Money Matters: Spanish Potato and Spinach Tortilla with Red Pepper Sauce

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I had a lot of trouble sleeping Wednesday night….I was nervous to speak about my blog to a group of dietitians yesterday. I was glad to hear the group would only be about 20…but I was still incredibly nervous.

Nicole, you used to lecture to college students for hours on end, multiple times a week…you got this.

It was fine, the presentation went great. As it ends up, I am the expert on the topic of MY blog (duh).

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People asked great questions and I even got to meet Emilie, a reader of my blog — so neat! Hi Emilie!

When I was done with my presentation, I asked if anyone was considering starting a blog and I was THRILLED to see several hands go up. Some women even stayed afterwards to run their ideas past me and swap contact information for future endeavors, blogging and nutrition-related.

Networking is powerful stuff and I am always up for widening my pool of colleagues within the field.

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During my presentation, I had one particular slide that received quite a few head nods of approval and agreement. The head nodding was most noticeable when I mentioned my “Money Matters” series and the fact that one of the goals I have for my blog is to help people understand that eating well doesn’t have to be expensive.

This recipe is kind on the pocket book and perfectly timed after yesterday. It doesn’t get more economical (or healthy!) than this meal!

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Spanish Potato and Spinach Tortilla with Red Pepper Sauce slightly adapted from Cooking Light

1/2 cup (3 oz) bottled roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained 1 Tbsp (1/4 oz) dry-roasted almonds, coarsely chopped 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided 1/8 tsp ground red pepper 1 garlic clove, crushed 8 oz red potatoes (about 2 medium), cut into (1/8-inch-thick) slices 1 cup water 2 Tbsp half-and-half 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 8 large eggs 2 large egg whites 3 cups baby spinach leaves

Directions:

Preheat broiler to high.

Combine bell peppers, almonds, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and garlic in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Set aside.

Combine the potatoes and 1 cup water in a skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 4 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Drain.

Combine half-and-half, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper, eggs, and egg whites in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Heat a 12-inch ovenproof or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add potatoes to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until browned. Add spinach; sauté for 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add egg mixture to pan; cover and cook for 4 minutes, gently shaking pan occasionally. Broil tortilla 4 minutes or until top is lightly browned and center is set. Cool slightly; serve with red pepper sauce.

Yield: 6 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 187 calories; 12.5 g. fat; 248 mg. cholesterol; 374 mg. sodium; 8.2 g. carbohydrate; 1.3 g. fiber; 11 g. protein

Result: I don’t know why this is called a tortilla…I would call it a frittata…but, whatever! The end result was good and Mr. Prevention-approved. I don’t think the egg “tortilla” itself had the wow-factor, but the Red Pepper Sauce was delicious — I love the addition of almonds and I actually knocked the garlic back just a bit. Because the garlic is raw, it is very strong, and I would’ve preferred it be more mild. This was quick, easy, would use up leftover potatoes perfectly, and can double as breakfast or dinner. Enjoy!

Money Matters: The roasted red peppers were on sale for $2/jar (I used about half). Eggs are ~$1.50/dozen ($0.13 each — $1.25). Spinach from CostCo was $7 for 2.2 pounds ($0.20/oz — $.50). Potatoes ($0.59/lb) came to $0.30 for 8 ounces and almonds ($7/lb) totaled $0.44/ounce and $0.11 per tablespoon. The remaining ingredients, including the olive oil, total ~$0.60. The total cost of the recipe comes to $3.76 and $0.63 per serving.

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 TGIF! Work, holiday party #2 for work, and grabbing a drink with a coworker! :) Happy weekend!

Be well,

Peach Lemonade

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Yesterday my alarm was set to go off at 6:15 — I had decided to “sleep in”. Of course, I was up at 5:40 and read emails until 6am in bed. I’m an early morning riser, but a new routine and new job have my brain racing 5,000 miles a minute and sleep hasn’t been as long or effortless as usual. I’m generally out within minutes, if not seconds, of my head hitting the pillow and sleep very soundly until my alarm goes off. In other words, I am sleep deprived and running on I-love-my-job adrenalin. No complaints.

I digress.

I was out of bed at 6 and making coffee and medicating Lily with antibiotics, hot spot powder, and gel for her eyes (do you know how hard it is to hold back the many wrinkles of a bulldog’s eyelid while trying to squeeze medication ONTO the eye with only two hands? This is why moms are rockstars). I did my 15 minutes of blogging, got dressed and ready, grabbed breakfast, gulped some coffee, set out my CSA box, and headed out the door with Lily who I then dropped at day care down the road.

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I got to work 20 minutes later than I was hoping, but still very much so timely…early, even! (::high five, self!::)

I shadowed some of my employees in an effort to figure out all of their duties. I then got to work with the supervisor and cook to figure out what we want to try on next week’s cafeteria lunch menu, per the request of the staff.

Drum roll, please. On next week’s menu (for Team Healthy) we have: lentil sloppy joes, Buttermilk Whipped Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, Baja Fresh Salsa, veggie fajitas (chicken and steak, too!), hummus plates with pita and veggies, and Salmon with Red Pepper Pesto. I am pretty pumped! Best part is, my staff are EXCITED to try new, healthier options, too!

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But anyways, work is busy. Really busy and the days fly by. When you’re in a kitchen or hospital, there is ALWAYS something going on. And the fact that I get to work with food and food service and STILL be a dietitian (and working with diabetics!) is so, so, so perfect for me. Yes, 3 so’s! Perrrfect!!

I had every intention of leaving work, swinging by the grocery store for a few items, and picking up Lily by 6pm which is their closing time, but I ran out of time. I stayed too late at work and had to forgo shopping to get her in time. I then proceeded home to find a way-too-chatty electrician working on our workout room who absorbed 45 minutes of my workout time despite my every effort to make him leave. I said everything other than, “Can you please leave?”, but he wasn’t taking a hint, or hints.

I managed a quick 3 mile run before dinner and shower and by the time I sat down, it was after 9pm. And my bedtime is 10…11. Oh my.

Let’s just say an adult cocktail was in order by that time. Which leads me to…peach lemonade. Incredible on its own, but even better with some peach vodka*!!

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Peach Lemonade slightly adapted from Cooking Light

4 cups water 4 peaches, roughly chopped 3/4 cup sugar 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 5-6 lemons) 4 cups ice

Directions:

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 20-30 minutes.

Place peach mixture in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Press peach mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving liquid; discard solids. Stir in lemon juice. Place 1/2 cup ice in each of 8 glasses. Pour lemonade into each glass.

Yield: 8 servings (2/3 cup each).

Nutrition Information (per serving*): 108 calories; 0.3 g. fat;  0 mg. cholesterol; 0 mg. sodium; 28.5 g. carbohydrate; 1.3 g. fiber; 0.8 g. protein

Result: Super fresh and refreshing! This was quick to make and a huge hit at a backyard barbecue. I left the vodka out so that people could enjoy with or without. Adding 1.5 ounces (a shot) of peach vodka to each serving adds about 100 delicious calories. I highly recommend it! With…or without, really. :-D Enjoy!

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You guys liked those zucchini brownies…I love it!

Be well,

RD Q&A

My house is starting to feel like a home. Mr. Prevention worked all day yesterday and I managed to unpack 60-70% of the boxes on my own. Here’s some shots of the…mayhem.

Before…
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During…

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 Let’s get on with the Q&A…just looking at those pictures is making me exhausted and stressed!

Cheryl: While at the health food store picking up some Satiereal Saffron Extract (Dr. Oz’s suggestion for natural appetite suppressant), I asked the owner if there was anything to supplement thyroid medication.  She suggested cold pressed, extra-virgin, coconut oil, 1 tsp 3x per day.  Told me that it helps with memory, cholesterol, weight loss, and some other things.  My concern is the calories.  She said when it is taken as a supplement, calories aren’t counted because it contains MLTs(?).  Is this true?  The label said 1 tsp is 125 calories.  She has customer’s that take it for energy and other benefits that have also lost weight.

Prevention RD: Hi Ceryl! :) I think she’s referring to medium-chain trigycerides (MCT’s) which is the main type of fat in coconut oil and why it is being touted as a “healthier” oil. While MCT’s are metabolized differently (check out this post for more info on that), the calories very much so still “count”. In fact, in a clinical setting, some patients are given MCT’s for quick energy (calories) and to assist in weight GAIN. Three teaspoons (1 tablespoon) is typically 120 calories. Certainly people can lose weight any number of ways – it all boils down to calories. As for the calories not “counting” – false! :)

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Nicole O.: Please explain the difference between and allergy and an intolerance. I have been having issues with this because I believe an allergy can be detected with a blood test, correct? But, what about an intolerance? Would an allergy have more severe reactions and an intolerance may not? Is an allergy inherited and an intolerance may just upset the system? Help! with the “gluten intolerance” craze sweeping the nation, I need to know. Also, some people with a lactose intolerance can tolerate soft serve or yogurt, but not ice cream…and so on…

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Gina, RD: I’d love to hear your opinion about; What is “too little” calories? And when do you go in “starvation” mode? I have an answer I like to give, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’ve read. So many people seem to think that even if they are overweight they can eat too few calories and then they will burn muscle…I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Heather of Southern Pink Lemonade: Could you describe the benefits/differences of palm/coconut sugar vs. white granulated sugar?

Prevention RD: Coconut sugar is getting famous for its low(er) glycemic index, meaning the energy (calories) are absorbed more slowly and the body does not see the quick spike in blood sugar that it may from other sugars (this spike can cause anything from fatigue to hunger). While this sounds positive, the glycemic index (GI) is not a very well-respected measurement for nutrition. What I love about coocnut sugar is that it has 1/3 less calories (30 calories/tablespoon vs. cane sugar’s 45 calories) and 7 grams of sugar per tablespoon vs. cane sugar’s 12 grams. In short, it’s lower carbohydrate. That said, recipes may call for more to offer up adequate “sweetness” and the reduced sugar content is then irrelevant. Coconut sugar is VERY expensive and in my very limited experience, does not “act” like sugar in baking. In short, it may offer a nutritional edge, but the cost, availability, and benefit may not make it worth the c0mmotion.

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Chrissy of Stick a Fork in It: What are your thoughts on flax seed, and what is the best form to consume it (whole, ground or oil)?

Prevention RD: I’m glad you asked! Whole flaxseed are NOT digested and therefore, no nutritional benefit is gained. Flaxseeds must be ground or their oil extracted to yield the nutrition. Flaxseed oil is expensive, so I usually opt for the ground seeds, but both are nutrition powerhouses and packed with omega 3 fatty acids. I love to use flaxseed oil in salad dressings and is there anything better than a warm flaxseed muffin with some dried fruit? Yum!

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That’s it for today. As always, please feel free to pass along your questions on the Prevention RD Facebook page, as a comment below, or via email at preventionrd at gmail dot com! Thanks for all the great questions! :-D

I have to run up to the hospital for my TB test and then it’s on to unpacking some  more. The family comes tomorrow…gotta be ready!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. Love you all to pieces! xo!

Be well,

National Registered Dietitian Day!

That’s right, today is National Registered Dietitian Day! Being an RD is so much of who I am on and off this blog. More than anything else, I get emails (almost daily!) of people with questions about what RD’s do, if the job market is good, what RD’s like and dislike about their jobs, and what other advice I could give to someone wanting to enter into the field of nutrition.

To begin, there is a difference — a big difference — between a Registered Dietitian and a “nutritionist”. The term “dietitian” is used synonymously with “Registered Dietitian” – meaning, that individual completed a 4-year degree in a CADE- accredited nutrition/dietetics program, went on to complete a CADE-accredited internship, and then passed the RD exam. At that point, someone is an RD. There are a lot of online courses and weekend courses, and even 4-year degrees in nutrition, that do not meet the CADE-accreditation standards for dietetics. These individuals are not eligible to proceed to a dietetic internship or sit for the RD exam. In short, “Registered Dietitians” are recognized as the nutrition professional that is educated and credentialed in nutrition…anyone else is a nutritionist. To take it a step further, anyone, legally, can refer to themselves a “nutritionist” – there is no legal bind to that title, unlike RDs.

Is the job market good? I believe yes. It is a fact that many RD’s-to-be have difficulty matching (being accepted to) internship programs because the demand exceeds the supply at this time. With rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases sky-rocketing, preventative medicine WILL come about. I don’t know when and I don’t know to what extent, but I do know that RD’s will play a huge role in helping relieve the obesity crisis our nation faces. And then there’s the aging Baby Boomer population that will increase the need for RD’s in long-term care.

When someone expresses interest in wanting to enter into nutrition, I think it’s only fair to give a realistic look into what many RD’s do because it’s not for everyone. Most RD’s, at least at some point, work in a clinical setting — a hospital, a dialysis unit…somewhere that works with ailing the very ill. With illness comes the need to know many aspects of medicine — medications, medical procedures, lab work, etc. I always like to point out that RD’s have EXTENSIVE training in diseases that many people wouldn’t correlate with the work of dietitians. I believe that one of the main reasons I enjoy my work as an RD is because I love medicine and I love being a part of a health care team. I work very closely with nurses and physicians and pharmacists every day.

I thought I would talk about some of the roles I have now and have had in the past to give an idea of what I do. Yes, I help people eat better to control their weight, diseases, or symptoms and side effects, but there’s certainly much more than that. I think I am blessed to have worked in so many unique and fulfilling jobs so early on in my career and I truly appreciate each opportunity for all that I’ve learned and been able to apply elsewhere.

I worked in a LARGE clinic in the middle of rural Oklahoma seeing patient in an out-patient setting. Our clinic was ambulatory and non-acute. I liked to refer to the clinic as a “one-stop shop” for health care. We had several physicians on staff (along with rotating specialties – podiatry, endocrinology, etc.), a full lab, 2 dietitians, 2 behavioral health counselors, a full pharmacy, radiology, and WIC…all in one big, beautiful clinic. My average day was spent in diabetes clinic where patients first had labs drawn, saw the physician, and then met with a dietitian, every 3 months. Due to the diabetes rates among Native Americans, we had THOUSANDS of patients. It was busy. I would help adjust insulin with the physicians, download and analyze blood glucose readings, and give diabetic nutrition education. On days we did not see diabetics, my schedule would fill with weight loss, fatty liver, hypertension, and other common diagnoses. I also headed the bariatric program at my clinic that was coordinated with the hospital and met with Lap-Band patients every 2 weeks for weigh-ins and diet analysis. If we hadn’t have moved from Oklahoma, I don’t know that I would’ve ever left this job!

I have been working in nephrology (kidneys) for the past 2 years. I work in several dialysis clinics where my patients come 3 days a week, for 3-5 hours, to run dialysis – a process of filtering the blood and removing toxins. The vast majority of my patients have kidney failure due to uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension. Due to the nature of dialysis, lab work is a huge part of what I do. My patients have labs drawn at least once months, and up to 4 times. The renal (kidney) diet is very challenging – my patients require a LOT of meat and eggs, and need to limit many foods, including milk, cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, nuts, chocolate, cola beverages, wheat, beans, potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, and fluid…just to name a handful. I am responsible for helping my patients eat right and control their labs through diet. I work closely with physicians to change medication orders, obtain medications, begin oral and IV nutrition supplementation, and am responsible for dosing their IV vitamin D. I love that I get to know my patients because I see the same individuals over and over, but dialysis can be challenging and sad — many of my patients die. There is a lot of paperwork and documentation involved and our team is responsible for completing full assessments, including nutrition assessments, on a regular basis.

I love teaching and have been teaching since December 201o. I teach nutrition “101″ for nursing and other non-majors, Medical Nutrition Therapy for the diet technician students (this is a 2-part class that goes over every disease state and the medical nutrition involved in treating that disease/condition), Nutrition Care Process for the diet technician students (this class gives an overview on “how to think like a nutrition professional” and the systematical means by which to assess and chart), and as of next quarter, I will be teaching the hands-on practicum for the diet tech students where we go in to long-term care settings and they actually interact with residents. I think practicing dietetics outside of the classroom enables me to share real-life experiences and stories with my students in the classroom. As someone who HATED to public speak, I lecture anywhere between 8 and 13 hours a week…and that’s just the talking! The prep-work involved in teaching is astronomical (though, enjoyable so long as there’s the time)…and I could sure do without the assignment, lab, exam, and quiz-writing and grading…but I guess that’s part of the gig. I feel very “at home” when I teach and I have loved every group of students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching….it is very rewarding.

I have a business partner, Donna, who is one of the most brilliant and tireless women I’ve ever met. Together, we have worked HARD to get a nutrition practice growing. Due to my time restraints, I have not been able to round-up as much private business as I would like, but we have had some great experiences. Last summer we ran an 8-week weight management group with 10 participants that was a huge success. Our main efforts have been tapping into the diabetic and chronic kidney disease populations because Medicare and many insurance companies reimburse for these diagnoses (we are just beginning to hear about weight management being covered by private insurances…you should check with your policy to see if RD services are covered, by the way!). The thing that limits dietitians is the need for a physician referral in order to see patients and this is what makes having a practice nutrition practice so challenging. Despite the many wonderful “connections” Donna and I have in the physician world, we are yet to find a consistent referral base from any physician. When will doctors 1) start referring their patients and 2) care enough to do so?

So, that’s a little bit about my past and present work. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and love feeling like I can make a difference in people’s lives. I have known since the age of 15 what I wanted to be and to be just as happy with that decision 11 years later is a testament to the love I have for nutrition.

If you’d like to show your resident dietitian some love today, please vote for Prevention RD to in the “Best Healthy Eating Blog” through Fitness Magazine. ;)

And Happy RD Day to all the RD’s out there!

Cheers,

Healthy (Low-Carb) Lasagna

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TGIF!

Yesterday was…stressful. But the most unfortunate part of yesterday was having to settle for a Subway dinner rather than leftover lasagna. I was 45 minutes away from home at my unit, Lily had been home for 8 hours already, I had to teach, and Mr. Prevention had a meeting. It was clear there would be no letting Lily out, or having leftovers for dinner. Why do meetings with doctors always run late?

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I know 3 very important things about this recipe.

  1. It’s incredibly healthy. A filling, protein and fiber-rich meal for under 250 calories?!
  2. It doesn’t photograph well. At all. Don’t base this recipe on looks alone – you’ll be missing out.
  3. I didn’t expect to like this recipe. And Mr. Prevention…forgetaboutit. This is what I love about recipe swaps…you try recipes that are outside your comfort zone.

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However, I was wrong, very wrong, on item #3.

Sometimes, there’s such a thing as “too healthy” (I promise, I’m a dietitian). When a recipe is scaled back to a point that it loses its desirable attributes, it may be “too healthy”. For lasagna to be good, it has to have “noodles”, cheese, and Italian spices. Or at least that’s what I like about lasagna.

But this recipe actually mastered the ultimate health-factor while maintaining the ultimate lasagna-factor. I did up the cheese a bit, and I not only used zucchini and squash, but I used twice as much. While not picture-perfect, this dish is absolutely delicious.

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Healthy Lasagna slightly adapted from Cooking for Fun

1 lb ground turkey breast 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 1/2 tsp dried basil 1/2 tsp dried oregano salt and pepper, to taste 1 small onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 large summer squash 2 zucchini 2 cups tomato sauce 2 cups 2% mozzarella, shredded

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a skillet cook the turkey, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, onion & garlic until the turkey is cooked through & the onions are translucent.

Using a mandoline, slice the squash and zucchini lengthwise into thin ribbons.

Spoon just enough tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Lay 1/3 of the zucchini and squash slices. Spoon 1/2 of the turkey mixture on top of the squash. Then top with 1/3 of the remaining tomato sauce & sprinkle with 2/3 cup of mozzarella. Add another layer of zucchini/squash slices, then the rest of the meat, 1/2 the remaining sauce & 2/3 cup of mozzarella. Use the last of the squash slices to make one more layer. Top with the remaining tomato sauce & mozzarella.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cheese is melted & brown & the sauce is bubbly. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing & serving. Yield: 6 large slices.

Nutrition Information (per slice): 237 calories; 7.2 g. fat; 67 mg. cholesterol; 801 mg. sodium; 12.5 g. carbohydrate; 3.5 g. fiber; 33 g. protein

Result: A 4-and-a-half star delight! This recipe far surpassed my expectations, and was most certainly Mr. P-approved. It reheats well and can certainly be made ahead of time. This dish is perfect for those looking for a low-carb “pasta” meal that is satisfying and filling. Note: when buying ground turkey, be sure to buy ground turkey breast (ground turkey includes things like turkey skin – bleck!). I hope you loves this meal as much as us…enjoy!

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Today will be a better day. But regardless, the weekend is drawing near! :-D

TGIF,