Thursday, November 14, 2013

A lovely & light holiday appetizer
Stuffed Endive

2 Heads Endive, washed and separated
6 oz goat cheese

6 oz Neufchatel cream cheese

3 Tbs chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, chives, flat Italian parsley)

3 Tbs Pomegranate seeds

4 Tbs Chopped toasted nuts (choose walnuts for heart health)


Pre-heat oven to 375° F. Spread nuts in single layer on cookie sheet and toast until crunchy (about 15 minutes) shaking occasionally. Set aside to cool. Mix cheeses and herbs together. Spoon cheese mixture onto endive leaves and garnish with pomegranate seeds and chopped nuts. Drizzle with honey. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It’s 3pm and my brain is in a fog. It’s time to step outside my office and squeeze in a quick workout.  I’m lucky enough to work in a fitness center- the beep of the cardio equipment- has a subtle taunting effect but I can’t always muster the drive to work out.  I suffer the same mid-day fatigue that office worker’s experience. So I’m sharing my favorite afternoon snack pick-me up – a handful of dry roasted nuts (no salt please) a few chocolate covered acai berries (yum!) and chocolate covered coffee beans (just a few for pep). It’s just enough to perk me up to go hit the weights with purpose!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Best Seared Steak

This is the last steak recipe you will ever need. Because the name says it all – it is simply the best. And even better, it is very simple to do. This is my go-to meal when I have been extra busy and home cooked meals have started to get boring. My family is always thrilled to hear it’s on the dinner menu. I know some of you are thinking “I can’t believe a nutritionist is eating steak!” Yes, I do eat red meat. But I do so moderately and thoughtfully. I choose grass-fed, pasture raised beef for two reasons. Pasture-raised beef has gotten more exercise and is therefore leaner and it will also be higher in omega-3 fats, which are heart healthy and lower in omega-6 fats, which can be pro-inflammatory. In sum, grass-fed beef will have a healthier fat profile than grain-fed beef. Red meat is also high in iron, zinc and the B-vitamins – all are important nutrients for growing children and especially for women.

Steaks, I prefer New York strips or Filets
1 tsp. Extra virgin Olive oil per steak, look for the words “first cold press” on the label
Quality salt and pepper

 Salt ( I use Kosher or sea salt) and pepper steak and allow it to rest at room temperature 30 minutes prior to cooking.

Heat skillet – Do NOT use a Teflon coated skillet (I prefer to use a cast iron) to high temperature for several minutes

Add oil when skillet is extremely hot (you should only be able to hold your hand above the pan for a few seconds if it is hot enough)

Add steak, it should sizzle wildly, now comes the hard part – don’t touch it! Let it develop nice crust on the outside. Reduce the temperature to medium-high for steaks that need to cook longer (medium- to medium-well)

 Sear 2- 4 minutes per side (depending on thickness and desired doneness).

Remove steak from heat and place on wire rack

 Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy with a glass of red wine – the acid in the wine will help boost iron absorption!

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Healthy Cuban Dinner in 15 minutes

I went for tall, dark and handsome when I married my Cuban-born college sweetheart, Jose Ramon Matutes - his friends call him Ray. The commitment came with a promise to my lovely mother-in-law that I would do my best to teach our children about their Cuban heritage. Over the years his family has turned me into an honorary Cuban by sharing their love of their native cuisine. Cuban meals are often heavy on the starch and sometimes include fried items. But there is another lighter side to Cuban cuisine that pairs unusual ingredients and results in tasty and somewhat exotic fare. Here is one my families favorites, Picadillo (pronounced pick-a-dee-yoh)- and I promise a healthy and delicious meal in 15 minutes!

3 TBS. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 large bell pepper, diced
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 clove garlic. minced
1 TBS dried oregano
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 C. dried cherries or golden raisins (raisins are traditional)
15 large olives drained and sliced
2 TBS Fresh Cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute onions and peppers till somewhat soft (about 2 minutes) add ground beef and continue to cook till almost completely browned (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and oregano and heat 2 more minutes. add remaining ingredients except cilantro, reduce heat to simmer to allow flavors to blend (5-7 minutes). top with fresh cilantro before serving.
To round out this meal I cook brown minute rice while the peppers and onions are sauteing and I also serve with peas and corn on the side (although once served it is traditionally all mixed together). I use frozen peas and corn and the whole meal comes together in 15 minutes!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I’ll never forget the first mango I ever tasted. It was so sweet and exotic like a plant marriage between a peach, pineapple and a banana - but not quite. I stood on my back porch eating the flesh from the fibrous pit with juice running all the way down my arms and dripping off my elbows. 
In my youth, growing up in Indiana meant I grew up with a limited selection of fruits but now it is much easier to get fruits and vegetables from afar. Mangoes come from Asia, South American and are grown more locally in Florida and California. There are so many cultivars, over 1,000 that the season starts in May doesn’t end until September.
 Mangoes, dubbed “the king of fruits” are high in fiber, folate, vitamin C and their orange-ish flesh indicate their high Beta-carotene content. They also contain many phyto-nutrients that support eye health including alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.
Savor the fruit alone or transform ordinary dishes with the recipe below for mango pico-de-gallo. It’s fabulous on just about everything. Try it on grilled chicken, fish, hamburgers or turn it into an amazing salad by mixing it half and half with cooked quinoa.

3 Ripe mangoes, diced (look for the a firmness similar to a ripe peach and strong fragrance)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 jicama, diced (substitute a cucumber if you can’t find jicama)

½ red onion, finely diced

1 bunch cilantro chopped

Juice of ½ lime

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spaghetti, Spaghetti is Twice as Nice

It’s fun to say and fun to eat. Kids love this play on words and it is a great way to introduce spaghetti squash. Presentation of a new food to children usually goes over more successfully when they have the opportunity to get involved. Spaghetti squash practically does the work for you with it’s weird and quirky strands that magically appear when the cooked meat is separated with a fork. After it’s cooked let kids do the scraping and then toss the squash strands in with spaghetti and you have a healthy meal your kids will adore.
1 Spaghetti squash, halved and de-seeded (an ice cream scooper works great to remove the seeds)
Whole wheat spaghetti
3 Tbs Olive oil
one diced red bell pepper
one clove minced fresh garlic
4-5 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
Juice of ½ lemon
grated rarmesan cheese to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
preheat oven to 400 O F. Cut spagehtti squash in half lengthwise. Do this by putting a long knife in the center and draw the blade towards one end, remove the knife and repeat towards the opposite end - the squash should easily split open like wood being split with an axe. Remove seeds. Place squash cut side down in a pan and place in oven. Fill pan with water 1/2 way up the squash. Cook for one hour. Squash is done when a knife easily pierces the skin. remove squash from water and handle with a hot pad using a fork to scrape out and separate the squash strands. Cook pasta according to directions. Saute bell pepper with olive oil on medium heat till tender-crisp. Drain pasta and toss with peppers and olive oil, add squash and garlic and heat for 1 more minute. Finish with basil and parmesan cheese to serve.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tomato Lovers Rejoice

As a Hoosier I have an unabashed love of tomatoes so I was happy to discover there is a Tomato Products Wellness Council. Who knew? Visit to view their website. It has interesting nutrition facts and tasty recipes. Tomato lovers rejoice and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

16 Habits for Healthy Families

As a health and wellness professional, I am inundated daily with the latest research findings on how to keep your family healthy. I sympathize with parents trying to wade through this advice and discern the most important issues to focus on. Below, I share the topics I make a priority for my family. I keep in mind that the Center for Disease Control lists cardiovascular disease and cancer as the leading causes of death in the US1 and this statistic shapes our health goals.

1. Eat a diet low in saturated fat by choosing lean sources of animal products and eating more fruits and veggies (good for heart health and decreasing cancer risk and starts habits you want kids to follow for life)2

2. Kids get 60 minutes of physical activity everyday (Which means limiting computer and TV time! As obesity rates soar, this is important for the entire family) 2

3. We consume no foods with cancer promoting sodium nitrates (Look for nitrate free lunch meats, Coleman’s is one such brand) 2

4. Cook with heart healthy extra virgin olive oil, canola oil or Smart Balance spread. 2

5. Eat breakfast everyday (kids do better in school and everyone’s metabolism is kept more consistent and thus less likely to acquire extra weight) 3

6. Kids get 11 hours of sleep (they’re 5 and 8 years old), parents desperately try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep (This improves mood, patience, concentration, learning ability and decreases preponderance for weight gain) 4

7. Eat a variety of fruits and veggies everyday! (This provides ample disease fighting phytonutrients, fiber and promotes food exploration) 5

8. Eat omega-3 rich fishes twice per week (We do this and take fish oil supplements daily for heart health and to decrease inflammation) 6

9. Eat dinner together at the table. (This is an opportunity for kids to be open about the events of their day and a chance for you to casually model the type of eating behaviors you want your children to adopt. They may not eat the broccoli today or even tomorrow but if they see you eating it they will eventually try it.) 7,8

10. Get adequate calcium and Vitamin D daily for bone health and a myriad of other health benefits. (We take supplements to achieve this.) 9,10

11. Kids ALWAYS ride buckled in booster seats in the car since motor vehicle injury is the leading cause of death for children. (Check-out the CDC website for height and weight guidelines

12. Have sweets or other “junk food” on occasion (other than just at parties or special events so they don’t become alluring, forbidden treats) 11

13. Kids drink only water, skim milk or one (3 oz.) serving of 100% juice per day. Parents drink water, coffee/tea, and no more than 1-2 servings of alcohol per day (1 servings is 1 ounce of liquor, 6 ounces of wine or 8 ounces of beer). 11,2

14. Everyone is allowed some unstructured downtime every day (Everyone needs time to decompress but kids especially need time to use their imaginations and express free will. Studies show kids allotted more free time to be better problem solvers). 12

15. Kisses and hugs are dispensed often (Affection and bonding reduce blood pressure, produce “feel good” neurotransmitters that promote a sense of well being, children of affectionate families are better students and respond better to stress and lets face it, hugs feel great!). 13,14

16. Eat a minimal amount of prepacked and processed foods. The more fresh, whole ingredients the better. They are higher in nutrients and lower in calories and potentially harmful additives. 15

References & Further Reading
11. Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health, S.B. Roberts, Ph.D., M. B. Heyman, M.D.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

When the temperature starts to drop, I find my self yearning for the soothing, comfort foods of my youth. In particular, my grandfather’s recipe for vegetable beef stew. It’s rich, stick to your ribs hearty and since it is chock full of vegetables it’s also very healthy! This dish can be prepared stove top or in the crock pot, either way it fills the house with tempting aromas. This stew is very high in the anti-oxidants, Vitamins A and C, as well as Iron, Folate and fiber1. A meal that combines Iron with Vitamin C enhances Iron absorption and is a helpful trick if you need to increase your Iron intake. 2 The cabbage in this recipe is a Brassica vegetable, high in the anti-cancer substances diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium.3

Vegetable Beef Stew

Makes 12 (2 cup) servings

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time Stove top: 3 hours
Prep time: 20 minutes
Crockpot time: 4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low

1 ½ Lbs. Stew Meat
2 (14 oz.) cans low sodium tomatoes
½ head green cabbage, chopped
1 (32 oz) bottle low sodium v-8 Juice
2 cups sliced carrots
1 (14 oz.) can low sodium beef broth
1 large onion , diced
3 TBS olive oil (extra virgin, first cold press is best)
4-5 potatoes diced in ½ inch cubes
5 stalks celery, chopped
Pepper to taste

Heat large Dutch oven (or large heavy bottomed sauce pan) on medium high heat until hot add 1 TBS olive oil and brown stew meat on all sides (about five minutes total). Remove browned meat from skillet add remaining olive oil reduce heat to medium and add diced onion, celery and carrots.
Sauté onions, celery and carrots till browned but not tender (about five minutes). Add beef broth to pan and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan. Return beef to pot and all remaining ingredients except canned tomatoes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer stove pot for about 2 1/2 hours (alternative to stove top can be put in crock pot on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours). Remove lid at 2 1/2 hours and continue to simmer for 30 more minutes to thicken. Add tomatoes at end of cooking to heat through and serve.

Nutrition Info: Percent Daily Values Based on a 2000 calorie Diet
Serving Size: 2 Cups Vitamin A 90%
Calories 370 Vitamin C 90%
Total Fat 8 g Calcium 6 %
Sat. Fat 2.5 g Iron 20%
Trans Fat 0 g
Polyunsat. Fat 1 g
Monounsat. Fat 5g
Cholesterol 50 mg
Sodium 240 mg
Total Carbohydrate 38 g
Dietary Fiber 6 g
Sugars 11 g
Protein 29g

Nutrition Content Evaluated by Nutribase 7, Clinical edition.

1. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 22, No. 1, 18–35 (2003)
2. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, Supplement 1989;30:103-8
3. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 1999;472:159-68

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Plastic Water Bottles...Are They Safe?

The safety of plastic water bottles has recently come under scrutiny from consumers. The concern springs from a chemical called Bis-Phenol A, or BPA. BPA is commonly used in the production of polycarbonate plastics used for water bottles, food containers, baby bottles, dental sealants and electronics. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor which means that BPA can replace the bodies naturally occurring endocrines and disrupt their normal activities. Endocrines are hormonal chemical messengers released from the endocrine organs (pancreas, thyroid, adrenal, ovaries, testes...). Endocrines travel throughout the body and bind to receptors on other tissues, fitting much like a lock and key and then evoke a specific response on the target tissue. For example, at puberty the sex organs release the appropriate hormones to stimulate the physical development needed for adulthood. In boys, the testes are told to produce sperm, muscles are directed to get larger and bones become denser. Endocrine disruptors can interfere with this hormonal communication because they are able to bind to the receptor site intended for the endocrines.
In 1976 BPA was presumed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency and was accepted for use in food containers by the Toxic Substances Control Act, a law that regulates the use of industrial chemicals. BPA has been widely used since its introduction. In 1998, Patricia Hunt, a geneticist from Case Western Reserve University, raised concerns about BPA when she discovered that environmental exposure to BPA disrupted egg maturation in mice and demonstrated a dose-related increase in abnormalities at very low levels of BPA -levels considered plausible for humans. Hunt stated that “These studies raise important questions about the potential impact on human reproduction of BPA and other man-made substances that mimic the actions of hormones." With pressure from the public, BPA then came under scrutiny by various governmental agencies, including the FDA, but has consistently been deemed safe for use in consumer products intended for food contact. However, the scientific community continues to publish data that state otherwise. Including an new article slated to appear in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology by Nora Benachour, a researcher at the Laboratory of Research in Reproductive and Gestational Health in Quebec, Canada. Benachour found “that exposure of [human] placental cells to low doses of BPA may cause detrimental effects, leading in vivo to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, prematurity and pregnancy loss.” In April of 2008 the FDA created a BPA task force to evaluate the data from current research on BPA and is expected to release its findings at the end of November, 2009.
In the mean time what should the consumer do to minimize BPA exposure? Many researchers believe the greatest risk of detrimental endocrine disruption by BPA is during times of development, including in the womb, during infancy, childhood and at puberty. Canada already imposed a BPA ban in 2008 which prompted Canada Wal-Mart to pull BPA products off their shelves and production lines. The major US baby bottle manufacturers, Avent, Playtex, and Gerber, have all agreed to stop using BPA in their products. Until the FDA issues a more powerful statement the following steps can reduce your family’s ingestion of BPA.

• Look for BPA-free baby bottles
• Rely less on prepackaged foods( including microwavable plastics & canned goods)
• Heat microwavable foods in glass containers (BPA from heated plastics can migrate into food)
• Put to go beverages in portable stainless steel containers (Target & Costco carry a few brands,online try
• Avoid plastic water bottles (especially if allowed to get warm, which occurs after being left in a hot car)