Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Site for Blogs

Dear Fellow Blog Readers:

I have launched my new web site as of today and will officially start blogging on my regular website at The blog is located on the top bar and titled: Doctor's Dietitian blog. I made the decision to house everything on the web page for easy access and will be updating information there frequently as well as blogging about the latest studies and products I found that are useful for individuals. Thank you and hope you like the new site!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Healthy Snacks for Diabetic Children

Understanding diabetes is the first step in planning healthy snacks for diabetic children. There are 2 types of diabetes that children can be diagnosed with – type I and type 2. With type I the child’s pancreas stops producing insulin usually due to a combination of genetic and environmental issues.

With type 2 the child has sensitivity to carbohydrates. A diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates combined with inactivity and a family history of diabetes can cause the insulin the child makes to become “sluggish” and eventually lead to high blood sugars. So type I is an absence of insulin, and type 2 is a resistance to the insulin that is there.

Both types need to monitor amounts of carbohydrates and choosing healthy carbohydrates from real whole food sources paves the way to choosing healthy snacks.

Healthy sources of carbohydrate include:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • low fat plain dairy products
  • nuts, seeds and nut butters
  • whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa
  • beans/legumes
  • buckwheat

How do we translate these choices to healthy snacks for those with compromised blood sugars? Sticking to foods that are in their whole form, rather than packaged foods is the first step. Following are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. 2 tablespoons of natural peanut or cashew butter with cut up apple or celery
  2. 2 slices of hard cheese melted on a whole wheat tortilla
  3. “Healthy Nut Mix” – recipe from blog 4/1/09
  4. Mixing a fresh ricotta cheese with berries, cinnamon and a little honey
  5. A miniature relish plate for kids with pickles, olives, hard cheese and grapes
  6. Homemade Hummus (recipe below) with carrot and celery sticks
  7. Ricotta Buckwheat pancakes (see blog 7/14/09) with Apple Blueberry Compote (recipe and picture in this blog)

Use your imagination and even take your child shopping to get them involved in picking our wholesome healthy food at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Their involvement in the process of healthy eating encourages healthy consumption!

Apple Blueberry Compote

Servings: 6 ½ cup servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes


4 medium apples, peeled and diced

(mix of Golden Ginger, Gala, Pink Lady, and Fuji)

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter, cut in little pieces


Preheat oven 400 degrees.

Mix apples, blueberries and spices in glass dish. Dot with butter. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and then stir. Mixture will turn purple with stirring.

Per Serving

Calories 85

Protein 0 grams

Total Carbohydrates 18 grams

Total Fat 2 grams

Fiber 4 grams

Sodium 0 mg.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Crunchy Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Snacks

Years ago wheat-free snacks lacked taste and crunch. There has been an explosion of snacks in the last 2 years which are tasty, crunchy and made of nuts, seeds, vegetables and spices. These make an excellent snack choice for those with carbohydrate sensitivity, diabetes, celiac disease and other medical issues.

My favorite variety is Wheat Free Crusts by Mauk Family Farms. These “crackers” are made of sunflower, sesame and flax seeds along with spices and will make an wonderful substitute for crackers.

Another company that makes many varieties is Lydia’s Organics. These “crackers” are usually made of almonds, sesame seeds, vegetables and spices. The Luna-Nori, Italian and Sunflower “Bread” have a great taste and pair well with cheese or peanut/almond and cashew butters.

Finally Matter of Flax is a excellent choice that makes their “crackers” of flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and spices which make them each a little different – Italian, Mexican, and Indian are a few of the flavors.

They all have a little kick and will satisfy that carby crunchy need without breaking your “carb” bank.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Does a Dark Chocolate a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?

Many people think of dark chocolate as something their mothers used to bake with, but it has come a long way since that time in terms of texture and flavor. Many varieties of dark chocolate are on the market, with some tasting better than others. I myself was a big milk chocolate fan and when the research became clear that dark chocolate was the most advantageous I reluctantly transitioned myself over to the dark. However, after going over to “the other side” I am now sold on dark chocolate.

If you only like milk chocolate consider trying
Dove Dark Chocolate Promises – they come in a nice bite size and 2 per day is a good serving. Experiment with tasting different ones. Trader Joe’s has Dark Chocolate Wedges that come in a small round tin n regular dark chocolate and spiced with chipotle for a nice kick. My current favorite is Kallari dark cocoa which comes in 70, 75 and 85% at Whole Foods. Kallari has a rich smooth taste that I only experienced with dark chocolate I tasted in Switzerland. Choose ones that are greater than 70% cocoa since a higher cocoa content contains the most nutrients and the least amount of sugar.

Why eat dark over milk chocolate? Dark chocolate contains higher amounts of a type of phytochemcial (a chemical naturally found in foods that prevents disease) called flavanols than milk chocolate. The higher the percent cocoa the more flavanols the chocolate contains. Dark chocolate and cocoa contain several types of flavonoids called catechins and epicatechins which are thought to lower inflammation in the body.

Dark chocolate has been linked with lower inflammatory states in the body due to its high antioxidant activity. A 2008 study done with 5000 people linked a square or two of dark chocolate per day with 33 percent decrease in heart disease among women and a 26 percent decrease in men. The people in the study had lower levels of C - reactive protein, a marker in the blood that signals inflammation in the body.

It is recommended to eat one ounce of dark chocolate per day for health - I’d say a recommendation most of us can live with – and maybe not even a splurge, but a necessity!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Healthy Ice-Cream?

Do you remember the days of the hand cranked old-fashioned homemade ice-cream that had the most wonderful creamy taste? My mouth waters just to think of it and wonder why it is a lost tradition.

In my opinion ice-cream is a healthier dessert to eat since it contains no flour, gluten, and if made with few ingredients is a worthwhile splurge in moderation. One brand I discovered several years ago is a small family company in Santa Barbara called McConnell’s. Their ice-cream is made with very few and fresh ingredients and is sold at Whole Foods.

Recently Haagen-Dazs started making a new ice-cream called “Five” that tastes almost homemade and contains just five ingredients. The vanilla bean contains: skim milk, cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla. I tried the vanilla and coffee this past weekend and was surprised at how a satisfying a few bites could be. If you want to have ice-cream skip the ‘lite” fake fluff and enjoy the real deal.

The other healthy dessert I recommend is dark chocolate but let’s save that one for another day.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Alcohol and Breast Cancer?

Several years ago I got asked to speak at a women’s conference and address the connection between diet and cancer. After researching foods to include and foods to avoid I was surprised to find the strong correlation between alcohol intake and breast cancer. Were the alcohol companies just good at hiding these studies?

Since that time, multiple studies have established the link between alcohol intake and breast cancer risk. Wendy Chen, M.D., Ph.D., a cancer specialist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, presented her research data at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2005. Her study tracked the health of 122,000 women since 1976 that were free of cancer when the study began.

When compared with those who did not drink, they discovered the following:

• Women who drank the equivalent of half a glass of wine a day were 6 percent more likely to develop breast cancer
• Women who drank the equivalent of a glass or two of wine per day had a 21 percent increased risk of breast cancer
• Women who drank the equivalent of two drinks per day had a 37 percent increased risk of cancer

Alcohol can increase breast cancer risk since it:

• Increases blood triglyceride levels
• Increases estrogen levels in blood circulation
• Decreases the liver’s processing of excess estrogen in the blood and decreases immune function.

A 2009 study published in the UK in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed similar results in women consuming alcohol: consuming as little as one drink per day increases a woman’s risk of several types of cancer by 13 percent.

Everyone reads about how a glass of red wine per day is good for your health. However, the studies that have looked at the correlation between wine and health have consistently shown that resveratrol is the component of alcohol which prevents disease, which is not in the fruit of the grape, but is contained in the skins. Therefore, just eating some grapes every day with skins can be more beneficial to health than a glass of wine.

So the next time you have a snack, reach for some grapes and have a few nuts or a piece of hard cheese for balance.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Plain Yogurt?

Since breakfast can be challenging, here is one more easy option that takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and can hold you for 3-4 hours or until lunch. Plain yogurt is a great food to have on a daily basis since it contains 400 mg. of calcium per cup serving besides providing healthy bacteria for your gut.

As opposed to European yogurts, most plain American yogurts are bitter and tasteless, at least until recently. A few years back this pattern started to change with several companies selling European-style yogurts with a thick creamy consistency.

One of my favorites is from Greece called Fage. The plain Fage 2% contains the best nutritional mix with high levels of protein, a little fat and a moderate amount of carbohydrate. It comes in large containers, and small ones that travel well.

Another favorite is Strauss plain yogurt. Strauss is a small company that carries all organic products including plain low-fat yogurt and whole milk yogurt. Both are good options that come in large containers only.

Spega La Natura is an Italian yogurt that comes in small glass jars which are handy for re-use around the house. This yogurt is easy to take to work for a snack or small meal.

All of these brand mix well with fruit and nuts or seeds, or the Healthy Nut Mix (see blog 4/1/09) from my upcoming book A Recipe for Life by the Doctor's Dietitian which will be available in September.