Tag Archives: nutrition

8 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening

Little Girl Gardening

According to the World Health Organization, good health means more than just the absence of bad health symptoms. It means the presence of positive emotions, quality of life, sense of community and happiness.  (WHO 1948)

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Moroccan Carrot Salad

Menu Images-8

See that beautiful orange creation in the middle of the plate above? That’s the cool and delicious Moroccan Carrot Salad we serve at Kardia Cafe, located in our brand new, state-of-the-art NC Heart and Vascular Hospital.

It’s bright and tangy and takes you on a flavor journey with twists and turns. And now you can make it at home! Go ahead! Impress your loved ones with this winning side dish.

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Pumpkin is the New Black


Jayne VecchioJayne is a graduate of Virginia Tech and is currently a Dietetic Intern through Meredith College, working with REX Nutrition Services and REX Diabetes Education Center.

Pumpkins are nutrition-packed vegetables that seem to be underrated for the majority of the year- until fall rolls around. As you may have noticed, pumpkin is currently taking over grocery stores and coffee shops and the smell of pumpkin spice lingers in the air.  It is high in fiber, low in sugar and fat, and contains many micro-nutrients the body requires to function.

Here are some of the main nutrients pumpkin provides:

  • pile of pumpkinsVitamin A – aids in vision (1 cup mashed pumpkin contains more than 200% RDI)
  • Vitamin C – can help boost immune system
  • Beta carotene – a powerful antioxidant that helps fight disease
  • Fiber – keeps you fuller longer and can aid in weight loss
  • Phytosterols – Can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
  • Tryptophan – an amino acid that helps calm and relax body

One of my favorite ways to get in the fall spirit is incorporating pumpkin into baking.  Simply adding of a cup of pumpkin puree to recipes is as a more nutritious way to enjoy a sweet treat (in moderation)! Pick up a can of pumpkin (or a pie pumpkin to steam if you prefer the old-fashioned way) at your local grocery store and try this recipe this weekend:

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

pumpkin banana muffinsIngredients:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425° and line a muffin tray with liners.
  • In large bowl microwave butter until melted, about 15-20 seconds, then add the bananas and mash. Add the sugar and pumpkin. Stir well.
  • Stir in the egg and vanilla.
  • Mix in pumpkin spice, cinnamon, flour, salt, and baking soda.
  • Spoon evenly into a muffin tin

Bake for 5 minutes at 425°, then reduce the heat to 350° and bake for 15-16 more minutes. Baking them at the higher temperature at first helps them rise and gives a nice rounded top.  Remove from tin and allow to cool then enjoy!

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Chicken, Farro and Kale Tacos with Butternut Squash Pico De Gallo

Last month, Rex On Call featured Ryan Conklin, an executive chef at UNC REX and
Shelly Wegman, a registered dietitian of Rex Nutrition Services to discuss healthy eating habits. In addition to the Q&A session, Chef Ryan Conklin demonstrated a healthy taco and salsa recipe.CWNF30SXAAAVP-n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken, Farro and Kale Tacos with Butternut Squash Pico De Gallo

  • Taco Filling
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 T Diced Onion
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • ¾ Cup of Shredded Kale
  • ¾ Cup Cooked Farro
  • ¾ Cup of Cooked Chicken Breast (Supermarket rotisserie chicken works great!)
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Ground coriander

Heat up the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook about 2-3 minutes, or until they turn translucent in color. Add the shredded kale & sauté. When the kale starts to wilt, add cooked farro, and pulled chicken. Season with Cumin, Coriander, and salt & pepper, and cook on low heat for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Butternut Squash Pico De Gallo

  • ¾ Cup Small diced Butternut Squash-
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • ½ Cup of Diced Fresh Tomatoes
  • 2 T Cilantro
  • 1T Minced Red Onion
  • 1 Fresh Lime (Juiced)
  • 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt-small pinch
  • Black Pepper- to taste
Toss squash with olive oil, and spread on small sheet tray. Place squash into a preheated oven at 375°, cooking them for about 7 minutes (or until cooked through depending on the cut size.) Remove from the oven, and cool. In a small bowl, mix the squash with the remaining ingredients, and let marinate for at least one hour before serving.

Catch up on the latest Rex On Call segment on healthy eating.

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Cucumber Salad

Low-fat yogurt, vinegar and dill give this cucumber salad plenty ofCucumberSalad zip!

Number of servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber (large, peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed (optional)
  • 1 dash pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Peel and thinly slice cucumber.
  2. Mix all other ingredients in the mixing bowl.
  3. Add cucumber slices and stir until coated.
  4. Chill until serving.

Per serving: 90 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 15 mg sodium.

Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recipefinder.nal.usda.gov.

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Your Farmers Market Guide

FarmersMarket

You’ve heard, “Eat your fruits and vegetables,” since childhood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s good advice. Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. With more farmers markets taking root across the U.S., buying fresh is easier than ever. Choosing produce in their natural growing season ensures value, freshness and nutrient density.

Locally grown trends
In a recent survey*, the majority of respondents said they:
• Go to a farmers market once a week
• Spend less than $10.
• Want to support local agriculture.

4 shopping tips
1. Go in the morning for the best selection, but go at the end of the day for the best deals.
2. Don’t just take advantage of the produce. Explore the baked goods, crafts and more.
3. Bring your own bags for easier shopping and environmental friendliness.
4. Plan for spontaneity—trying new things, like zucchini blossoms, is part of the fun.

Rex is a proud sponsor of multiple farmers markets in Wake County, including:

  • Downtown Raleigh Farmers Market
  • Holly Springs Farmers Market
  • Zebulon Farmers Market

Find a farmers market near you! Check out the USDA’s Farmers Market directory.

*Source: USDA Outdoor Farmers Market Dot survey 2011.

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Summer Breeze Smoothie

CaptureSmoothieThis smoothie is loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals for a low-calorie (and great-tasting) treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yogurt, plain, nonfat
  • 6 medium strawberries
  • 1 cup pineapple, crushed, canned in juice
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ice cubs
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Place all ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth. Serve in frosted glass.

Number of servings: 3. Per serving: 121 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 64 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 483 mg potassium.

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

 

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Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Chicken Tenders

Susan Ramsay (intern)-1Susan Ramsay is a Dietetic Intern at the Rex Wellness Center. She currently attends North Carolina Central University.

Getting kids to embrace healthy food choices can be a challenge! To start the process, try re-making some of their favorite foods with healthy substitutes. When they recognize the food they’ll be more likely to try it and won’t miss the added sugar, salt and fat that is usually added to fast food. These chicken tenders are crunchy and crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. They’re a delicious guilt free version of the classic. The tenders are coated in panko breadcrumbs and baked, instead of fried, which greatly reduces the overall fat and calorie content found in regular chicken tenders. The fiber in whole wheat slows the digestion of carbohydrate and provides vitamins and minerals not found in refined grains. You can serve them with your favorite condiment and kids and adults alike will love this twist on a classic comfort food.

Chicken

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 1/4 lb. (about 8) chicken tenders

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet lined with foil. Coat with cooking spray.
  2. Place the whole wheat flour in a medium bowl. In a shallow container, whisk together the eggs and Dijon mustard. In a separate shallow container, combine the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  3. Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Next, dip in the egg mixture until the chicken is coated. Last, roll the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, completely coating the outside.
  4. Transfer the chicken tenders to the prepared wire rack.
  5. Lightly coat the chicken tenders with cooking spray. Bake until the chicken is just cooked through and the breadcrumbs are starting to brown, 5 to 6 minutes per side.
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Comparing the DASH and the Mediterranean Diets

Jennifer OzkurtJennifer Özkurt is a Dietetic Intern at the Rex Wellness Center. She currently attends Meredith College.

MedDiet

According to the CDC, hypertension (high blood pressure) affects 70 million Americans. It’s a condition which can lead to weakening of the arteries, stroke, and heart and kidney disease if is not controlled. High blood pressure is a measured blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Shockingly, one out of three American adults has prehypertension, which is blood pressure higher than normal between 120/80 to 140/89 mmHg. Many American do not have this condition under control, increasing their chances of developing hypertension.

The typical American diet of over processed foods and eating on-the-go affects one’s chances of developing hypertension. Research has shown that healthy lifestyle changes such as a low sodium diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, along with moderate physical activity, can lower and prevent the development of these conditions. Here we will compare two of the most proven dietary approaches for preventing hypertension and improving ones dietary health, the DASH and Mediterranean diets.

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

The DASH Diet was developed as a dietary approach to lower blood pressure without the use of medication and has been proven useful for weight loss. It reduces sodium consumption, and promoting an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. These foods provide an abundant source of nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which have lowering effects on blood pressure.

The Dash Diet plan was developed with everyone in mind, and it is a therapeutic meal plan that can be easily adapted for a lifetime of healthy eating. The overall goal of this dietary approach is to encourage lifestyle changes which promote healthy dietary behaviors. You can choose from two plans based on individual need. Version one allows for 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. The second is for 1500 mg of sodium per day and is promoted by the American Heart Association. It’s the recommended diet for adults 51 years of age or older, African Americans, or for those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Mediterranean Diet

In the 1970s, it was concluded in the landmark Seven Country Study that a so called “peasant diet” consumed throughout the Mediterranean had a beneficial effect on heart health and other co-morbidities. It was determined that dietary fats, such as saturated fat, contributed to the development of heart disease. The traditional Mediterranean diet was introduced in 1993 by the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organizations as a lifestyle change to be used as a prevention strategy for heart disease, in addition to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Like the Dash Diet, although its distinction includes the title of diet, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle change, which encompasses healthy eating patterns. It encourages eating more whole foods packed with nutrients and less of heavily processed and refined foods. Due to variations among countries throughout the Mediterranean, recommendations include multiple versions from the traditional plan to the new Mediterranean pyramid.

Side-by-Side Comparison

When looking at a side-by-side comparison of the Mediterranean diet compared to the DASH diet plans they vary slightly in whole grains, fruit and vegetable servings per day. However, the Mediterranean diet differs greatly in the amount of fish, lean meat, and sweets consumed. Red and processed meats come with the lowest serving recommendations per week of two or less, or in some cases, these meats are only recommended at one to two servings per month. In addition, two or more servings of fish, the use of olive oil in food preparation at each meal, and a daily serving of nuts are encouraged on a Mediterranean diet plan.

Benefits of Adherence to Either Diet

  • Reduces hypertension as much as seven to 12 points, over time.
  • Improves weight loss outcomes
  • Reduces hypertension by four points with every 10 pounds of weight loss.
  • Reduces primary and secondary cardiovascular risk
  • Reduces the inflammation response in the body
  • Helps lower risk for osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Take Home Message

Both the DASH and Mediterranean Diets promote healthy lifestyles, which includes both physical and nutritional health. If you have hypertension, talk with your doctor or a dietitian to explore your current diet and lifestyle.

Do your homework! There are many books and online resources for you to learn more about these diets and recipes.

Remember, when making a change to your diet, start with one behavior that you would be willing to change. Change should come gradually to allow for the behavioral modification to take place. For instance, you may have considered switching from white bread to whole grain breads. Give yourself a start date and an end point to reassess your ability to make this change. Ask yourself what barriers kept you from meeting your goal or expectation. More importantly, forgive yourself if and when set-backs occur, but analyze why the setback occurred and then continue where you left off.

For more information or if you are having trouble making dietary changes, make an appointment to talk to a registered dietitian. A dietitian can provide counseling and tips to help guide you on diet strategies and maintaining a healthy diet long-term.

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Navigating Nutrition Noise

Ashley HoneycuttAshley Honeycutt, RD, LDN is the Manager of Corporate and Community Services for Rex Wellness Centers. She blogs about nutrition, wellness & healthy living.

Health_800Diet advice can be confusing, conflicting and overwhelming. Almost daily, you hear about a new study that contradicts the one you heard the week before. New studies gain traction in the media and spread like wildfire. You search the internet to read more about what you just heard on the news and you become even more confused. You may worry that you’re making the wrong decision for you and your family, sometimes becoming fearful or feeling guilty about your food choices. There is SO MUCH information and “advice” out there. Some of it intentionally causes fear and confusion in order to sell a product or message.

Know that real science takes time. Our opinions should not change overnight based on what we hear on the news. Numerous studies need to occur and results need to be replicated in order to make educated conclusions. Many “studies” you hear about in the media fail to replicate. Slow-moving science isn’t fancy and doesn’t garner media attention. Controversy always sells.

Healthy eating shouldn’t be controversial, fancy or cause fear. Turn off the TV and stop searching unreliable web resources. Instead, seek the expert, science-based advice of a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians have done the research for you. We can show you what to believe and what to ignore. We can help you incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle without fear or confusion.

Rex Wellness Centers offer private nutrition counseling for weight loss, food allergies, chronic disease management and much more. Contact us today to get started.

Not sure about seeing a Registered Dietitian? Check out these 10 reasons for why you should visit a RD.

Are you diabetic? Our Certified Diabetes Educators at the Rex Diabetes Education center can help you manage your blood glucose levels through proper diet and exercise. Contact us today to learn more.

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