Eat the Rainbow

Original Image by Dean Hochman via Flickr
Original Image by Dean Hochman via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Have you ever noticed that processed, fried and fast food often have one color in common? Brown and white.  Have you realized that fruits, veggies and whole grains have another color in common?  Actually, multiple colors–Rainbows.  They’re not just for artists  to refer to their color palette.  Sorry for the stereotype, but thinking of rainbows are a great way check and balance system

Color Examples of Food  Benefits
Red Tomato, watermelon, guava, cherries, Ruby Red grapefruit, snapper meat, red peppers
  • Lycopene, antioxidant—cuts prostate cancer risk and decreases risk of heart disease
  • Increases consumption of omega 3’s
Orange Pumpkin, sweet potato, yams, carrots, mangos, oranges
  • Beta carotene—supports immune system, powerful antioxidant, support skin health
  • Increases vitamin A consumption
Yellow-orange Orange, lemon, grapefuit, papaya, banana, peach, squash, lemons
  • Carotenoids—help defend against cancer, help body produce more white blood cells and boost immunity
  • vitamin c
  • flavonoids—inhibit tumor cell growth, detoxify harmful substances
  • increases potassium levels
Green Spinach, kale, collard, arugula
  • Folate—builds healthy cells and genetic material
  • Rich in minerals—iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C,E,K and B
  • Variety in phytonutrients—beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
  • Contain omega 3 fats
Green-white Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Indoles
  • lutein—eliminate excess estrogen and carcinogen
White-green Garlic, onion, chive, aspargus
  • Allyl sulfides—destroy cancer cells, reduce cell division, support immune system
Blue Blueberries, grapes, plums, blackberries
  • Anthocyanins—destroy free radicals
  • antioxidants—help protect against cancer
  • limits damage to tendons, cartilage, ligaments and blood vessels
  • impacts urinary tract health
  • preserves vision
Red-purple Grapes, berries, plums, purple cabbage, cranberries
  • Reservatrol—may decrease estrogen production
Brown Whole grains, legumes
  • Fiber—carcinogen removal
White Mushrooms, onions, cauliflower, potatoes and garlic
  • Reduces risk of cancer by triggering liver to produce enzymes to detoxify cancer causing chemicals
  • Source of vitamin K, C, B6 and fiber
  • Betaglucans—polysaccharides that stimulate immune system to fight infection
  • Protects against heart disease
  • Antibacterial and viral effects

Using this reference, if you’re stumped what to serve with your chicken or you don’t know what you should add to your smoothie use this quick guide to check if you’ve got enough “colors” in your meal to complete a rainbow.  Not only will meals be more pleasing to the eye with a more varied plate, but the health benefits are numerous and one will be consuming more nutrients than the processed foods that usually stick to one color.

Suggestions on how to incorporate more varied colors into one’s everyday lives:

  • Add fresh fruit to breakfast cereal, oatmeal, smoothie, yogurt, etc.
  • Add cranberries, carrots, beets, etc. to salad
  • Swap white potatoes with sweet potatoes
  • Swap broccoli for cauliflower, squash and/or purple cabbage
  • Have fresh fruit on the table or counter to grab on the go


Everything You Need to Know About Kidney Stones

Original Image by Trevor Blake via Flickr
Original Image by Trevor Blake via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Those that drink iced tea are at higher risk of developing kidney stones.  It’s not a myth.  After looking at several studies, it’s been found that excessive consumption of tea can increase one’s chances of developing kidney stones, with more than 10% of Americans effected by kidney stones. It is understandable why some might be apprehensive of this claim, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing.

Oxalates are naturally occurring molecules found in plants, animals and within human bodies.  Not only can high oxalate intake cause kidney stones, but absorptive hypercalciuria type II, enteric hyperoxaluria, and primary hyperoxaluria.  It is recommended one limit their oxalate intake to 50 mg/day–for example, 1/4 cup of raw spinach.

High oxalate containing foods

Fruits Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, currants, kiwifruit, purple grapes, figs, tangerines and plums
Vegetables Spinach, swiss chard, beet green, collards, okra, parsley, leeks and quinoa, celery, green beans, rutabagas, summer squash
Nuts Almonds, cashews and peanuts
Legumes Soybeans, tofu and soy products
Grains Wheat bran, wheat germ, quinoa
Other Cocoa, chocolate and black tea

So let me explain, iced tea contains large amounts of oxalates, which is one of the many aspects of the composition of kidney stones.   The most common type of kidney stones are calcium oxalate, at 80% of the kidney stone cases.  Kidney stones can also be caused by calcium, uric acid and cystine and where there’s an imbalance between the concentration of these substances and the chemicals in the urine that usually keep the substances dissolve.  Vitamin C converts foods into oxalates, so any food that is high in oxalates are also indirectly high in vitamin C. Kidney stones are the first stage of kidney disease and can be prevented or treated quickly if one knows the proper treatment.

Risk factors




  • Working adults
  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Diets high in oxalate—tea, okra, sweet potatoes
  • Disorders impacting calcium levels
  • Exposure to furosemide or indinavir
  • Bloody urine—hematuria
  • Pain in uria—dysuria
  • Increased urine output
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe pain in groin
  • Use urinalysis to see blood in urine
  • May request abdominal x rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • hydration
  • Removal of stone—endoscopic stone removal or extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy
  • Medication

Suggestions to decrease risk of kidney stones:

Original Image by Mariya Chorna via Flickr
Original Image by Mariya Chorna via Flickr
  • Limit consumption of oxalates–found in rhubarb, nuts, spinach, dark chocolate, tea and coffee
  • Controlling urine pH by increasing vitamin C intake can help prevent UTI’s
  • increase fluid intake, such as carrot and grape juice, which inhibits the growth of uric acid
  • increase calcium consumption–many that develop kidney stones are prone to calcium deficiency
  • take at least 300-400 mg/day of magnesium to level ratio of calcium to magnesium of 1:1
  • add vitamin B6 foods into diet or supplements–deficiencies of B6 can lead to kidney stones
  • Limit sugar intake
  • Eat less meat

I know all these charts can be overwhelming, but it provides one with a clear picture of how many various ways kidney stones can be formed and how many sources of oxalate are in everyday foods.  If you believe you’re at risk of developing kidney stones, monitor your oxalate, calcium and vitamin C intake and your urine output.


A Thousand THANK YOU’s

Original Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr
Original Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

I know those post-its don’t contain every language spoken that have passed this blog, but it sums up well how far we’ve come with this blog.  There are viewers from U.S. to Kuwait to Singapore to Slovakia.  On behalf of We Dish Nutrition, I would like to thank everyone who has checked out, read, perused, followed, advertised and/or has had any influence or relation to We Dish Nutrition. I’m proud to state we’ve surpassed 1000 hits on our site and each reader has contributed to that number, obviously.

I can’t thank Dana Baardsen enough for including me in this blog and I’m grateful to see how far it’s come. Personally, I want this blog to bring awareness to aspects of nutrition and provide everyone with a place they can come and garner information, different perspectives while walking away feeling good about themselves.  I can tell I’ve grown since this blog started in January–everything from my writing style to wanting to portray the best communication style.

Again, thanks to all that have checked out the blog.  I’ve become emotionally attached to this blog, wanting to put my best foot forward and providing applicable information to readers.  I’m grateful for all those have taken a few seconds out of their day to not only read the blog, but have positive feedback about it as well.   As always, if you have any suggestions or want us to blog about something in particular, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Connect with us via email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or here!

What’s Your Reward System?

Original Image by GotCredit via Flickr
Original Image by GotCredit via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

You know when you know something, but until the information’s presented to you, you don’t really acknowledge the information or “know” the information?  Do you understand what I’m saying?  Does that ever happen to you?  That happens to me more often than I’d like to think.

When my father was put on a liquid diet last year to help with inflammation and his problems with GERD that didn’t just change our family dynamics, but made me realize how much food is a part of our lives.  Sounds like a dumb realization?  However, if you think about it, how many events, gatherings, rewards, coping mechanisms in your life revolve around food?

There are more times than I can count where I suggested that my parents and I go grab food as a “reward” for something great that had happened in the past week.  My mother always has her head on straight and would constantly have to remind me that Dad wouldn’t be able to eat anything and it wasn’t realistic or considerate to expect him to sit there while we enjoyed the food in front of him.  I wouldn’t consider myself an inconsiderate person, but society has ingrained in us to equate celebration and reward with food.

Just tonight, it was my last counseling class and what did we do celebrate the end of the grueling semester?  Everyone brought in food!  I’m sure if you’ve got a large social circle and vast amount of family members, the celebrations are endless.  Although it’s great to catch up with friends and family, why does it always have to be surrounded by food?

Food’s basic premise is for fuel for the body, but as a society, we have groomed our minds to equate food with all social events.  Even more somber events, such as funerals.  You can’t have a funeral without some food, can you?  That’s just not socially acceptable.

My goal for myself and all the readers to move away from the mindset of having food at every event, every pitfall, every celebration, etc. With every day’s challenges and rewards bound to bring some reason to celebrate or grumble, our waistline will not win that battle.  This constant reward system can become a viscous cycle for some.  For example, they can’t help but “treat” themselves with the new promotion at work, doing well on a  paper or treating their girlfriends out.  Then with all this spending and eating out, they become upset with themselves and wallow in the fact they weren’t able to handle self control.

Has that ever happened to you?  Feeling guilty about eating that extra bite just because you could, not because you were hungry?  As stated before, being healthy is a mind, body and soul lifestyle.  My point isn’t to decrease your awards, every one deserves a pat on the back once in a while, but lessening the dependence on food related rewards will provide you with a clearer conscious and healthier eating habits.  Another plus, your wallet will thank you and you can do some other great “rewarding” things in your life.  Check out some healthier, non food related rewards that you may be interested in incorporating into your life.

Healthier rewards:

  • Take a relaxing bubble bath
  • Meditate
  • Change up your hairstyle
  • Dance party!
  • Go on a trip you’ve been putting off–anything from locally to internationally
  • Dive into a favorite guilty pleasure show
  • Getting a manicure
  • Go for after the dinner stroll
  • Spend quality time with the kids

What rewards have helped you in the past and present?

Diabetic Snackin’

By: Nikki Nies

I recently talked to someone who has type II diabetes and she saw me eating my regular peanut butter and apple snack.  She said that’d be a great snack for her to eat as well.  She said it looked so delicious and even ate two of my apple slices.  I love it when people enjoy the simple snacks I have.

I became interested in what other snacks suggestions I could not only use to diversify my snacking, but great snacks for diabetics as well.

Here we go–5 grams or less of carbohydrates: Image

  • 5 baby carrots 
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 1 frozen sugar free popsicle
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 string cheese stick
  • 1/4 half of avocado
  • 16 green olives
  • 1 cup of light popcorn
  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin or sunflower seeds

10-20 g of carbohydrates

  •  1/2 cup of almonds
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit and nut mix
  • 1 small orange or apple
  • 1 cup of chicken, tomato or vegetable soup
  • 2 rice cakes + 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of tuna salad + 4 saltines
  • 1/2 turkey sandwich
  • 1 cheese quesadilla–1/4 cup of salsa, 1 oz. shredded cheese
  • 5 whole wheat crackers + 1 string cheese

About 30 g of carbohydrates–good pre-exercise

  • 1 banana + PB 
  • 1 english muffin + 1 teaspoon of margarine
  • 1/2 peanut butter sandwich + 1 cup of milk
  • 3/4 whole grain, ready to eat cereal + 1/2 cup of milk

These snack suggestions may sound obvious, but when grocery shopping or grazing your cabinets, remember these quick tips.  Maybe print out a copy of this list and have it on your fridge for a quick reference?  Good luck!


Picture Source:

Exciting Time for Nutrition Field!

Original Image by Coqui the Chef via Flickr
Original Image by Coqui the Chef via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies has come out with their yearly rankings of best jobs for 2013.  The criteria focused on physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook.  Where do Dietitians rank in a 200 job list?  #16!

Obviously, as a nutrition student, I’m biased and looked quickly to see where Dietitian’s stand in the ranking.  I’m excited to see we’re creeping closer to the top 10.  Who knows where we’ll be in a year in the rankings.

My intention is to highlight the across the board need for dietitians.  I’m grateful based on the above criteria listed that dietitians are being recognized as “great” career.  With the baby boomer population growing every year and the rising rates of obesity, the need for dietitians is becoming ever increasing.

Nutrition is a very intricate, complex field, but I’m excited for the future and confident all this hard work will pay off to give back and help people revamp their lifestyles.  If any of you are on the fence about joining the nutrition field, don’t fret.  The last five years in healthcare and preventive care has grown so much and there’s still so much more growth.  If you want to chat about future paths in the nutrition field, don’t hesitate to contact

Earth Day!

By: Nikki Nies

Original Image by Kate Ter Haar via Flickr
Original Image by Kate Ter Haar via Flickr

HAPPY EARTH DAY! How’d you celebrate this day?  Isn’t it a pity everything isn’t nationally recognized as Earth Day?  Even if it’s only socially acceptable to celebrate this Earth every April 22nd, doesn’t mean the Earth won’t be grateful for treating it well.  How often do you want to get outside more to tend to your garden?  You don’t recycle because it’s a hassle?  There are everyday small changes one can make to not only lessen their carbon foot print, but make this Earth a better place for themselves, families and for future generations.

Check out your carbon footprint. You’ll be sadly amazed!

Suggestions to make every day a day of celebration of this great Earth:

  • Buy locally–not only supporting local, small businesses, but increased guarantee of freshness
  • Take reusable bags whenever out and about
  • Invest in a reusable bottle for water or Brita filter
  • Plant and harvest your own garden–watch your fruits and veggies grow right before your eyes!
  • Window shop without taking any money–helps you evaluate difference between want and need–go back for things you can’t live without!
  • Take direct plane flight when possible–decrease fuel needed to travel
  • Use cold water when doing laundry as much as possible–takes less energy than to heat water
  • Plan ahead your travel route throughout day–try to kill two birds with one stone staying within local areas
  • Energy proof your house–making sure you’re up to par with energy saver materials

How many of the above suggestions are you already doing?  More than five?  Doing great!  Let’s see if you can add another eco-friendly habit into your everyday life and the world will thank you for it.  Also, take advantage of this day and learn more about ice glaciers, air pollution, deforestation, climate change–yes, it’s real and here to stay! These are all REAL problems at hand that can no longer be avoided.


Addictive Quality of Nicotine

By: Nikki Nies

Original Image by Maxwell GS via Flickr
Original Image by Maxwell GS via Flickr

Everyone knows smoking’s bad for you.  Our government and health organizations have gone to great strides to curb the number of people smoking.  However, heart disease is the number one killer of men and many diseases could be lessened or prevented if one does not smoke.  Smokers are the more susceptible to getting lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and asthma, etc.

I was curious to know what makes nicotine, the addictive part of cigarettes.  Many people I know want to kick the habit of smoking, but many succumb to relapse.  So, what is it about nicotine that gets “them.”  To better understand the biochemical aspect of how our bodies react to nicotine, health professionals can better cater to smoking population and work with them to completely quit and hopefully decrease the severity of many diseases.

Too much of anything is never good, but addiction, which is described as the continuation of a habit even though there is evidence of harm has been seen to occur with smokers.  Nicotine gives smokers a quick pleasing feeling, but coming down from the feeling can be detrimental to one health and can cause nicotine dependence–also known as an addiction of tobacco products.

Nicotine’s absorbed through the lungs since cigarette smoke’s acidic.  Conversely, pipe and cigar smoke is alkaline so it is not absorbed.

Although the addiction of nicotine is not associated with the same severity as heroine or cocaine, the impact can be just as powerful.  Nicotine’s considered a “reinforcing” drug, which means even though there are harmful effects, user’s come back for more.  On average, smokers need to smoke every 1-2 hours to “reinforce.”  Possible impact of nicotine on body:

  • May decrease appetite
  • Increased saliva and phlegm
  • May increase activity in intestines
  • Can increase blood pressure 5-10 mm Hg
  • Can increase heart rate 10-20 beats per minute
  • Brain waves altered
  • Constriction of blood vessels, causing a drop in temperature of extremities
  • May cause sweating, diarrhea and/or nausea

Those in defense of smoking, stating I don’t understand the concept of addiction or feel they’re not susceptible to these side effects don’t have to accept this information, but research has shown that these side effects are more common than not.  Just because you haven’t experienced these side effects yet, doesn’t mean you won’t.  Get ahead of the curve! Stop smoking before you develop heart disease and you’re required to change your habits, not because you want to, but because you have to!

Ways to quit:

  • Find a local support group
  • Discover what “triggers” you to smoke
  • Get the patch
  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Medications to lessen withdrawal symptoms

What tips have helped you curb your addiction to nicotine? What support do you lean on most?