Thursday, 12 November 2009

get your beauty sleep

No, seriously. I mean it.

Research has suggested that getting <7-8 hrs of sleep or >7-8 hrs of sleep per night could be detrimental to your health. 


[This = last year at Christmas. All those papers I fell asleep with? My dietetic internship application]

Skimping on sleep or getting too much sleep may lead to*:

  • higher circulating levels of ghrelin (appetite stimulating hormone)
  • lower circulating levels of leptin (satiation hormone)
  • increased risk of weight gain {because of the above}
  • increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes
  • increased risk of cardiovascular disease

*Alvarez GG, Ayas NT.Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. 2004 Spring;19(2):56-9. Review.

Plus, sleep is important for immune health. I know I haven’t been doing the best job at getting maximum sleep at night. I’ve been spending too much time figuring out what I’m going to do post internship {yet, I’m still not sure..hmm}.


This savory roasted red pepper soup will rock your world [and it’s vegan]. There are some complex flavors going on, and it’s blended, which automatically makes it amazing. As a spice wimp, I left out the cayenne, but it was still pretty hot with the addition of an entire jalapeno.


What goes pretty well with soup? Kale bagels, of course. Many of you said you were inspired by my bagel-making efforts {why thanks, you flatter}. Others were not so sure about the color slash flavor.


I did get a question regarding the nutrients lost when cooking kale.

Most carotenoids and many vitamins are heat stable.  In fact, some are even made more bioavailable through heating, which helps release them from the food matrix. One exception is vitamin C, which is heat sensitive and easily oxidized. The kale was sautéed, boiled, and baked in the bagel-making process, so the losses from these combined processes may be significant (I don’t know that anyone has ever measured this). If you compare raw and cooked kale, you can see a difference, but cooked kale is still packed with good nutrition.

1 c. raw kale

1 cup raw kale

1 c. boiled kale

1 c. cooked kale

So, maybe I shouldn’t have said you lose considerable nutritional benefits by cooking kale, but you do lose some nutrition {thanks Lynn, for the pointing this out}.

Just a quick note: my ASN post on the 24^3 event is up. Any comment love is much appreciated! I think it’s pretty neat that a pro-sustainability post can be featured on such a visible venue, and I hope that many of the nutrition scientists will read it. I know many of you have already read about the 24^3 event, but stop by the ASN page if you can! :-)

asn blog

The weekend is almost here! I see yoga, Soulard, a blogger meet-up, and some running in the works. What are your plans?


Monday, 9 November 2009


I spent this morning teaching the intricacies of the Food Guide Pyramid to middle schoolers in the St. Louis public school system. Definitely challenging to say the least. After 4 summers as a camp counselor, I’ve learned how to interact with all sorts of kids, but it’s still hard to teach a lesson while competing with 25 chatty 8th graders. I think these kinds of experiences just serve to build character, kinda like this apple…


We actually served these to the kids today, and most labeled them as moldy or rotten-looking, but the apples are actually really good…the taste is almost reminiscent of a pear. I think hard situations may seem ugly at surface value, but if you look deeper, you can always find good. I know that we did make an impact on some of the kids who heard our lessons today, and if even one decides to take steps toward better nutrition, I feel like I’ve done something.

On that note, let’s chat about kale. I refused to eat this green for the longest time because it’s pretty bitter in the raw form [unless you make it into a green monster]. Nutritionally, it’s pretty awesome, and with the swine making its way around, I know we could all use some extra vitamin C.


Unfortunately, cooking kale causes it to lose many of its nutritional benefits, but the good news is that it still remains a good source of many vitamins and minerals, even after boiling. I’m not sure how many nutrients are left after the sauté, boil, and bake process I put the poor kale through to make these bagels.


The verdict: I was sad they didn’t taste more like kale, which is weird, I know. I think they needed more garlic + salt [gasp], to avoid masquerading as regular old whole wheat bagels. I like knowing exactly what goes into the food I’m eating, though, so modifying the recipe and trying again is worth it to me.


I have to admit that bagel-making is pretty fun [although a bit labor intensive]. I hadn’t made bagels since my food science class during my sophomore year of college…and who knows how those turned out with all our shenanigans in the foods lab.

As for preventing the swine: In addition to normal hand sanitation guidelines and increasing vitamin C intake, I would also add the importance of adequate sleep, hydration, and practicing overall good nutrition habits to the mix. And maybe throwing back a shot of wheat grass or two.

Stay healthy, everyone!


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

little things in life + a bacteria lesson prt 2

Thanks for all the good luck wishes for my test! My brain is seriously still recovering. I think it went ok, but I guess I’ll find out when I get the test back. I’m a huge nerd, though, and I really enjoyed this past section on obesity, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. They are all pretty related; it’s scary.

Sometimes life is all about the little things. Like…

yoga by candlelight + imogen heap


whole wheat dark chocolate pumpkin muffins


local Thanksgiving plans…my mom [aka head chef at home] is on board for a local food-focused turkey day celebration in Michigan.


As promised, part 2 of probiotics & prebiotics: consumer recommendations. Click here if you missed part 1.*


  • top prebiotics are inulin and oligosaccharides: seen most commonly in energy bars/cereal, yogurt, dairy & soy drinks, and breakfast cereals.
  • benefits seen with intake between 5-7 grams/day


  • should be tested in humans and proven to confer health benefits
  • get your doctor’s approval if you have immune system issues
  • check the expiration date: bacteria are live organisms!
  • store probiotic-containing foods properly to preserve bacteria

*Some product examples…

Dannon Activia


Contains: Bifidum regularis aka Bifidobacterium animalis

Claims: clinically proven to help naturally regulate your digestive system in two weeks; reduce bloating and irregularity

Studies: funded several studies that showed 4-12 oz of Activia yogurt per day reduced transit time an average of 10-30 hours after 2 weeks [I’d like to know if any independent research was conducted]

Kashi Vive Cereal


Contains: lactobacillus acidophilus

Claims: promotes balance and digestive wellness

Studies: none; benefits not proven

Stonyfield Farm Yogurt


Contains: L. acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei, L. reuteri

Claims: fights viruses and bacteria assoc. with diarrhea, GI disease and harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Staphylococcus, Candida yeast, and other harmful microorganisms

Studies: L. reuteri shown to cut the rate of diarrhea by ~33% and shortened duration by ~ 1 day [Environ. Health 4: 25, 2005]; I’m trying to see if any other studies have been published.

Bottom Line: Probiotics and prebiotics can be beneficial, but it’s important to consider the processing of the foods they are found in [can affect viability of bacteria], the research behind the products [check product websites for proof that they are effective], and dosage [# of bacteria should be same as shown beneficial in clinical studies].

*taken directly from Kras’s slide presentation at FNCE this year

I know this information is still confusing, but hopefully I’ve provided some help in evaluating the products on shelves at your local grocery store. If anyone has heard of other studies on products not mentioned, let me know. What probiotic/prebiotic products do you currently consume?

I’m seriously in need of sleep, so I think I’m calling lights out right now. We learned in metabolism class that <7-8 hrs. of sleep per night is detrimental to health and hormonal regulation…super interesting information for another post.

Thanks for reading, friends!



If you haven’t heard, Katie or CCV is donating her page-click earnings to charity…help a girl out by clicking the logo below!


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A night of local food

foodbuzz 24^3 heading.psd

Shortly after joining the Foodbuzz community, I heard about their monthly VISA Signature 24^3 [24 meals, 24 hours, 24 blogs] event. Not being a culinary expert, I wasn’t sure if I would ever participate. But that changed when I started St. Louis University’s dietetic internship and met Dan, another intern with a culinary focus and both the experience and creativity to conceptualize a fantastic 5 course dinner [see his sketches below].


And so our 24^3 proposal was born…we wanted to feature locally grown food because we feel strongly about supporting local farmers, and as future dietitians, we know that local food is often more nutritious than food imported from thousands of miles away since it is picked at peak ripeness.

We shopped for most of our produce at Soulard, an enormous farmers’ market. Not everything there is from our immediate area, but we tried our best to get locally grown food.


So, why the big focus on local food?


Locally grown food is kinder to the environment and reduces pollution due to decreased transport time.


Buying local food contributes to rural sustainability and helps support the livelihoods of small farmers, whose farms contribute to agricultural biodiversity.


Local farms are also smaller, less open to hormone and chemical use, produce more grass-fed or free-range animals, and are more organic-friendly.


By the time we were done shopping, we had a ton of produce ready to be made into a fabulous meal. Honestly, it was a bit overwhelming, and I was glad Dan was the brains behind the whole operation.


The ex-roommate’s sister, Christy, was a huge help. She spent her Saturday chopping vegetables, prepping sauces, and picking out $80 worth of wine to go with our meal {thanks, Christy!}.


This is what happens when you overcook caramel. Oops. So maybe not everything went exactly as planned.


Do we look tired? I hit some sort of wall in the afternoon. I’m not used to cooking all day {and I wasn’t really even cooking, unless you count shelling 100 walnuts and using my expert blender skills, haha}.


Dan and Christy making the appetizer (fried jalapeno poppers). We discussed the fact that we were incorporating fried food into our menu, which is not exactly nutritious. Our conclusion? Everything in moderation, people.


Working on the gooey butter cake with Christy and the ex-roommate. That cake was an adventure in itself.


Dan with the caramel, round 2.


first course: providing a punch of spiciness paired with creamy and complex sensations, the appetizer featured Baetje Farms Goat Milk cheese-stuffed Jalapeno poppers tempered with creamy country grits and a dark chocolate mole.


The popper was a little too spicy for me {yes, I am a hot-food wimp}, but everyone else devoured their appetizers in about 5 seconds.

second course: perfect for a fall evening, the soup was a corn chowder paired with Brussels sprout confit, roasted pearl onions, and tarragon oil garnished with jalapeno crème fraiche.


Usually I hate Brussels sprouts, but I loved this soup. It was really good with the tarragon and hint of jalapeno. The general consensus was that the Brussels sprouts really enhanced the soup’s flavor.

third course: a crisp addition to our October menu, the salad consisted of Missouri green and red apples, fennel, Baetje Farms Goat Milk cheese, and Missouri black walnuts paired with a coriander cilantro dressing.


My favorite of the 5 courses by far. I loved the dressing featuring my favorite herb, cilantro, and the crispness of the apples. Or maybe I’m just a little biased because I did shell all of those walnuts.

fourth course: combining the best of savory and sweet, the entrée featured pork jowl braised in cilantro honey puree, poached and roasted leeks served with caramel and chimichurri sauce.


Pork jowl is a pretty fatty cut, which is a bit of a surprise, if you’re not used to it. But, hey, fat makes everything taste delicious, and the meat was really tender.

By now, most of the guests were wishing they had worn their elastic-waist sweatpants. Pressing on to the dessert course…


fifth course: Gooey Butter Cake is a St. Louis tradition, so it would only be fair of us to include this delectable dessert as part of our menu. Pairing the cake with a reduction made from Missouri-produced apple cider provided yet another tie into the local food movement.


The cake didn’t really taste like any Gooey Butter Cake I’ve ever had. It wasn’t a bad taste, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Fortunately, the guests enjoyed the cake by the looks of their empty plates.


In all, it was a great day of enjoying the entire process that goes into making a gourmet meal. From shopping for produce at the farmers’ market to cooking and eating with friends….I can’t think of a better way to enjoy food.

A million thanks to Foodbuzz, Dan, Christy, and all of the guests for making this fabulous night possible….

And here’s hoping you enjoyed this post and that maybe, just maybe…you’ll be inspired to create a local food-centered menu of your own.


Friday, 23 October 2009

controversy & a bacteria lesson prt 1

My days are completely mixed up after being in Denver for a weekend +. I kept thinking today was Wednesday, and it’s already Friday tomorrow. Yikes. I miss the Denver sunshine; it’s been pretty gloomy here in St. Louis. 
So, do I endorse all of the companies who sponsored FNCE? Well, honestly, no. I know that these companies provide a lot of funding for great causes, but I don’t necessarily advocate their products. I’m all for innovation: I think that product development is a fantastic frontier. But at the same time, I’m just a little wary of highly processed products with a lot of additives and artificial sugars. This is pretty controversial right now amongst members of the ADA. What are your thoughts about sponsorship?
tony the tiger 
One of the best sessions I attended at FNCE was on probiotics and prebiotics. This is a hot topic: globally, the retail sales of products containing probiotics or prebiotics = $15.4 billion!
::basic definitions::
probiotics: live microorganisms that have the potential to confer a health benefit on the host
prebiotics: food for beneficial bacteria; selectively stimulate the growth of one or a limited number of bacterial species in the colon; examples: agave, inulin, FOS, chicory root
control final
[intestinal cells from one of my lab experiments at Ohio State]
  • both good and potentially harmful bacteria live in the gut [called gut microflora]
  • the gut microflora break down vitamins and ferment fibers and carbohydrates that are not digested in the upper GI tract, which supports a healthy intestinal barrier, inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, and contributes to regularity.
  • probiotics increase the number of good bacteria and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria  in the intestine.  They may help the immune system and assist in maintaining barrier function.
  • prebiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in the intestinal tract and may enhance the effect of probiotic bacteria; may also increase the absorption of certain minerals (such as calcium and magnesium) and may help reduce risk factors related to colorectal diseases.
*as referenced by the International Food Information Council
Are you tongue tied yet? Stay tuned for a bacteria lesson part 2, where I’ll talk about specific products and what you should be looking for when purchasing and using them.
Also, I’m getting ready for a pretty big post after a certain Foodbuzz sponsored event this Saturday, so stay tuned.
Happy Friday!

Friday, 9 October 2009

bridging the gap between alternative and allopathic nutrition

As promised, an interview with Kimberly Snyder, a nutritionist who has learned much about alternative and holistic nutrition by traveling the world {something I would love to do}. In addition to maintaining her blog, Kim also runs a beauty company [Envision Beauty] dedicated to supporting charitable projects in developing countries worldwide and avidly practices yoga.

We recently did a post exchange {read to find out more about my views of holistic nutrition} to increase mutual understanding and respect between *nutritionists and registered dietitians and those more familiar with allopathic (Western) medicine.


*For your reference: a nutritionist is anyone who specializes in nutrition, including CNS, CCN, CHHC, etc; a dietitian has passed the American Dietetic Association’s RD exam and completed 1200 hours of practical experience through an accredited dietetic internship program. An RD can be a nutritionist but usually not vice versa (not to say that nutritionists don’t have a wealth of valuable info to share; many, like Kim, have extensive training).


1. Tell us about your background and how you got interested in nutrition.

I grew up with a mother that was always interested in consuming only unprocessed foods and natural healing. She never wanted me to go on antibiotics (and to date I’ve only taken them twice!), was into whole food supplements and green powders, and there was never, ever any sodas or candy in the house. She was my first nutrition guru!

After I graduated from Georgetown University I moved to Sydney, Australia, where I met a woman that ran a holistic detox center. She changed my life and my perspective of food forever! I saved the money I made working there for a year, and spent the next 3 years backpacking around the world across over 50 countries. I immersed myself in indigenous cultures across India, China, Peru, Mozambique, etc., and learned about these various cultures’ perspectives of nutrition and healing foods (while mostly living in a tent!).

I am just finishing my CCN degree (Certified Clinical Nutritionist), and am a Certified Nutrition Specialist. I have also studied and/or visited with The Ann Wigmore Natural Healing Institute, Dr. Jubb’s Longevity Center, The Natural Detox Temple (Aus), and with many of the other top experts and institutes focusing on cellular nutrition.

2. What is your food philosophy?

My philosophy is that food is the most powerful medicine there is. Our very constitution is constantly being built from the food we put in our mouths. Therefore, we must always strive to put the highest quality, most natural food into our bodies. I always stress eating organic food, and getting a high percentage of raw food in the diet. Raw foods have their own enzymes intact, to allow our energy to be used for detoxifying and assimilative functions, rather than the arduous process of digesting heavier, cooked foods, which can take up to 50% of our energy. Enzymes, vitamins, and other precious compounds are heat sensitive and destroyed with cooking. Of the billions of species on earth, humans are the only one that puts their food under fire and cooks it!

I believe that our dietary choices can often outweigh genetic predispositions. To paraphrase T. Colin Campbell, phD of Cornell University who speared The Cornell-Oxford-China Study, the most comprehensive nutrition study ever conducted, what we put in our mouths is the most significant factor in preventing disease. I highly recommend that everyone should read the book on this study by the way, which highlights Dr. Campbell’s decades long research revealing over 8,000 significant correlations between the consumption of animal protein (not just fat) and disease.

3. How has alternative medicine changed your life?

Since I’ve changed my lifestyle to focus on natural and raw foods and ongoing cellular cleansing, every single aspect of my life has changed. I have a very demanding schedule, and though I sleep less than I did in prior years I am full of energy. I have not taken any medication, so much as an aspirin, in at least 6 or 7 years. With a clean body, my mind is more clear and focused, and I am accomplishing many goals in a short amount of time with my high energy. I feel very positive and well…happy! Because of the impact of my lifestyle!

By the way, I know that I am growing younger, as I continue to put the most regenerative foods in my body, and have better skin, hair, and a better body (without living at the gym or obsessing over calories) than at any other time in my life!

4. How might alternative medicine be used to treat chronic diseases and other health conditions (How might we use it in the clinical setting)?

When I got into this lifestyle, I was amazed to learn about the Hippocrates Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida (inspired by the teachings of Dr. Ann Wigmore) which treats many people with cancer, successfully, with raw food and cleansing. Kris Carr, the popular author of Crazy Sexy Cancer is a cancer survivor that “healed” herself at this institute by choosing this path instead of chemotherapy.

I think many in the allopathic community would not believe that it would be possible to reverse cancer and diseases like MS with raw food and other alternative medicine modalities, but I have met many such people.

The allopathic community has been trained to focus only on research studies conducted by the Scientific Method, and these are not the methods that are often used in alternative medicine and alternative healing modalities. That does not make them less valid, it means that they use different systems. The Ayurvedic or Chinese doctors in India 3000 years ago certainly did not use the Scientific Method!

These other systems treat the body and all its organs as one holistic entity, and look to the cause, rather than treating a specific localized symptom. These medication-free systems do not leaving toxic residue in the body the way synthetic drugs can. I hope that the traditional Western medical community will one day look into these alternative medicine and nutrition modalities with sincere seriousness one day.

5. What are your top 3 superfoods?

Well there is a lot of emphasis on the next best thing that was discovered in the jungles of the Amazon or the Himalayan mountains. While I get excited about some of that stuff, I think most people need to focus on the “everyday” superfoods to get the most benefit.

1. Greens: Packed with minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, chlorophyll and amino acids, this is my number one food group.

2. Raw, ripe fruits: Nature’s natural cleansers.

3. Sprouts: The earliest burgeoning of a seed transforming into a mighty tree or plant, sprouts are one of the highest enzyme-packed foods.

6. What advice do you have for dietitians/nutritionists interested in exploring complementary and alternative medicine?

I would immerse in the study at some of the top natural healing institutes in the United States and around the world, which are committed to alternative opinions and have independent books and research to study from that they have not yet been exposed to.

7. What are things we can do to bridge the gap between traditional and alternative viewpoints of nutrition?

I think there are a lot of political issues at the root of the problem. The fact that the powerful and big-budget dairy and meat industries have the ability to lobby and put out information on nutrition through advertising, that the average person will probably consider to be the truth, I find extremely problematic.

There are billions and billions of dollars made each year in the dairy industry, the meat industry and the pharmaceutical industry. I think unless there are more restrictions and evaluations on the people “at the top” that control the food and drug supply, many people won’t be exposed to other options, or even think there are other options, which may not be as profitable as Big Business.

Many of the traditional accepted views of nutrition, such as the old food pyramid, are now seen as outdated. If all the traditional viewpoints of nutrition are correct, then why are we getting sicker and sicker? But I do think that society is becoming more and more open, and I think that dialogue such as this one between Emily and I are important to get more information out there, and inform people that there are different options!

8. Anything else you want to add?

I think dialogue between RD’s and nutritionists is important to have, and no one should think that a particular group of people holds the monopoly on nutritional truth. We should all learn from each other! Arrogance, ego, or dismissing another group’s perspective without investigation only hurts the people that we are all trying to help.


Thanks so much, Kim [check out her blog for more information!], for sharing your perspective on nutrition and for working with me to help increase understanding between alternative and allopathically-trained nutrition professionals! It is my hope that we can continue to work on this relationship in order to provide the most comprehensive nutrition information possible to better prevent and treat diseases.

Thoughts? You know I’d love to hear {read} them!

Have a great weekend everyone!


p.s. an epic event coming on oct 25th! hint: it involves local food and that guy who makes energy bars. you won’t wanna miss this one.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

tea obsession & zucchini muffins

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday! Favorite things of the moment:

Tazo Green Ginger Tea. I love coffee, but lately, I’ve converted into a tea drinker [or maybe I just bought this variety because it is my favorite green color]


I love the spiciness of the ginger and the hint of pear. Any tea drinkers out there?


Zucchini muffins with dark chocolate: someone bought 6 zukes at the farmers’ market over the past couple of weeks…


Zucchini Muffins {adapted from Smitten Kitchen}

Yield: 24 muffins

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil (applesauce)
1 3/4 cups sugar (1 cup)
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (ww pastry flour)
3 teaspoons cinnamon (3 + if you love cinnamon like me)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (omitted)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using. Stir into the egg mixture.

Bake muffins for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Spaghetti squash: other people reminisce about childhoods filled with delicious baked goods or foods we don’t let ourselves eat regularly anymore. I remember my mom making us spaghetti squash…I guess that’s what I get for growing up in a house full of health nuts.  A little olive oil, carrots, parmesan, garlic, and lots of black pepper = perfection.


Some of you might remember a little commentary I did on Kimberly’s Snyder’s Good Morning America appearance earlier this summer. I’ve since been chatting with Kim about alternative medicine and nutrition and have a little interview on her blog if you want to check it out. I participated in this exchange because I want to help bridge the gap between nutritionists who focus on alternative medicine and allopathically trained dietitians. I think we can learn a lot from eachother…I will also be featuring an interview with Kim later this week, so check back soon.

What are your thoughts on alternative medicine? Anyone have experience with different therapies? 

Tomorrow I’m watching a cardiac catheterization…so glad it’s not a major invasive surgery {there is a reason I didn’t go to med school}.