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Guest Blog: Three Ways to Spice Up Weeknight Meals



Preparing a healthy dinner every night is a chore for many, especially after a long day at work. But the truth is that putting together a nutritious meal can be easy and quick with a little creativity. Salads topped with grilled chicken are great, but when you feel the need to change things up, give these suggestions a try. They are sure to add an extra helping of excitement to your next weeknight meal!

1. Use Condiments Creatively!

Dry herbs, spices and condiments can transform the most “standard” ingredients into flavor-packed dishes. With spices, you get great flavor as well as the added benefit of antioxidants that can help protect against certain diseases! Here are some winning combinations:
 
● Season your protein with a mix of 1 tbs. each garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and salt w/1 tsp. each of black pepper, celery salt and dried oregano.

● Make a zesty marinade for chicken or fish using Dijon mustard, crushed garlic and chopped capers. Garnish the prepared dish with minced parsley. Another great combination of herbs and spices is a marinade made of lime juice, cumin powder, chili powder and chopped cilantro.

● Did you know that salsa makes a great salad dressing? Use 2-3 tbs of fresh salsa on of a bed of greens topped with red onions, grape tomatoes, green peppers, ½ cup of black beans and 1-2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese. Fresh salsa can be found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.

2. Play with Your Food!

Have a little fun and change up the way you serve food. Lettuce wraps are a great “vehicle” for stir-fried chicken or shrimp with veggies such as carrots, cabbage and broccoli. Skewers are another kitchen essential for creative food presentation. Alternate vegetables such as bell peppers and zucchini with cubes of chicken or firm fish such as tuna or salmon on wooden skewers and grill outside or on a cast iron grill pan. Serve with a yogurt based dipping sauce such as Tzatziki. This is a dish kids will love too!

3.Have Breakfast for Dinner!

●Think eggs are can only be scrambled or served sunny-side up? Think again.  The incredible egg is actually one of the most versatile and healthy foods on the planet. Add nutrition to its natural protein content by throwing in fiber-packed artichokes and black beans to make a frittata that is a complete meal. To cut back on fat content, use 1 whole egg with 4 egg whites.

●Eggs in Purgatory are another great dish that’s quick, healthy and delicious. Put your own twist on it by adding your favorite vegetables and seasonings. I enjoy a combination of mushrooms, chopped olives, dried oregano and a tablespoon of low fat feta cheese. Serve with a side salad for a light weeknight dinner.
 
●You can also take pancakes “out-of-the-box” by turning them savory. Use any high fiber pancake mix and add healthy ingredients such as fresh corn kernels and chopped spinach. Other delicious combinations include Asian-inspired pancakes using cubed tofu and scallions as well as an Italian style version with roasted red peppers, part-skim mozzarella and chopped basil. Enjoy! 


This Guest Blog was written by Dafna Chazin (pictured, right), who is a registered dietitian with Virtua’s The Center for Nutrition and Weight Management. She currently provides nutrition services at Virtua’s Medically-Supervised Weight Loss clinic, which offers a comprehensive approach to weight loss. In addition, she consults individuals pursuing bariatric surgery and teaches numerous education classes on a variety on nutrition-related topics. Dafna is passionate about wellness promotion, healthy cooking, weight management and maternal and child nutrition. She holds a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and has been an active member of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2007.


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Guest Blog: 5 Tips to Stop that Weight Loss Rollercoaster



Reaching your goal weight can be equated to the pause in the middle of a roller coaster. You’ve reached your weight loss goal and you’ve been on this roller coaster before. Can you keep it off and stop the roller coaster?  Here are some tips to get you on solid ground.

Develop a maintenance plan ASAP!  Create or find a structure to keep you from sliding back into your old eating habits and support you in moving forward confidently. One idea is to figure out what your daily caloric intake should be to maintain this new weight. This calculator will estimate how many calories you need based on your gender, age, weight and activity level; use it as your guide.  Or make a daily eating plan so that you have a road map and don’t go off course.  Whichever approach you choose — one of these or another of your own choosing — it will take practice to make it habit.  The good news is that it will become second nature after a while, and one way to do it is going through the S.T.A.R Plan® - Steps To Avoid Regain.

Develop a mantra (or two).  Your mindset is one of the biggest keys to your success. Choose two or three mantras and repeat them to yourself throughout the day.  You might want to try “Maintaining my weight is easier than losing weight.”  Or “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.”  “I am eating for my health” may encourage you to make healthier choices.  When tempted to have that extra piece of cake, you can also remind yourself what you like about being this current weight.

Find motivators to stay on track.  Plan a trip where you have to wear a bathing suit.  Shop for new clothes that look good and admire yourself when you wear them. (A little vanity doesn’t hurt anyone.) Find other motivators that work for you.

Stock up on healthy snacks.  Pack a piece of your favorite fruit, a handful of nuts or a tasty yogurt so you have a satisfying snack for when hunger hits, wherever you may be.  This will support you in avoiding the vending machine or the sweets in the office lunch room. Robard provides a variety of portion controlled protein snacks that can be ideal to stay away from those vending machine cravings.

Weigh Yourself Daily.  Best way to know if you are gearing up to ride that roller coaster again is to keep a close eye on your weight. If you gain a pound or two, reset your weight by going back on your diet until you return to your goal weight.

Exercise is the magic pill.  It’s not a pill, but being active does make it easier to stay on track.  You burn more calories, your metabolism gets a boost and your appetite is suppressed for a while after you exercise.  You also feel good about yourself.  It doesn’t have to be every day and it doesn’t have to be strenuous. Choose any activity you enjoy. I have a friend who exercises every other day and has for years.  She says she looks forward to it on the off days and looks forward to the off days after she exercises.  That has helped her stay motivated for the long term. Find your formula.

We all know that we need more than willpower for the long haul. Use these tips to help build a support structure for your long time weight loss success, and if you are at the beginning of your weight loss journey and would like some assistance fill out our brief Find a Clinic form and we will locate a center near you!



This Guest Blog was written by Sima Michaels Dembo, MPH (pictured, right), who is a health care consultant and writer in North Bethesda, MD. She writes on nutrition, weight loss, exercise and other health care topics.  She is the principal of SMD Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in writing on timely health care issues for lay and professional audiences.


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Researchers Offer a New Look at Nutrition



We generally judge healthy foods by the nutrition it holds, and we decide how healthy our diet is by the nutrients we take in. We consider nutrients a rather linear concept; we either take in enough or we don’t — and if we don’t its lack of presence in our bodies could result in an ailment. This way of thinking seems rather logical… on the surface.

Some researchers think we are looking at nutrition completely wrong, and have proposed an alternative way to look at it. First let’s look at what they think is the problem, which is how we view nutrition now. We generally view nutrients on a singular basis, such as how many carbs are we getting, or how much fat, or sugar. Researchers believe the issues that we face on a nutrient basis are more complex than the singular nutrient model that we follow now. Its lack of complexity isn’t keeping up with foods that contain blends of nutrients as well as how mixtures of nutrients affect us.

Now for the solution: Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre created a new framework on how we look at nutrition that considers how mixtures of nutrients and other dietary components influence health and disease, as opposed to just focusing on a singular nutrient at a time. Researchers call this “nutritional geometry,” and they believe it’s the future of how we view human nutrition.

“Our new approach provides a unique method to unify observations from many fields and better understand how nutrients, foods and diets interact to affect health and disease in humans,” says Professor David Raubenheimer, who heads the Nutrition Theme at the Charles Perkins Centre.

It’s a unique concept for unique problems — specifically obesity. This approach doesn’t just look at one nutrient, but rather how that one nutrient interacts with others and how our bodies interact with that. The researchers’ goal with this is to look at issues such as obesity from multiple angles with the hopes of being able to produce solutions that will have optimal benefits.

As noble as that may sound, it may sound excessive to some. Yes, it may be beneficial to offer new ways to see a problem, but for many when it comes to being overweight it could be because of over-consumption in general or over-consumption of the wrong foods. The issue of overeating or make bad food choices can be solved, even if it’s easier said than done. However, with a change in our nutrition labels on the horizon, this may be a welcomed accompaniment to we view what we eat in the future.

Source: University of Sydney

Blog written by Marcus Miller/Robard Corporation


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