Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turket Trot 2010

This Thanksgiving, I was thankful to be able to run in the Turkey Trot 5-mile race.  The course was much more hilly than I am used to running, but I pushed through and ended up with a time of 47:48:10 (9:34 pace). 

Turkey Trot 2010
 My dad ran the 25K race, and I am proud to say he followed his hydration and nutrition plan perfectly and did very well!!!

Dad, Trotting along the 25K route

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Food Trends for 2011

This week, Phil Lempert, "The Supermarket Guru", released his list of food trends we should watch for in 2011.  Click here to read the entire article and all the other great information Lempert posts, but below is a brief list of the trends we will be seeing in the upcoming year.

-A focus on whole foods versus single nutrients or ingredients

-Easier to read (& understand) language on nutrition labels

-Using product barcodes to "checkout" as you move through a supermarket, but also to provide information on the product

-"Food Apps"-from pre-ordering at restaurants to discounts and specials via text message

-A focus on seafood, particularly from the Gulf Region

-Promotion of Vitamin D fortified foods

-Beverages with less carbonation and combinations of real fruit juices.

-"Regional" foods instead of only "local"; concentration will be on the taste and cultures of an area

-A renewed sense of social responsibility: Consumers are expected to tackle issues including hunger, humane treatment of animals and public policy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


"The key question to keep asking is: Are you spending time on the right things? Because time is all you have."-Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and I think the holidays tend to bring out the best and sometimes the worst in us!  Many people become fixated on preparing the perfect turkey or getting the best Black Friday deals.  Above all of that, I hope everyone takes a minute (or longer) to consider the meaning behind the holidays.  Thanksgiving is a chance for us to contemplate what it is we are truly thankful for.  It is also a time for us to GIVE back.  We should be giving what we can all year long, but particularly during the holidays when the spirit is amongst us.  If there's one thing I've learned from living in the NYC area, it's that things can always be worse.  There's nothing like leaving a bad day of work, and on the way home passing a homeless person begging for their next meal.  Someone always has it worse than you, so there's always an opportunity to give back.

I am more than excited to say that I am going to begin volunteering with CityHarvest, an organization in NYC that strives to end hunger through food rescue and distribution, along with food and nutrition education.  This past week, I attended a volunteer orientation and am looking forward to teaching basic nutrition to those in need.  CityHarvest is a fantastic organization but there is no end to the list of places in need where you can donate your time or money. 

So please take the time this holiday season to stop and think about what you are thankful for and how you can pay it forward.  Give to those in need, donate whatever money you can spare (a little goes a long way), or volunteer your time and skills. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Restaurant Review: La Isla, Hoboken, NJ

La Isla Restaurant, located on Washington Street in downtown Hoboken, NJ may not look like much from the outside, but the charming atmosphere and delicious Cuban cuisine will blow you away!

La Isla Restaurant
104 Washington Street
Hoboken, NJ
After moving down to the metropolitan area of NYC, I quickly learned that going to Brunch on the weekends is definitely THE thing to do.  I've tried many places that offer the traditional brunch foods: pancakes, omelettes, and eggs.  For two years, I had heard about the amazing food at La Isla, but had never gotten around to eating there.  La Isla's owner Chef Omar was even on an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the FoodNetwork.  The episode featured La Isla's signature brunch dish: Omar's Stuffed French Toast, which beat Flay hands down.  As such, when we finally visited La Isla this morning, I just HAD to try it!  The dish consists of two thick slices of bread filled with a strawberry and guava cream cheese.  The bread is dipped into a cinnamon batter and coated with corn flakes and crunchy almonds.  Simply put, it was amazing.  My friend ordered a more traditional item: La Isla Huevos Rancheros, which is two eggs covered in a spicy tomato sauce inside a crispy tortilla shell with black beans and a side of rice.  This was also absolutely delicious!
Strawberry & Guava Stuffed French Toast
Huevos Rancheros
In short, the rumors are correct.  La Isla is surely a treasure in the mile square that is not to be missed!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taste the Rainbow

No, I'm not telling you to go grab some Skittles! To get the maximum health benefits from your diet, try choosing foods (particularly fruits and vegetables) that are all colors of the rainbow! Increasing variety prevents boredom and ensures that you get all of the nutrients your body needs. Fruits and vegetables are delicious and tend to be low in calories, high in fiber, and easy to find. 

Whether you're trying to create a nutritious meal or build a healthier snack, try eating from the rainbow!

Red: Apples, Strawberries, Cherries, Beets, Red Bell Peppers, Watermelon, Cranberries

Orange: Oranges, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Pumpkins, Mangoes, Nectarines, Peaches, Carrots

Yellow: Bananas, Yellow Bell Peppers, Pineapple

Green: Apples, Avocadoes, Pears, Spinach, Broccoli, Kale, Brussel Sprouts, Asparagus

Blue/Purple: Blueberries, Plums, Raisins, Eggplant, Grapes, Potatoes

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What About the Twinkie?

Professor Mark Haub of the Kansas State University human nutrition department has recently found himself in the news by completing a junk food diet experiment.  He decided to test out the idea that if calories in are less than calories out, weight loss will occur no matter what foods those calories come from.  For two months, Professor Haub  followed a diet of less than 1800 calories per day, with the calories coming from foods like Twinkies, Doritos and Little Debbie Snacks.  While he admits to also eating healthier snacks such as carrots and celery, he purposely avoided whole grains, fruits and meats to keep his calorie count down.

Haub lost 27 lbs over the 2 months, lowered his LDL cholesterol, increased his HDL cholesterol and decreased his total triglycerides. 

This may seem especially frustrating to those who are trying to lose weight "the right way", but it ultimately isn't shocking.  The key to this story is the fact that Professor Haub was overweight prior to beginning his experiment, and the 1800-calorie plan he followed represents half of the calories he took in before the diet.  Professor Haub decreased the total amount of calories he was taking in, which will of course result in weight loss.  While the health benefits associated with losing weight are innumerable, in Professor Haub's case, we aren't seeing the long-term impact of consuming high-calorie, high-fat snack foods.  Not to mention the negative side effects from not taking in enough beneficial fruits and vegetables.  The other interesting piece of this story is that Haub himself is not recommending his diet for others, admitting that there are likely unseen long-term effects of eating in this manner.

So, should you be lowering your total caloric intake? Most likely, yes.  Should you be filling those calories with snack foods like twinkies? No! Stick to nutritious snacks like fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.  Happy (and healthy) snacking! :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Scoop on Sodium

By now you've heard that salt (or sodium) is linked to increasing blood pressure and risk of heart disease.  It does this because salt attracts the water in your blood vessels, causing more water to be released, thus increasing the total amount of fluid in the vessels, and therefore blood pressure. 

Salt does have a variety of purposes in foods, including flavor enhancing and preservation.  It is essential to the body, although in very small amounts.  The body needs about 200 mg of sodium a day for proper function, and the American Heart Association recommends an intake of 1,500 mg or less each day.  Studies show that a typical American consumes over double that amount everyday! 

Foods that are typically high-sodium include most canned products, soups, condiments, and pre-prepared foods.  Be sure to check the Nutrition Facts label and try to choose foods that say "unsalted" or "no added salt".  If possible, choose fresh or frozen foods with no added salt.  Instead of using the salt shaker to flavor your meals, try adding spices, herbs or just black pepper.  Finally, remember that it will take some time for your tastebuds to adapt to reduced sodium in the diet, but you will begin to appreciate the true tastes of your food!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

ING NYC Marathon Sunday!

Congratulations to all running the 41st ING NYC Marathon this morning! Today, over 43,000 people from across the world are participating in one of the greatest road races in history, and it is nothing but inspiring.  The weather is amazing and although I am following the race on TV this morning (rather than out there along the course) I can just feel the excitement in both the runners and the crowd!

I am lucky to have an amazing runner role model in my father, who has completed the NYC Marathon and several others in his lifetime.  In a few years, I hope to be ready for a full marathon myself and the ING NYC Marathon is definitely on the top of my list! Again, congratulations to all marathon runners today and in the future! :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nutrition and Health Claims

You probably know you should be checking the Nutrition Facts label on food items you are eating.  But with all the health claims and nutrients listed, sometimes it's tough to figure out what exactly you should be looking for! What does it mean if something is "low-fat" or a "good source of _____"? The Food and Drug Administration has established guidelines on what food products can claim on their packaging. 

Here are the common health claims you'll see and what they really mean:
"Reduced"= 25% less of the calories or nutrient than the normal product
"Light"= 1/3 of the calories OR 1/2 of the fat of the normal product
"Low-calorie"= Less than 40 calories (per serving)
"Fat-free"= Less than 0.5 gram of fat (per serving)
"Sugar-free"= Less than 0.5 gram of sugar (per serving)
"Low-sodium"= <140mg of sodium (per serving)
"Good source of"= Provides at least 10% of the Daily Value of a nutrient (per serving)

The FDA is taking a step in the right direction to further clarify food labeling through the "Front-of-Package Labeling Initiative".  This program will target products with food labels that give misleading messages of potential health benefits.  The initiative is working to ensure that claims made on the front of food packaging are truthful and useful in helping consumers make healthier choices.  Companies that are found to be in violation are given warnings and must respond within 15 days with how they are or will be taking action to make corrections.

So next time you're out stocking up on groceries, beware of the health claims on the front of packaging, and be sure to check out the Nutrition Facts label as well! Happy shopping! :)