Holidays

Enjoying the Holidays….Without Guilt tips from a pro

We are days away from Halloween, which I think of as the gateway to the holiday season.  Many parties, get-togethers, work events, and other festivities will fill our time.  It is during this time we are often bombarded with articles and news stories related to “avoiding the holiday weight gain” or “healthy versions of traditional dishes.”  While these can provide us with good ideas and healthful recipes, they often aim to make us feel guilty for actually enjoying some holiday cheer.  I think we can be healthy, enjoy the holidays and all their traditions, and not feel guilty about it!

Here are some quick tips for enjoying your holidays, food and all!

  • Eat a healthy breakfast everyday.  Start your day with fruits, veggies, protein, and fat.  These foods will give you the energy to stay focused during this busy time of year.  
  • Meal plan!  If you have been following my posts for any amount of time, you know I am a huge advocate of planning your meals in advance.  This takes the stress out of weeknights while saving you time and money.
  • Drink water and lots of it. Period.
  • Move your body everyday.  Whether you hit the gym, walk the dog, wash the windows, or have a dance party- don’t stay still for too long.
  • Stock your fridge with easy to grab snacks.  Cut up veggies, fruit, and yogurt are great options.
  • Try to meet your daily fiber needs.  Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts can get you there easily.  Fiber will keep your GI tract (where a lot of our immune system lies) healthy and will also keep you feeling full longer.  There are many other fiber benefits you read about here
  • Enjoy your desserts and other treats.  Don’t think of these foods as “off limits.”  Often we label foods as good and bad, which can lead to a restriction-binge type of cycle.  Just enjoy your dessert and don’t feel guilty.
  • Listen to your body.  You will thank me for this one.  If you feel full, stop eating.  Why be in pain?  Enjoy your foods, but just be cognizant of when you are satiated.  If we slow down our eating, we are often more aware of the signals our body sends.
  • When at parties, scope out the food choices before you fill your plate.  Figure out what you really want and be sure to eat those choices first.  If you are still hungry, go back for your second choices later.  This way you will eat those foods you love and not feel the need to finish the second choice foods from your plate.
  • Consume alcohol during meals.  Also having a glass of water after each alcoholic drink works well.  These both slow the alcohol from hitting the bloodstream, keeping you sober longer!  And always- don’t drink and drive!

 

Go ahead, eat grandma’s stuffing and have a glass of eggnog!  Enjoy the traditions the holidays bring us.

Cheers,

Rachael

 

Food Allergy · kids

Allergy Friendly Halloween

The holiday season is about to begin, and that means many events and gatherings revolving around food.  For folks with food allergies, it can be extremely stressful to navigate through this all.  Halloween kicks it all off with the excess of candy, much of which is not allergy friendly.  Peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, egg, and soy are common components of many candies and 6 of the top 8 allergens.  Kids really enjoy dressing up and trick or treating with friends, but some kids with allergies are not even able to participate if their allergies are severe.  For those that do, they often can’t keep much of what they come home with.  School parties are another place that the non-allergy friendly treats come out.  While many of us parents have figured out how to handle these situations well, it seems like there could be a better way.

In an effort to promote a safe Halloween for all, FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) developed the Teal Pumpkin Project.  It is a way to draw awareness to food allergies and include all trick or treaters. Those who choose to participate put a teal pumpkin or teal pumpkin sign outside their door for Halloween.  This indicates that this house has non-food, allergy friendly treats.  Participants can even add their address to the map so that trick or treaters can plan out their routes.  This movement is getting bigger and bigger, and it is so encouraging!  Check out www.tealpumpkinproject.org for more information.

Here are some of my ideas for non-food Halloween treats:

Allergy Friendly Halloween

 

 

I know not every family has food allergies.  From those of us who do, I want to tell you how much we appreciate when you include our kids and learn about their allergies.  It gives these kids a feeling of community and belonging.  It gives us parents a feeling of safety and relief.  

So thank you, it means the world to us.

Rachael

 

Recipe

As American as….

Every year we make a trip right over the border to visit our favorite Wisconsin apple picking spot.  We load up on apples and cider doughnuts, say hello to the goats and visit the famous “Big Cheese.”

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It is a wonderful tradition shared with my husband’s family.  We get there as soon as it opens in the morning and get out before the crowds get out of hand and the bees attack.  There are always more apples than I intended so we eat a lot of apple dishes in September and October!

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Baking an apple pie is another part of the tradition.  I try to make the crusts the day before we go so we can have a homemade pie the same day we pick.  My lovely sister-in-law gave me an apple peeler/corer/slicer which makes prepping the apples go much quicker. I highly recommend using one if you have lots of apples that need peeling.

It is always a great day and a great way to welcome fall in our home.

The recipe I use is adapted from The Joy of Cooking, All About Pies and Tarts, cookbook.

 

 

Apple Pie

 

Health

Fiber for Your Health

Are you getting enough fiber?  How much is enough?  What foods contain fiber?

First of all, why do you need fiber?  Fiber can help reduce the risk of developing various diseases such as colon cancer, diabetes, constipation, obesity, and heart disease.  It can help lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and keep the GI system healthy.   It also helps you feel full longer. Ok, great- that all sounds good, but how much do I need to eat each day?  The recommendation is 21-25g per day for women and 30-38g per day for men from food, not supplements. Americans generally eat about 15g, so there is clearly room for improvement.

Let’s talk food sources.  It is best to get fiber from whole foods, not processed foods.  High fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Fiber 25-30g per day (1)

 

 

What foods give me the most bang for my buck? Beans are very high in fiber per serving.  However, if you are not used to eating beans in large amounts, take it slowly.  Gradually work yourself up to a full serving so that you do not experience bloating and gas.  Also note that when increasing dietary fiber, be sure to also increase your water intake. This will decrease gassiness and help move the fiber throughout the digestive tract.

 

High Fiber Foods

 

A good way to see if you are consuming enough fiber is by logging your foods for a few days, taking note of portion sizes and fiber intake.  You can do this by hand and calculate yourself, or use one of the many free online apps.  The USDA has one called super tracker that is user-friendly. If you are low in fiber, remember to increase slowly and also drink more fluids.   Check back later this week for a high-fiber soup recipe, just in time for fall!

Cheers!

Rachael

Farmers Market

National Farmers Market Week 2017

This week is National Farmers Market Week 2017!

Farmers markets are not just a trendy, passing craze.  These markets provide fresh, in-season, nutritious foods to their communities.  These farmers work very hard to bring these products to us because they see the importance of eating local, fresh food.  The time from field to market is very quick, often one to two days.  Compare this to the conventional produce that can be on trucks and shelves for many days to weeks.  Plants can start to lose nutrients from the time they are harvested, so the sooner you eat them, the more nutrients will be retained.  They also taste better!

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At the markets, you can meet the people who actually grew and harvested your food, where else can you do this?  These farmers will often give you ideas for recipes and educate you on the health benefits of their specific foods.  One of my local farmers recently turned me on to duck eggs- I had no idea that they made baked goods so light and fluffy!  Thanks to Trogg’s Hollow for that tip.  Now my kids only want pancakes made with duck eggs!

There are many reasons to support farmers markets, besides the nutritional benefits.  Here is a graphic that explains it very well:

 

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Join me in supporting your local farmers markets this week.  For my local friends, come visit me at the Huntley Farmers Market this Saturday from 8-1.  There are lots of events and activities to celebrate this week, should be fun!   Check out more here: Huntley Farmers Market

Cheers!

Rachael

Recipe

Summer Sweet Corn Salad

Sweet corn is in season and we have been seeing roadside stands pop up all over the place.  So yummy and so nostalgically summer.  I hope you are supporting your local farmers and picking a few ears.  I stopped by the local Huntley Farmer’s Market and picked up my ingredients from Johnson MicroFarm, Trogg’s Hollow and Providence Farm. I do love the traditional corn on the cob, but here is a recipe with a few more ingredients to brighten your dinner table.  Enjoy!

Recipe for Sweet Corn Salad

4 ears of sweet corn, cooked

1 medium tomato

1/4 c diced zucchini

handful microgreens

1T extra virgin olive oil

2t white wine vinegar

1/2t salt

pinch of pepper

1/2t garlic powder

 

 

Cut corn off the cobs.  Diced tomato and add to corn.  Mix in diced zucchini.  Set aside.  Combine oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Pour over corn mixture.  Add microgreens and basil on top and lightly toss.  Delicious!

Family Feeding · Food Allergy

Family-style Meals with Food Allergies: Part 2

To the many families living with food allergies, this post is for you.  I want to discuss different ways to address serving dinner in a family-style way when you have food allergies to deal with.  I understand that there are so many different situations out there and many ways that people deal with them.  What works for one family will not for another.  This is why I want to give several options.

First a talk on family-style meals.  What does it mean and why do I recommend it?  A family-style meal is when you serve food on the table.  Each person selects what they want and how much they want on their own.  Everyone serves themselves.  This is an important activity.  It teaches children table skills and manners.  It also presents food in a non-pressure environment.  Nobody has to take something they do not want to.  I know all you vegetable pushers are freaking out here, but listen.  Over time, this method is much more successful in developing healthy, diverse eaters, than forcing children to eat specific foods.  Do not be confused though.  I am not suggesting you cater to your children and serve them whatever they want- no, no, no!  You decide on the meal and serve it.  They decide how much they want to eat and what they want from what you offered.  This may mean they eat only pasta one night and hamburger the next.  It’s ok.  This is how they learn to try foods and listen to their hunger signals.  As long as you are providing healthy meals in a non-pressure setting, you have done your job.

As far as food allergy families go, family style eating can be more tricky.  I will first touch on the safest route. This means you avoid all allergens of anyone in your house.  If there are peanuts, fish and egg allergies, there are none of those items in your home.  Nobody consumes these.  Your home is a “safe” place for everyone.  This is especially ideal when young children are in the home and you are concerned about accidental exposure. In this instance, serving a family style meal should be straightforward.  Since all the foods are safe for everyone, any person can choose what they like from what is offered.

Another option is to allow foods that some family members are allergic to on your table.  This will likely result in having 5-7 food options at every meal to accommodate everyone.  This may not be appropriate if you have severe allergies and/or small children who can accidentally take an allergenic food.  I would recommend this for families who have a variety of food allergies that become overly restrictive when you remove all the foods that everyone is allergic to and also for those who are comfortable keeping food allergen foods in their home.  This is not for everyone.  This is also an opportunity for older children to interact with their allergic foods as they will have to do this outside of the home.  It is good for them to learn to identify their allergens and avoid them.

The third option is a bit of a hybrid between the two listed above.  This would mean permanently excluding certain foods (severe allergens) but allowing others.  I will give an example from my own house.  Our allergens include peanuts, tree-nuts, shrimp, pork, turkey, eggs, chicken as well as a dairy intolerance.  We never buy peanuts or shrimp.  While the kids have never had an anaphylactic reaction to either, they did react enough that we think they have no place in our home.  At dinner, we do eat chicken about 6 times a month.  The child who is allergic to chicken either eats multiple side dishes or a protein he can tolerate.   He knows he can’t eat it and has no desire to even touch it.  This works for us but it is a family by family decision.  I am very comfortable with my kids’ knowledge of their allergies and how to treat others with allergies different than their own (hand and face washing after eating, etc.)

I want to stress that all of these options are ok.  Every family has to decide what works for them.  Read this information from FARE regarding this here.  If having allergens in the house makes you a nervous wreck, do not do it!  If there have been severe reactions in the past, I also do not recommend keeping allergens in the home.  Unfortunately, past reactions do not necessarily predict future reactions.  Mild reactions in the past may still become anaphylactic in the future.  Again, if you do not feel comfortable, do not do it, it’s not worth it.  Always consult with your allergist and hopefully a registered dietitian nutritionist, who can help you navigate your specific food allergy situation.

Disclaimer
Rachael Costello, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian. The materials and content contained on this site (www.RachaelCostelloNutrition.com) are for general educational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Persons with serious medical conditions should consult a physician before beginning or modifying any diet, exercise or lifestyle program. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.