 1 grapefruit, 3 oranges, 4 tablespoons of honey, 1 lime, 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier, 2 sprigs of fresh mint


Wash the fruit and zest one orange and the lime. Juice the oranges and the lime and pour it into a pot with the zest. Add the honey and one sprig of mint. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove the mint and set your sauce aside.

Peel the grapefruit, cut them into quarters and put them in a large bowl. Add the sauce and the Grand Marnier. Refrigerate and serve decorated with mint leaves.


4 & 5. Sweet Creamed Corn and Sweet Potato Casserole  

These are two favorites for which there is no need to turn organic- sweet corn and sweet potatoes are both Clean 15 cardholders.


Author:  Emily Johnson


Power Up With a High-Protein Diet


Every cell in the body contains protein, and whether running, jumping, shopping, or just hanging out, protein is doing important work by repairing damaged cells and making new ones. Protein is essential to keep cells alive, and even though it is not a super source of energy such as carbohydrates and fats, it keeps the body functioning 24/7.




Protein is the building block for muscle, and since the body can’t save it for later like carbohydrates and fat, it’s important to keep a constant stream coming, so the muscles stay strong and healthy. Protein construction is a never ending process, so if it doesn’t get a new supply often, the body will break down muscle from elsewhere in order to rebuild damaged areas – stealing from the biceps to pay the triceps.


In order to keep this thievery at bay, it is important to ingest protein throughout the day, and the two key times to get a protein fix are 30 minutes after waking up and 30 minutes after working out.

Wake up and smell the protein:
We hear it all the time, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and come to find out protein is a critical component. If there’s any time the body is craving to get some much needed replenishment, it’s after being deprived of protein for the whole night. The body is hungry for nutrients, and protein is a fast way to break the fast. It’s also an instant metabolism boost, because eating protein requires extra energy to digest, which means the body burns more calories digesting it than carbohydrates and fats.

Equally as important is getting some protein after exercise. Following a training session, the body is damaged at the cellular level, and it needs time to repair this damage in order to get stronger. For the body to do this, it needs a little help from its friend, protein, so it can get the raw materials to rebuild and recover. By taking in protein (20 grams or so) within 30 minutes after exercise, the body gets the nutrients it needs to recover without breaking down its own muscle tissue.

High Quality Protein Sources:
Eggs, turkey bacon, soy protein, raw nuts, or cottage cheese. Fish, beans, lean beef, and chicken are great alternatives as well, but may not be so appetizing for breakfast. The quickest and easiest “whey” to get protein is by chugging down a protein shake, as it is absorbed faster than solid foods.

Timing is everything:
A serving of protein 30 minutes after waking up and 30 minutes after working out will help to keep the body strong and healthy by preserving muscle tissue and giving the metabolism a boost. Power to the protein!


6 Foods to Brighten Your Day


How do you boost your mood? Oreo cookies, cheesecake, Boston cream pie!! These six foods may not sound all sweet and yummy but use them creatively and you’ll be getting more bang out of your calorie count and a less stressed out mind. Source “The All-Pro Diet” author Tony Gonzalez & Mitzi Dulan, RD.



  1. Peppers are packed with vitamin C, which can inhibit the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Yellow peppers have the highest levels (341mg), Red peppers have (209mg), and Green have (132mg).
  2. Walnuts have been linked to heart health and weight control, but just a handful a day! New research from the University of Barcelona finds that nuts, along with almonds and hazelnuts, can boost levels of serotonin, a hormone that increases feelings of well-being.
  3. Chickpeas have the vitamin B called folate and in only half of a cup you get (141mg) of folate. This vitamin is n ecessary for the production of dopamine, a neuro-transmitter associated with pleasure.
  4. Sardines are an omega-3 loaded fish. Research from Ohio State University found that people who regularly consumed foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are 20% less anxious feeling than those who do not consume them.
  5. Avocados are a must if you are stressed. Stress can deplete stores of B vitamins in our bodies.  These B vitamins are essential for the creation of serotonin. Avocados are an excellent source of B vitamins and potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure.
  6. Sunflower seeds an excellent source of magnesium and a one ounce serving will give you (91mg)…you need (320mg) a day. A deficiency of magnesium can slow dopamine production, leaving you feeling stressed and anxious.


If you work hard to keep your outsides looking good, why not do the same for your insides. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any more cookies!! Eat them because you love them but, in moderation.




Just Say No to these 5 Diet Strategies


It’s not always easy to decide which diet tips to follow. And there are a lot of tips out there, but here are five common weight loss strategies that you should really avoid.


Missing Meals 

If you are skipping meals because you think it is a good way to reduce calories, think again. Cutting calories is definitely key to weight loss, but missing out on meals can mess with your metabolism. When you wait too long to eat, your body reacts by slowing down your metabolism and halt weight loss. If your schedule is the issue and you’re simply too busy to sit down and eat a full meal, store small snacks in your purse, desk or car to eat throughout the day so that you can keep your metabolism moving.


Saying Goodbye to Entire Food Groups

Giving up entire food groups can lead to nutrient deficiencies, and can also trigger cravings for whatever food has been cut out. So for example, rather than eliminating all carbohydrates focus on quality carbs like whole grains. And remember to watch your portions. It’s usually the serving size that adds to your weight gain, not the bread or pasta.



All Cardio, All the Time 

If you live on the treadmill, elliptical, or in a spin class, but never pick up a weight, you’re missing out on an important piece of the fitness puzzle. Not only does weight training build and tone muscles, it also strengthens the joints and increases metabolic rate. And thanks to a revved up metabolism, you’ll keep burning calories even after you’ve slipped off your sneakers.


Exercising on Empty

When you work out on an empty stomach, you burn calories from muscle, not fat. It’s important to fuel your body before exercising, because you will avoid losing that oh-so important muscle, and you’ll have more energy to push yourself through your workout at a more intense rate. End result — you get a better workout and burn more fat calories. Just choose your pre-workout meal wisely.


Skimping on Sleep 

This one may be the hardest one. Making time to exercise can mean less time for sleep, but it’s important to get that shut-eye when you’re trying to lose weight. You need extra energy to keep up with your exercise routine, and skimping on sleep can actually affect your body’s ability to control appetite. Too little sleep increases an appetite-stimulating hormone, so when you don’t get enough ZZZZs, it may be easier to be tempted and overindulge.




The Top 5 Reasons to Eat Healthy Food


The USDA changed their recommendation from the food pyramid to MyPlate, most magazines have at least one article about the latest greatest super food or diet to try and we are constantly barraged with special shakes, fruit drinks or vitamin concoctions guaranteed to make us healthier. What is behind all of this massive effort to educate?

The USDA changed their recommendation from the food pyramid to MyPlate, most magazines have at least one article about the latest greatest super food or diet to try and we are constantly barraged with special shakes, fruit drinks or vitamin concoctions guaranteed to make us healthier. What is behind all of this massive effort to educate?


There is a definitive need for direction for many people who are overweight, tired and heading down an unhealthy path. Unfortunately, many physicians are not adequately trained in nutrition, weight loss and preventative medicine. They spend all of their time providing sick care. So many Americans are seeking a healthier path and in doing so, have found the benefits of eating healthy, whole foods.

  1. Weight loss: if excess weight is a concern, changing your pattern of eating from high-fat, high-sugar foods to several servings of veggies and fruits, whole grains and lean protein with occasional sweets will drop the pounds. If you are not overweight, you will provide excellent nutrition for your body and maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Increase in energy: whether it’s to crawl around on the floor with your grandchildren, hike all weekend, pop out of bed in the morning or just have energy all throughout the day, feeding your body good nutrition and plenty of pure water ensures extra energy.
  3. Look younger and feel good: when you meet someone who looks much younger than their age, it’s a good bet they eat healthy. All the nutrients, vitamins and minerals nourish your skin and hair plus people who eat healthy typically participate in other healthy behavior such as exercise, stress reduction and better sleep. Fueling your body with the best food makes you feel your best too.
  4. Stay away from the doctor’s office: eating a rainbow of veggies and fruits full of antioxidants plus other foods such as yogurt and eggs have shown immunity-boosting ability.
  5. Prevent heart disease, type II diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer: a poor diet has been attributed as potential factors of these diseases. Prevention is clearly better than treatment.

Whatever your motivation for eating healthy food, it does not need to be boring or bland. Spice it up, switch things around, trying new recipes and foods. Nothing is good or bad, just some foods are superior fuel and energy and some are just emotional satisfaction. Before I make a choice, I ask if the food before me is worth it… taste, texture and calories. If it is, I savor each bite.


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The Importance of Eating Organic – The Dirty Dozen


The Dirty Dozen list highlights the top 12 fruits and vegetables that are best to eat organic due to the high levels of pesticide contamination:

Question #1:

How can you be healthier and contribute to the planet?  Eat organic.   Pesticides, herbicides and other scientifically engineered chemicals seep into the ground and our water.  Eventually we are ingesting these toxic compounds that were developed to kill living organisms. These chemicals reach the colon and remain there, making the colon toxic and slowly poisoning our body.  These chemicals may also be linked to certain childhood diseases, such as ADD, and cause rivers and wetlands to suffer by pollution.


Organic soil contains microbes that provide essential nutrients that cannot be found in artificial fertilizers. These helpful bacteria, algae, fungi and protozoas help to transform compost chemicals into healthy nutrients which are easily absorbed by plant roots.


Compared to the conventional marketed vegetables that are synthetically grown, organic foods are filled with the essential vitamins and minerals that others lack.  Mother Nature is solely in charge of organically grown fruits and vegetable and some believe that organic foods actually taste better. Compared to gigantic pink strawberries shipped from far away and stored in plastic boxes, freshly picked red-ripe ones are much sweeter.


[Also Read: Going Organic to Treat Depression ]


Question #2:

What is the most cost-effective way to ‘go organic?’  Shop your local Farmers Markets.  Their produce does not usually come from industrial agricultural farms, like most grocery stores, but rather from smaller family farms. Although not entirely organic, it is a healthier option.  Prices can be negotiated when purchasing the bulk of your produce from one farmer, helping keep the costs low.  Especially when the fruits are ‘in season,’ you are guaranteed a great deal!



Question #3:

What about processed food?  Do I have to buy those organic?  The average American consumes processed food daily and it is important to understand that every package of processed food contains canola, soy, or corn in some form. This implies that processed foods that do not carry the USDA Organic mark contains food that is genetically modified. Take time to be concerned of your health and avoid buying processed food at all. When you do purchase processed foods, avoid buying products that lists corn, soy and canola as an ingredient and take into consideration buying 100% certified organic to avoid eating food that is genetically modified.