Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'll Have What She's Having

"That's me inbetween a dietitian's two favorite kinds of people- a chef and a farmer! Executive Chef Johannes of Old Edward's Inn, Highlands, NC and Farmer Lee of Chef's Garden in Ohio."

Dietitian’s Tips on Healthy Eating Out

Ever been out to dinner with a dietitian? I must confess, sometimes it can be a lesson in best practices for becoming a “high maintenance” customer reminiscent of the deli scene in the 80’s hit movie When Harry Met Sally when the character Sally, played by Meg Ryan, was very particular about her order for pie a la mode, “I’d like the pie heated, and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side. And I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla. If not then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real. If it’s out of a can, then nothing. Just the pie, but then not heated.”
You’ve got to admit that Sally knew what she wanted and was very specific about the details. “I’ll have what she’s having,” as another deli customer commented in the scene. (But, as movie buffs know, not exactly in response to the pie!)

I’m a registered dietitian and attempt to eat as healthfully as possible and share guidance on the topic in this column but while dining out during the American Dietetic Association’s annual conference in Denver, I was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm of my nutrition minded colleagues as they maneuvered the menu. There were impassioned pleas for splitting entrees, sauce on the side, spinach steamed not creamed, salads sans croutons and probing questions about how much oil is brushed on the broiled fish. So, here’s a round up real life dining out advice from registered dietitians in Atlanta.
Before You Go:
“Many chain restaurants offer nutritional information on the web and many of my clients also use iPhones and can look up calorie information.” Cheryl Orlansky, RD Georgia Dietetic Association Media Spokesperson
-“I believe that “knowing our intent” is often crucial in making decisions; so I suggest to clients that they take a few seconds before they go into the restaurant to remind themselves of how they want to handle this eating out excursion. That intent can then become their mission statement for that meal. They can then leave the restaurant feeling good about themselves and their ability to stick with their intention.” Terry Hill, RD, Nutrition for Living.

For Starters:
-“Start with soups - not creamy of course! It's a great starter/appetizer that is usually low in calories. Absolute favorite is California Pizza Kitchen Split Pea and Barley Soup. It's low in fat, low in calories and loaded with fiber.” Rachel Brandeis, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian

-“When at the restaurant bar place an order for water at the same time as you are placing an order for your favorite alcoholic drink. While you have the bartender's attention include a high protein, low carbohydrate, low fat appetizer like shrimp cocktail.” Victoria Quaid Weaver MS RD Atlanta Health & Medical Center
-“Ask the wait staff to remove, or better yet, never bring to the table the ‘free foods’ such as bread and chips. You can consume hundreds of calories before you even get your main dish.” Kimberly Glenn, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian in private practice
-“Order an appetizer for your entree with a side salad to start, don't go starving!” - Molly Paulson MS, RD Registered Dietitian

On the Side:
-“Choose only one starch when dining out. If you want the bread, skip the potato, if you want the chips, skip the beans and rice.” Rachel Brandeis, MS, RD
-“Always ask questions of the wait staff. Most chefs add extra butter even when not necessary. When dining recently, I ordered the local organic string beans on the side (instead of the fries), they came drenched in butter which was all I could taste. When questioning the waiter he replied that “our chef loves to add butter to everything”! If I had only used my own healthy dining out tip! Cheryl Orlansky, RD Georgia Dietetic Association Media Representative
- “Order no ketchup or sauce (at McDonald’s) and substitute Mild or Hot Picante Sauce. I sometimes mix it with mustard.” Victoria Quaid Weaver MS RD
-“Challenge yourself to make the meal as colorful as possible by ordering fruits and vegetables.” Kortney Parman, RD, Emory School of Nursing

The Main Event:
-“Never assume grilled, baked or broiled means without butter or oil. Last week I ate at the Atlanta Hyatt Regency restaurant Avanzare. Their portion sizes were reasonable and the best part was the food was great but nothing was swimming in sauce or butter. I was surprised when my dish arrived as the presentation was beautiful and the asparagus was delicious yet not soaked in anything.” Marie Spano, MS,RD Sports Nutritionist
-“Portion sizes are wicked. Share an entree or ask the server to put half of your meal in a to- go container right away and bring you the other half to eat at the restaurant.” Carren Sellers, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator

I'll have what she's having !

Friday, January 8, 2010

Just wondering....about your personal food trends.

Just wondering.......

Do you find yourself leaning toward the vegetarian entrees on the menu even though you’re not a fulltime vegetarian?

Are you steering away from super salty foods?

When shopping for packaged foods do you prefer those with a short list of ingredients?

Do you still order burgers every once in a while, but insist on a really good one?

If your answers are “yes” to any of these questions then it’s possible you’re being watched by researchers who forecast food trends. Of course, there are still powerful forces driving the bus toward over-the-top indulgences such as deep fried macaroni and cheese or mile high chocolate cakes. That’s why so many Americans are still so overweight. But, on the other side of the scale (literally) there’s a strong list of consumer trends which indicate more folks are choosing healthier foods so they can be healthier, too.

Flexitarian is the new Vegetarian- Where’s the beef? Well, maybe you only eat it once a week. Some people are even calling themselves “social carnivores”- they only eat meat when they’re dining out with friends or invited to a dinner party. 2010 will see continued creativity in vegetable side dishes and vegetarian entrees as more diners choose to eat this way more often.

Naturally Good –Even though natural can mean a lot of things and it’s not always a good thing ( salmonella and snake venom are natural) consumers are getting tired of buying foods and beverages gussied up with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that nature didn’t put there. HealthFocus International found that nearly 90% of shoppers believe it’s more important to eat food naturally rich in nutrients instead of fortified or enriched. That means cottage cheese (naturally rich in calcium) would be preferred over a cereal or fruit drinks fortified with calcium.

The Short List – more of us are buying more packaged food products with three or less ingredients listed. The goal is to keep it simple in the hopes of keeping it healthier. But, where does that leave a 15 Bean Soup Mix or a whole grain frozen pizza with two types of cheese and three kinds of vegetables on top? It’s not that simple. There’s more to consider than the number of ingredients in a recipe.

Quality over Quantity- Small plates, shared plates, mini burgers (sliders) and mini-desserts are still out in front as more diners want a variety of really great tastes without eating “the whole thing!” Wait; isn’t this the way the slim and trim French enjoy their creamy cheeses and lovely little pastries?

Healthy People, Healthy Planet – The move to add more organic produce, sustainable seafood and locally produced eggs, cheeses, breads and beers will continue to ramp up in 2010. Rather than being an add-on, these items will be front and center everyday offerings. For instance, the menu at One Midtown Kitchen in Atlanta features an entire section dedicated to Organic Produce. The winter greens are awesome right now!

Meals for Muscles and the Mind – We’re looking beyond our heart and hips for health benefits linked to good nutrition. Protein helps preserve muscle mass, especially in aging baby boomers. So, make sure you’re eating protein containing foods every day and including protein in each meal and snack. Something as simple as fresh apple slices topped with peanut butter is a good choice. Eggs are a high quality source of protein, too. But don’t live on egg whites. The nutrient choline in the egg yolk helps support the brain’s messenger service, called neurotransmitters. It’s also linked to new memory cell production. Don’t forget it!

Who Left the Salt Out? - Health authorities concerned about the link between sodium and heart disease, hypertension and strokes are calling for a big reduction in the amount of salt we consume. So, this year look for more food products made with less salt. But, the flavor’s got to come from somewhere. Executive chef Clifford Pleau, Director of Culinary Development for Seasons 52 restaurants says, “When you cut the sodium you need to add what I call ‘palate distractions’ such as the spice of chili flakes or acid in lemon juice.”

Hale to the Chef! Good news for those of us who like to dine out without filling out our waistlines. A survey of chefs’ resolutions for 2010 (conducted by the Culinary Institute of America) found that 38% of them want to “cook healthier dishes”. Let’s give them more reasons to do so by actually ordering those dishes!

Vote with your fork to drive the next healthy food trend.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Better For You Foods in 2010

Want to know who's dieting in 2010? Less of us.
Instead, the new definition of diet includes more
emphasis on choosing the foods which help us feel
better and keep cholesterol and blood pressure
numbers under control.
Add the power to boost the health of our skin, eyes, hair, nails, muscles and bones and we're really interested!
Better-for-you foods and drinks are gaining in popularity and that's why you see so many claims for health benefits on product labels.
Note: an official health claim must be approved by the FDA. But, that doesnt stop some manufacturers from putting pictures of "healthy looking" people on product packages or using words which imply health claims. So what's really better for you in 2010?

1. Organic when possible. But, just eat your vegetables!
2. Whole grains. Guess what? They serve up more than just fiber. The whole grain ( whether brown rice, wheat kernel or corn kernel) offers many more nutrients than processed grains.
3. Be a flexitarian. Even if you're not a vegetarian, you can eat like one more often. Plan meatless meals. This should increase the number and variety of needed nutrients in your diet and decrease the saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet.
4. Shake the salt habit. Your tastebuds will adjust in a few short weeks. Americans eat way too much salt. So, discover other ways to boost the flavor in foods-such as salsas, lemon and vinegars.
5. Go fish. But, choose the "good fish" which are sustainable and not riddled with pollutants.
A reliable source for seafood safety is the lists provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Back to those Too-Good-To- Be-True health claims. The Center for Science in the Public Interest is very interested in helping the FDA do a better job of being a referee in the food and health promotion arena. They've issued a report calling attention to several foods that might be promising more health than they can really deliver.