Monthly Archive

Metrowest Nutrition

From Our Blog

Pass the Cheese Please!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Are you a cheese lover?  If so then you're in good company!  This time of year definitely puts me in the mood for some warm brie, a nice viney blue or our family favorite, Dubliner.  Which is why this article in Food & Wine about the best artisinal cheese got my mouth watering.  It features some local New England cheeses including one from Shy Brothers Farm in Westport, MA.  Luckily, we don't have to travel to Vermont, Connecticut or even Westport to enjoy these delicious artisinals.  If you visit the farm's websites, you can find out where their products are sold or possibly order online.  

Many people assume cheese isn't "healthy" due to it's high fat content.  Before I argue that point, let's just say, so what if it isn't healthy?  Must every morsel we put in our mouths be contributing to the greater good of our body?  Is enjoying food important?  Is it possible to balance nutrition with enjoyment?  What happens when you deprive yourself of foods you love?  Managing your relationship with food is a personal matter and these are good questions to ask yourself. 

More often than note, deprivation leads to over-indulgence.  Think about this throughout the holiday season.  Let go a little more and let your body cues guide the way.  Try to avoid 'all or nothing' mentality.  Instead think 'some'.  Many people give themselves unrestrained permission to eat throughout the holidays with the caveat "my diet starts in January".  This can be a set up since the message remains that it's really not ok to eat these foods and therefore, you better get it all in while you can!  I'm going to repeat my favorite quote from Ellyn Satter once again, "when you give yourself permission to eat, you can give yourself permission to stop."  

Now for the health benefits of cheese.  It is "healthy".  Cheese is an excellent source of protein (5g/oz) and of course, calcium (~300mg/oz).  It also has a good amount of fat to help with satiety .  Cheese satisfies the palate's craving for creamy, rich and savory food.  Finally, recently a lot of attention has been placed on the importance of our microbiome (see former post,  "Getting to Know Your Microbiome" for more on that).  While there is still a lot of research to be done, probiotics appear to help improve gut bacteria. One of the best sources of probiotics is raw milk.  That's right raw, as in not pasteurized

If interested in raw milk, you will want to find a local farm that sells it. The Raw Milk Network within the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) is a great resource for finding local dairy farms.  You will also find more information here on local, organic foods.  Eastleigh Farm in Framingham offers raw as well as pasteurized dairy. 

So go on, enjoy your cheese; along with a variety of other foods this holiday season!  

Here are some of our favorite combos:

1.  Baked brie with fruit.  Try this one Baked brie with apples and cranberries .
2.  Fruit and cheese platter.  Here are some tips for creating it.
3.  Baked into things like in these cheese crisps.
4.  Sprinkled on salad.  Read about 5 great cheeses for salads.


Chocolate's Hidden Bounty

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Is chocolate your friend or foe?  People often describe themselves as being “addicted to chocolate”.  Of all foods, chocolate is likely the most commonly craved, particularly for women.  The winter months seem to heighten these cravings.  Many people also express guilt over eating chocolate, assuming it has a negative impact on health. 

You may be surprised to learn, chocolate actually has significant health benefits.  Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, originating from South America.  Mayans historically used it for medicinal purposes.  It’s ironic that something we often assume to be a an indulgence actually has more antioxidant power than most "super fruits" (acai, pomegranate,goji berries, etc).  

Cocoa improves mood.  It’s rich in agents that enhance the production of various feel-good chemicals in the brain, notably serotonin and dopamine. This means that cocoa possesses anti-depressant, mood-elevating properties.  

It also contains theobromine and a small amount of caffeine which have a mild stimulant effect.  The combination of these chemicals provides the perfect neurological cocktail.  It’s no surprise that some people use chocolate to self- medicate.  And...ahem, no surprise that my children's chocolate has quickly disappeared from their Halloween stash (to no fault of their own). It makes sense that cravings seem to increase in the winter months when depressive symptoms are on the rise. 

Cocoa is also great for your heart.  The polyphenols in cocoa are cardio-protective in two ways.  They help to reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or “bad cholesterol”.  Oxidation of LDL is considered a major factor in the promotion of coronary disease, most notably heart attack and stroke.  Additionally, polyphenols inhibit blood platelets from clumping together.

 

Cocoa is a great source of magnesium and zinc.  Magnesium is an important and often over-looked mineral.  It’s critical for activating muscles and nerves, creating energy in the body, helping with digestion and producing serotonin and other neurotransmitters involved in mood.  Magnesium is also critical for the heart which holds the largest amount of magnesium in the body.  Zinc also plays a role in in neurotransmitter function.  It is also critical for growth and plays a role in immune function, smell and taste perception.  

So, you can feel great about eating chocolate and serving up the hot cocoa to your kiddos this winter, right?  Yes, but.  Cocoa clearly has some impressive health benefits.  Though, as with most things, when processed and mixed with other ingredients, the nutritional value diminishes.  The chocolate in a Milky Way is off-set by its high sugar & fat content and artificial ingredients to give it a longer shelf life.  

Alternately, pure cacao bars and powder have 0g of fat,, 0g of sugar and 2g of fiber per tablespoon along with the previously mentioned nutrients.  It is the best way to fully obtain cocoa’s nutritional bounty.  Consider using it as a base for hot chocolate or mixing it into your favorite recipe.  Chili and mole sauces are great ways to add some cocoa into your food in a flavorful way.  When searching for a chocolate bar, look for one that has no more than 2-3 ingredients, at least 65% cacao and < 5g of sugar. 

Here's a homemade hot cocoa recipe that's kid-approved: 

Homemade Cocoa

For every serving use:
1 cup or mug of milk (1%, almond, soy)
1 to 2 teaspoons of Cacao
2 teaspoons water
2-3 teaspoons of sugar, agave or honey*
Gently heat the water, sugar, cocoa and vanilla over medium heat, stirring until dissolved.  Add milk, lower heat and stir.  Heat until desired temperature is reached.
Your hot cocoa can be spiced up by adding any of the following during the heating phase:
Cinnamon stick, Orange or Lime Zest, Chile Powder, Nutmeg, Vanilla.

*You can start with less and add to taste - this way you can minimize the sugar content, unlike with commercial mixes.

Eat Your Fat Folks!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

For years, health practitioners led by USDA guidelines, have been encouraging people to cut out fat.  The result has been an influx of highly processed, low fat options that are higher in sugar and/or simple carbohydrates.  We've also led on the assumption that a calorie, is a calorie, is a calorie.  Hence, if calories in are less than calories out, weight loss is guaranteed, right?  This mentality has failed many of my clients.   

The reality is we now know that cutting out fat is detrimental to weight management.  Fat is essential for satiety, the feeling of fullness we get after a meal.  It staves off hunger much longer than carbohydrates and even protein.  We are learning more about how genetics and our microbiome (gut environment) impact weight and overall health.  It's not simply about calories or fat OR perhaps even saturated fat.  Research does support opting for cardio-protective, mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil, those found in fatty fish, avocado, etc.  However, it seems villainizing fat has led to increased consumption of simple carbs and sugar which are more likely to lead to weight gain, diabetes and related health conditions.

This is a great clip from a recent Time Magazine piece entitled "Eat Butter".

 

Move over big agriculture, there's a new (old) farmer in town!

Monday, August 04, 2014

Farming is hot and farmers are cool!  Who would've thought twenty years ago that farming would be fashionable?  When I was in college (yes, I'm dating myself I know) one of my dorm mates was majoring in horticulture and agriculture and it seemed so obscure to me at the time.  It made sense for her having grown up on a farm and as she put it "being a hick" and all but there was no way that farming was going to compete with computer science and at the time, I was completely unaware of how closely it tied to my own discipline.

Nowadays,  with more insight into farming practices and how they impact the food we eat, we're becoming more selective in our food choices.  Specifically, we want to know where and how food is grown and what happens after.  Organic farming in particular has exploded.  On May 15th, an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal indicating that "organic farming is not sustainable".  Here's a great response to that article by the Cornucopia Institute.

Many young college grads and professionals are forgoing the rat race in pursuit of a more bucolic, rustic life on the farm.  Don't be fooled though, this lifestyle is anything but "less work".  It is however a different kind of work; a lifestyle that keeps you fit and healthy and connected to the earth.  In recent history, big agriculture took the place of small, family run farms.  However, we seem to be reverting to our original small scale farming efforts in favor of better quality and in hopes to preserve our land for generations to come.  Interested in becoming a farmer?  Check out this great site, sustainable-live-work-play

First class in 'Yoga of Eating' series was a success!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Liz and Alex kicked off the 'Yoga of Eating' series last Thursday with a huge success. The session was fully booked and participants had rave reviews after the first evening.

The two hour group includes an experiential yoga activity, a mindful eating exercise and discussion of mindfulness application in daily life. Attendees reflected that the experience enabled them to truly experience their hunger cues and eat accordingly. It was also helpful to have Liz and Alex provide a safe environment and join the others at the meal.

This is how they thoughtfully set the stage for a mindful meal.

We know that we had to turn some away because the group was full, but given the level of interest, we will certainly run it again.  So, stay posted!









June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month!

Monday, June 02, 2014

To celebrate this delicious and nutritious time of year, here are a few of our favorite fruit and veggie activities for you and your family.

Visit a Farmer’s Market- have children be on the lookout for a certain colored new fruit or veggie to try or make a scavenger hunt to find a rainbow of produce.

Make Fruit Wands- Stack a variety of cut up fruits on a kabob stick and top with a slice of star fruit for a magical and tasty treat.

Plant a Veggie Garden- Planting vegetables can be a great way to increase your child’s interest in trying new, healthy foods. Take a look at some of our tips here for getting started.

Veggie Builders- Make a variety of veggie buildings, animals and people out of cut up vegetables, tooth picks and cream cheese for the “glue”.

Make Fruit “Sundaes”- Layer fruit, low fat yogurt and crunchy cereal or granola in a pretty glass and enjoy!

Dinner Switch Ups

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tired of the same old chicken every night? Shake things up a bit with our fun dinner switch ups!

Stir Fry Saturdays: We love this “take-out fake out” for weekends. Wok cooking can be a quick, fun and healthy alternative to make some of your favorite Asian cuisine favorites. Keep it healthy by limiting the oil and loading up the vegetables.

 
Breakfast for Dinner: An oldie but a goodie! Eggs can be an easy option to whip up during the week- make omelets packed with favorite veggies and low fat cheese. Pair with whole grain toasted English muffins and a fresh fruit salad.

Meatless Mondays: This is a great idea to bring into your weekly dinner line up. Vegetarian meals can be filling, tasty and a healthy alternative to your typical meat-lover choices. Check out this fantastic site: www.meatlessmonday.com  for recipes and to learn about this health movement.

Make Your Own Pizza: Another fun alternative to delivery foods- there are so many options to choose and everyone can make their own personalized pizza. For crust, there’s many options out there – you can get adventurous and make your own from scratch or take a shortcut by using pre-made dough from the grocery store (most stores even carry wheat dough now). If the thought of rolling out dough is too much at the end of a long day, buy pre-cooked pizza crust such as the Boboli individual crusts or try Naan flat bread (one of my personal favorites) from the bakery section. Get out everyone’s favorite toppings and start the pizza party!

Kiddos in the Kitchen: Getting your children involved in cooking is a great way to peak their interest in trying new foods as well as teach them a useful skill for lifelong healthy eating. Children can start with simple tasks in the kitchen and work to create their “signature dishes.” It can be a fun idea to have children create their own “restaurant” by decorating the table, designing their own placemats and even make menus for the night.

New Ideas to Avoid the Post-Lunch Energy Crash

Monday, April 14, 2014

Has post-lunch lethargy got you and your kids sleeping on the job?

In a recent article from Dr. Sears, it’s suggested to be mindful of the types of protein and the amount of carbohydrates we eat at lunch to keep our minds stimulated.  When it comes to kids lunches, Dr. Sears recommends packing protein foods that are high in the amino acid tyrosine such as seafood, turkey, tofu, legumes and tuna, to perk up the brain. Along with this he recommends that keeping the calories appropriate (for children 600-800 calories, for most adults 400-600 calories), keeping to 1-2 servings of a complex carbohydrate (such as quinoa, wheat bread or fruit), including to 1-2 servings of a healthy fat and aiming to eat the protein first, followed by the carbohydrates is the perfect recipe for a brain-stimulating lunch.  Foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that sedates the brain, include eggs, milk, bananas, dairy, sunflower seeds and meat. These tryptophan-rich foods paired with a large amount of carbohydrates as part of a higher calorie lunch can lead to a sluggish child after lunch as tryptophan is able to get into the brain at a high rate with this combination according to Dr. Sears.   As all children, and adults, are different, use these recommendations only if you see an improvement in your child’s attentiveness/behavior.

For more tips on keeping your energy up throughout the day, contact Ashley Bade Cronin at Ashley@metrowestnutrition.com or 617-332-2282 and make an appointment at one of our offices in Northborough, Framingham or Newton.

NEW location - Northborough

Saturday, April 05, 2014

We're very excited to announce our new office location at the Barrett Family Wellness Center in Northborough, MA.  Barrett is committed to providing a full spectrum of wellness services children, adults and families.  They specialize in pediatric occupational and speech therapy and we look forward to complimenting these services with nutrition counseling.

Our  pediatric dietitian, Ashley Bade Cronin will be at Barrett Family Wellness on Fridays starting April 4th.  We will open up more hours as needed.  It may be possible to set up a tele-counseling appointment if you aren't able to come in person.  Call us to find out more and to set up an appointment 617-332-2282.  Or, email Ashley directly at ashley@metrowestnutrition.com.

Our services at Barrett are eligible for insurance reimbursement.   We accept most major plans including BlueCross BlueShield, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts, Aetna, United and Cigna.  Nutrition coverage varies depending on your plan but we can provide guidance on how to determine if your session(s) will be covered.

You do not need to be a current client of Barrett Family Wellness Center to see us at this location.  If you haven't already visited the center, it's a great set up for kids.  There are plenty of toys and books in the waiting room and even more options for entertainment inside the center.  We will be seeing adults here as well so if childcare has been a barrier in the past, hopefully this will help! 

We look forward to seeing you at our new location soon!


Have a Picky Eater? Join us for Lunch!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Do you have picky eaters in your family? Are you concerned about their health but are unsure how to manage it? 

Join Ashley Bade, RD, LDN, CNSD of Metrowest Nutrition, and Healthy Habits Kitchen, creators of ready-to-cook, nutritionally-balanced meal kits, to learn how you can ensure your picky eater is getting the right nutrition by establishing a meal and snack routine, providing balance and variety, setting expectations and much more.

Plus, you’ll sample kid-friendly HHK dishes and learn how MetroWest Nutrition’s new food delivery service can help you save time and achieve your goals.

 

This is a FREE event and will be held on Thursday, May 30th from 11:30-1pm.  Feel free to come for the whole time or just drop in!  Please register below so we know how much food to have available.

Eventbrite - Managing a Picky Eater



Boston Web Designer