It’s Okay to Seek Comfort in Food

Last week I went out for a coffee break. I am a registered dietitian, and my office is located in downtown Manhattan, close to One World Trade Center. It’s on days like this, when the weather is warm and I generally feel well despite this city’s extremes, that I love living here. I bought my iced Americano topped off with touch of skim milk to go, and, at last chance, I couldn’t help but purchase one of the impossible to avoid, delectable looking chocolate chip cookies that was perfectly plated in the display case.

I immediately felt guilty for doing so. With edible pleasure in hand, I powerwalked back to work, and the heated discussion between my higher self and my ego began. My higher self said that I don’t have a weight problem or any health issues so why not indulge in something I love even though it isn’t “good” for me, and then ego bantered back, mocking me for being “bad”. Next came talk of portion size, where I decided to eat only half because this one big cookie is really two normal sized cookies when calories are considered. And, I didn’t add any sugar to my coffee and chose skim milk so the coffee’s nutritionally negligible and therefore rationalizes my decision. Yet I’m a nutritionist who instructs people not to do this sort of thing all the time- to not surrender to cravings, ignore the marketing ploys, and don’t eat out of boredom. My chocolate chip cookie made me feel like a hypocrite.

As I approached my building, I noticed a tall, fifty-ish, African American man dressed in cargo shorts and a t-shirt standing very still amidst a sea of business attire rushing past him, asking for help. Then, he spotted me.

Honestly, I tried to ignore him like everyone else seemingly was. He’s probably an annoying tourist here to take pictures, and I had to get back to work.

He said to me, “Can you help me? I need to find the quickest way to get uptown. I have to get out of here.”

His eyes welled up with tears, and pressing his hand against his forehead, he said, “I’m so sorry for bothering you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He was sweating and his eyes rapidly moved back and forth as he batted away tears. He was in the middle of a full blown panic attack.

I asked him if he wanted to take a cab or the subway, or if he needed to sit down and rest, and reminded him that everything was fine, it’s just like any other day, and to breathe. As I walked him to the subway station he politely requested, he told me this:

“I was here on 9/11. I was in tower one when the building collapsed. I was stuck here for three days. Now I have to wear a brace on my leg, part of my lung is missing, and I will be on medication for the rest of my life. I lost 113 friends. I thought today would be the day I could handle coming back here, but I can’t. I just can’t be here.”

When he finished, I was crying, and without thinking, I handed him my cookie.

The stranger graciously refused it. He was still too upset to eat it or even consider how especially comforting it would be to take pleasure in something as simple as a chocolate chip cookie once he calmed down. He said I had already done plenty, and he gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek goodbye when we reached the subway.

“You have to go back to work now?” he asked. I nodded.

He descended down into the station and as we parted ways, he truthfully acknowledged, “Now, you have a friend for life.”

Later, I ate the whole cookie and I felt okay.

Wild Oats Organic Pinto Beans

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Pinto Bean Nutrition Tidbit

Pinto beans contain the highest amount of fiber out of all beans, so get your fill!

The Nutritional Benefits of Wild Oats Organic Pinto Beans:

Nutritionally Authentic:

USDA Certified Organic food product

Nutritionally Affordable:

Fat-free, cholesterol-free

High in antioxidants and fiber, available at an affordable price

An inexpensive protein source

Nutritionally Accessible:

Shelf-stable pantry solution, easy to store and use quickly in recipes, such as soups, stews, chili, dips and casseroles.

Medical Nutrition Therapy Tips and Solutions:

Pregnancy: Pinto beans are high in B vitamins, especially folate. Folate helps prevent against neurodegenerative diseases and birth defects.

Anemia: Black beans are high in iron, and eating foods rich in iron prevents against anemia.

Brain Function: B vitamins in pinto beans help improve brain function and memory.

Cancer: Consuming beans may lower your risk for certain types of cancer.

Constipation: Beans are naturally high in fiber, so they great way to add bulk to stools and maintain a healthy digestive track.

Diabetes: Pinto beans have a nice balance of carbohydrates and fiber, so they won’t spike blood sugar rapidly.

Heart Health: Beans are naturally cholesterol free. Eating high fiber foods can prevent against heart disease.

High Blood Pressure: Rinse canned beans to wash away added sodium.

Vegetarians: They are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians.

Wild Oats Organic Sweet Peas

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Sweet Peas Nutrition Tidbit

Seeds of the sweet pea are poisonous. Luckily, the sweet peas they produce are not- they’re one of the most nutritious legumes!

Peas are also an environmentally friendly food. Add them to pastas and salads for a nutritional boost that protects our wonderful planet Earth.

Please experiment with this super simple Wild Oats sweet pea soup recipe and see how you feel about them. Give peas a chance! You never know- like me, you might become a pea convert.

Super Simple Sweet Pea Soup Recipe

Serves 4

4 cups organic Chicken Broth, low sodium

1 15 ounce can Wild Oats organic Sweet Peas

8 ounces diced ham, low sodium

1 Tablespoon Wild Oats organic Cumin

1 Tablespoon Wild Oats organic Coriander

1 teaspoon Wild Oats organic Garlic powder

1 teaspoon Wild Oats organic Onion powder

Bring all the ingredients to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to once they come to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a blender. Blend on high until pureed.

When serving, stir in a tablespoon of heart-healthy Wild Oats extra-virgin olive oil for extra nutrition, body and flavor.

The Nutritional Benefits of Wild Oats Organic Sweet Peas:

Nutritionally Authentic:

Certified USDA Organic

Nutritionally Affordable:

High fiber while being low in calories and fat-free

Nutritionally Accessible:

Shelf-stable pantry solution, easy to store and use quickly in recipes.

Medical Nutrition Therapy Tips and Solutions:

Anti-Inflammatory: Protect your knees with green peas, as the unique phytonutrients in green peas provide key anti-inflammatory benefits.

Anemia: Peas are high in iron, and eating foods rich in iron prevents against anemia.

Children: Bump up your child’s fiber intake by sneaking them into mac and cheese or other casserole dishes to go unnoticed by picky eaters.

Cancer: A Mexico City-based study has shown that daily consumption of green peas along with other legumes lowers risk of stomach cancer (gastric cancer), so get your fill.

Elderly: Peas have a naturally soft texture, and also can be pureed and consumed without teeth. A great way to add bulk to stools for those suffering from constipation.

Diabetes: Sweet peas have a nice balance of carbohydrates and fiber, so they won’t spike blood sugar rapidly.

High Blood Pressure: Rinse the canned peas to wash away added sodium.

Vegetarians: They are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians.

Wild Oats Organic Garbanzo Beans

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Garbanzo Bean Nutrition Tidbit

Garbanzo beans are the world’s most consumed legume. Some varieties of garbanzo beans can be popped and eaten like popcorn.

Garbanzo beans, known as chickpeas, are also one of the world’s oldest foods: 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East. They are called “garbanzo beans” in Spanish and Latin cultures, and the word “chickpea” is derived from the French chiche to cicer, Latin for ‘chickpea’. “Apicius”, an ancient collection of Roman recipes and one of the oldest cookbooks known to humankind, features recipes for chickpeas.

The Nutritional Benefits of Wild Oats Organic Garbanzo Beans:

Nutritionally Authentic:

USDA Certified Organic food product

Nutritionally Affordable:

Fat-free

High in antioxidants and fiber, available at an affordable price

An inexpensive protein source

Nutritionally Accessible:

Shelf-stable pantry solution, easy to store and use quickly in recipes

Medical Nutrition Therapy Tips and Solutions:

Pregnancy:  beans are high in B vitamins, especially folate. Folate is important for women to consume during their child bearing years because it prevents against neutral tube birth defects.

Anemia: Garbanzo beans are high in iron, and eating foods rich in iron prevents against anemia.

Vegetarians: They are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians.

Children: Bump up your child’s fiber intake by serving them heart healthy, preservative free hummus and organic vegetable sticks.

Child/Adolescence/Teenage: Pack a 1/4 cup hummus in an airtight to-go container, along with some whole grain crackers and organic vegetable sticks, as a grab-n-go snack for kids and teens on the run.

Athletes all of ages: Easily digestible fuel source for before or after exercise.

Adult/College/Elderly: Boost brain function by including magnesium-rich garbanzo beans in your daily diet.

Elderly: Pureed to soft texture; can be eaten without teeth.

Diabetes: Garbanzo beans have a nice balance of carbohydrates and fiber, so they won’t spike blood sugar rapidly.

High Blood Pressure: Rinse the canned beans to wash away added sodium.

The Nutritional Benefits of Wild Oats Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

oliveoilOlive Oil Nutrition Tidbit:

An olive is a fruit, not a vegetable, so technically olive oil is a fatty fruit juice. Unlike other fruit juices, it’s purely an oil that’s sugar-free and contains no carbohydrates.

I try to include at least 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil in my daily diet, not only for its nutritional benefits- see below- but also because a high-quality olive oil has so much flavor. Olive oil can vary on levels of acidity, spiciness, bitterness and sweetness. My Italian masters program in food culture and communications, housed in a castle in the countryside at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, in Piedmont, included lessons and exams on the sensory analysis of Italian “good, clean and fair” food products, including extra-virgin olive oil, not to mention other gastronomical pleasures, such as artisanal meat, cheese and wine. Needless to say, I highly recommend any “foodie” to enroll in a food sensory class and take your taste buds on a wild adventure!

Here is my personal sensory analysis of Wild Oats brand Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, and I encourage you to do your own taste test!

Sweet: A tad sweet

Spicy: Very peppery

Acidity: Mild acidity level

Bitterness: Slightly bitter

Other: Hints of lemon and orange

Personal recommended usage: kale or spinach salads, cold pasta salads, drizzled on top of low fat cottage cheese or used to dip whole-grain bread.

Here are the nutrition benefits of Wild Oats Extra-Virgin Olive Oil:

Nutritionally Authentic:

USDA Certified Organic food product

Only one ingredient: Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil- nothing else added at all

It’s an Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (which means that it’s the purest kind of olive oil)

A Walmart Great For You product

Nutritionally Affordable:

Rich source of heart healthy omega-3’s and omega-6’s with an affordable price tag

Nutritionally Accessible:

Available at Walmart

Medical Nutrition Therapy Tips and Solutions:

Cancer: Choose organic extra-virgin olive oil to lower risk of certain cancers.

Diabetes: Although olives are technically a fruit, extra-virgin olive oil is sugar-free and contains no carbohydrates.

Heart Health: A recent study found that consuming 4 tablespoons (¼ cup) of extra-virgin olive oil per day reduced risks of cardiovascular events by 30 percent in people without heart disease.

Elderly, and Those Who are Failing to Thrive or Malnourished: Stir in a tablespoon or two of Wild Oats organic extra-virgin olive oil into pureed foods or soups to add heart-healthy calories to the diet for those who are frail, need additional calories or are malnourished.

Wild Oats Organic Red Kidney Beans

IMG_5333Red Kidney Beans Nutrition Tidbit

Red Kidney Beans rank #3 on the U.S. Department of Agriculture list of foods highest in antioxidants, even more than blueberries, and have more fiber per serving than whole grains, so get your fill!

The Nutritional Benefits of Wild Oats Organic Red Kidney Beans:

Nutritionally Authentic:

USDA Certified Organic food product

The darker the bean, the higher amount of antioxidants

Nutritionally Affordable:

Fat-free

High in antioxidants and fiber, available at an affordable price

An inexpensive protein source

Nutritionally Accessible:

Shelf-stable pantry solution, easy to store and use quickly in recipes

Medical Nutrition Therapy Tips and Solutions:

Pregnancy: Red kidney beans are high in B vitamins, especially B-6. Vitamin B-6 can be used to treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Anemia: Red kidney beans are high in iron, and eating foods rich in iron prevents against anemia.

Vegetarians: They are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians.

Children: Bump up your child’s fiber intake by serving by making this Red Beans and Brown Rice recipe for dinner.

Athletes all of ages: Easily digestible fuel source for before or after exercise.

Cancer: Consuming beans may lower your risk for certain types of cancer.

Elderly:Beans are naturally a soft texture, and also can be pureed and consumed without teeth. A great way to add bulk to stools for those suffering from constipation.

Diabetes: Red kidney beans have a nice balance of carbohydrates and fiber, so they won’t spike blood sugar rapidly.

High Blood Pressure: Rinse the canned beans to wash away added sodium.

The Nutritional Benefits of Wild Oats Organic Applesauce

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Applesauce Nutrition Tidbit:

Astronaut John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the Earth, brought pureed applesauce in squeezable tubes on his initial space flight, proving that applesauce is a food that’s nutritionally out of this world!

The Nutritional Benefits of Wild Oats Organic Applesauce:

Nutritionally Authentic:

USDA Certified Organic food product

Short, all-natural ingredient list

Nutritionally Affordable:

Fat-free

Made with organic apples

Wild Oats Marketplace unsweetened applesauce has no added sugar; it’s just naturally sweet because it’s made with apples.

Wild Oats organic sweetened applesauce makes a delicious and nutritious dessert choice.

Can be used to replace oil in baking to cut down on fat in recipes and up the nutritionally quality of the baked good.

Nutritionally Accessible:

Grab-and-go packaging option, which fits easily into a purse, lunchbox, or backpack. Shelf-stable pantry solution.

Medical Nutrition Therapy Tips and Solutions:

Pregnancy: Add easily digestible calories to the diet while being gentle on the stomach. It’s a quick grab-n-go food to address hunger pangs.

Infant: Introduce your infant (greater than 6 months old) to new fruits with this organic, healthy soft food.

Toddlers: Teach your toddler how to use a spoon with applesauce. There may be a mess but it’s easy to clean up.

Child/Adolescence Teenage: Add a fruit serving to a picky eater’s diet. Nourishing, quick grab-n-go food to address hunger pangs.

Athletes all of ages: Easily digestible fuel source for before or after exercise.

Adult/College: Easy way to add a fruit to your diet and meet your 5 a day quota.

Elderly: Pureed to soft texture; can be eaten without teeth.

Diabetes: Choose unsweetened to lower amount of added sugar in diet.

Heart Disease: Wild Oats Marketplace organic applesauces are fat-free.

High Blood Pressure: Wild Oats Marketplace organic applesauces are low-sodium.

Who are Registered Dietitian Nutritionists?

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are credentialed medical nutrition therapy providers. They work in many different environments: hospitals, community health clinics, private practice, government, corporate, media, gyms, schools and even grocery stores.

I have been blessed to have had many amazing jobs as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist; as a personal chef for professional athletes and busy families, as a pediatric dietitian in a childhood obesity clinic, and as a community outreach, culinary class and health seminar coordinator at a natural food grocery store, to name a few. I’m also a Slow Food enthusiast, so I promote “good, clean and fair” food in all the work that do, including my job as a Wild Oats lifestyle blogger. I shop on a budget, and I personally really appreciate that Wild Oats offers nutritious food at an affordable price.

All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. It’s very important when you need diet and nutrition advice to seek the help of a medically trained professional who is credentialed, because there is assurance that you will receive information that is safe, trustworthy and research based.

I believe the best way to watch what you E.A.T.: Embrace life. Amaze yourself. Try everything! This is the health and wellness motto I live by. Please join me at the virtual table and share with me your own healthy life motto.

You are interested in becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist? For more information and a list of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in your area, please visit EatRight.org.

And to all my fellow RDNs- Happy Registered Dietitians Day!

Easy Wild Oats Spiced Up Chicken: 3 Ways

chickenpicChicken breast is a lean protein, which means it’s low fat after the skin has been removed. Chicken is rich in vitamins B, B6, B12, C, D, E, niacin, and magnesium. Protein helps you feel fuller longer, and you don’t need to eat a lot of it to be satisfied; a serving size is about the size of your own palm (kids have smaller palms and that’s their serving size).

I love seasoning chicken with a lot of herbs, and there are so many combinations to tantalize your taste buds.

Easy Herbed Chicken: 3 Ways

Makes 2-4 servings

2 4 ounce chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise

½ cup Wild Oats extra-virgin organic olive oil

The juice of one organic lemon

Spice Combo 1:

1 teaspoon Wild Oats organic garlic powder

1 teaspoon Wild Oats organic basil

1 Tablespoon Wild Oats organic Italian seasoning

Spice Combo 2:

1 teaspoon Wild Oats organic chili powder

1 teaspoon Wild Oats organic onion powder

1 Tablespoon Wild Oats organic curry powder

1 Tablespoon Wild Oats organic ground cumin

Spice Combo 3:

1 teaspoon Wild Oats organic cinnamon

1 teaspoon Wild Oats organic coriander

1 Tablespoon Wild Oats organic paprika

Place the raw chicken in a zip lock bag along with ¼ cup of the olive oil and herb blend of your choice. Get rid of the extra air in the bag, seal it and massage the spice blend onto the chicken, coating it.

In large skillet (you can use cast iron to bump up the iron content of the chicken through absorption during cooking) heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat.

Place coated chicken breasts in the pan, leaving some space in between them. Cook breast for about 5-7 minutes on each side, until juices of the chicken run clear. Turn off the heat, and squeeze lemon juice over the chicken.

Serve with your favorite grain and vegetables.