~Flame Up Fajitas~


By: Nikki Nies

Been craving a meal with extra kick? Grab some peppers, sriracha and chicken and you’re ready to make this fajita recipe. I’m a fan of making recipes one’s own, so please use the following recipe as guidance on the type of marinade you could make for your fajitas.

Also, you can opt to eat the fajitas in the traditional corn tortilla or make a bed of perfect rice for the peppers, onions and chicken to lie on. Whatever you choose, the blandness of the carbohydrate will pair nicely with the sriracha sprayed fajitas.

Like many of the recipes I’ve shared on this blog, my mother gave me this recipe. I remember her telling me how it easy it was to make and I concur!

Ingredients:IMG_0373

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15 oz can Rotel
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/2 green pepper, cut into stripsIMG_8917

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Place chicken strips into a greased 13×9 baking dish. In a small bowl, combines oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano and salt.
  2. Drizzle spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat. Next add the tomatoes, peppers and onions to the dish. Stir.
  3. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.

I happened to have some salsa on hand, so I used salsa instead of Rotel for this recipe. I wasn’t sure what the consistency of the dish would be like and/or flavors would be off, but I was pleased to see the dish didn’t miss the rotel too much.  I also had yellow and orange peppers on hand instead of red and green, but that’s a minor swap.  Lastly, I noticed I had some cheddar cheese in the fridge, so I just topped the fajitas with cheddar cheese for a quick melt on top.

The best part of this recipe is that if you bake the fajitas wrapped in aluminum foil on a baking sheet the clean up is minor! What’s your take on fajitas? How do you make them their own? Any tips on how to improve this recipe?

Q&A with Sports Nutritionist: Dawn Jackson Blatner


unnamedBy: Nikki Nies

I recently had the pleasure to interview Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD (DJB), a sports dietitian based in Chicago, Illinois. On behalf of We Dish Nutrition (WDN), I enjoyed  checking out what Dawn’s been up to and learning more about what a sports dietitian does!  Thank you Dawn for taking the time to chat with me!

WDN: How do you approach or respond to others that seem to have a different food philosophy from you?

DJB: I trade judgment for curiosity. I ask questions, point out similarities to find common ground and I respectfully disagree when diet principles are based in fad instead of facts. I believe in real food, more fun and no B.S.

WDN: When you hear the word “Flexitarian” what immediately comes to mind?

DJB: Flexitarians are pro-plants, not anti-meat. I wrote The Flexitarian Diet because it’s how I eat. I’m a plant-loving vegetarian who is flexible enough to enjoy meat, poultry, and fish occasionally.

WDN: What are your key responsibilities as the nutrition consultant for the Chicago Cubs? How did you go about becoming a consultant for them?

DJB: This is my 6th season as the Chicago CUBS nutrition consultant and every season has been so different. Here are some examples of what I do: Develop recipes & review menus, meet with players individually, give team talks, post inspirational nutrition signs, and create fun ways to present healthy food such as a superfood smoothie station & superfood travel packs.

I love this saying: “Let success find you based on your incredible energy for serving.” I got the initial job interview because the team doctor heard about my hard work & enthusiasm for helping people (word of mouth). I got the job because I was authentic – honest about what skills & passions I have (and don’t have).

WDN: What advice do you have for students and other RDs looking to enter the sports nutrition field?

DJB: Start now! Start doing sports nutrition for anybody. Write about it in your gym’s newsletter, donate a handout for a kids soccer league, create presentations for your yoga studio – get creative. Jobs come to those who are DOING – it doesn’t matter where you start – just start serving. Also, get INVOLVED in the Academy’s SCAN DPG to be around inspiring people & events.

WDN: While each athletes’ nutrition needs may differ, what is one core recommendation you provide to all your clients?

DJB_about dawnDJB: Food is energy. Junk food = junk energy. Clean food = clean energy. Don’t get worked up about the details, get the big things right: Sleep, hydrate and enjoy a variety of nourishing, real food.

WDN: What do you find to be the biggest barriers for people to overcome unhealthy eating habits in the time crunched, rushed society we live in?

DJB: Biggest barrier: They don’t make it fun. Magical things happen when people are excited about what they are doing. “Saying you don’t have time is like saying you don’t want to.” So, I encourage clients to think about what they actually WANT to change…and then it’s easier for them to make the time.

WDN: How do you juggle all of your responsibilities? As a nutrition consultant for the Cubs, as a food and nutrition blogger with Huffington Post, as a nutrition expert on the advisory board of Fitness Magazine while maintaining a fantastic website and balancing work and life responsibilities?

DJB: I slow down, to do more. I used to feel panicked and anxious. Now, I breathe & mindfully prioritize one thing at a time. Advice I follow: Enjoy the process of work, don’t just work for the outcome. Meaning, instead of just rushing to check things off my to-do list, I enjoy doing the little daily tasks. Makes for much more joy in work & life.

DJB_let's work togetherWDN: What projects are you currently working on?

DJB: I just finished my new book featuring a new, FUN approach to eat more superfoods (out in 2016). I’m currently working on an interactive online nutrition course for clients who want my philosophy in a self-study format instead of private sessions. Oh and I launched my new website, I’d love for you to check it out: www.dawnjacksonblatner.com.

Want to learn more about Dawn? Connect with her today! Facebook | Twitter  | Pinterest | Instagram | Nutrition W.O.W. Newsletter Contact

Photo Credit: Dawn Jackson Blatner

Cauliflower Pizza Dough


IMG_3639By: Nikki Nies

I’ve written several times before how I enjoy cooking for my friends. This includes catering to their food and diet needs. I’ve been gleefully challenged by the need to make gluten free pasta, bread and most recently pizza! As we all know, for those with gluten intolerances or sensitivities, it can be a headache trying to find foods to eat.

Thankfully, this is where cauliflower can enter the picture. As a low calorie, versatile vegetable, cauliflower is a great substitute for flour! You don’t have to be gluten free to enjoy cauliflower pizza crust, if you run out of flour for home made pizza dough, homemade cauliflower pizza dough is a great alternative! Since cauliflower lacks much flavor, it absorbs the flavors that are combined with it, so add on the veggie  toppings!

My initial try at cauliflower pizza crust didn’t turn out so well! While I intended to make pizza, the concoction came out more like a casserole-not taking too much shape. Yet, my friend, Kaitlyn Brown and her family came to the rescue, experimenting with the cauliflower pizza dough idea and they’ve graciously shared their recipe with me.

Ingredients: IMG_7200

  • 1 pound cauliflower florets, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • seasoning either parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese. You can use broccoli with the cauliflower to give it more taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Meanwhile chop up cauliflower until finely chopped. Place chopped cauliflower in microwave for 5 minutes or until tender.
  2. Place cauliflower in towel and squeeze out excess water so it is completely dry. In a bowl, mix egg and cauliflower until well combined. This is when you can add additional seasonings to pizza, such as parmesan cheese
  3. Once mixed, line pizza pan or baking sheet and spread cauliflower dough until it resembles a pizza round. Bake 40 minutes.
  4. Once “cauliflower” is done, top with sauce and other toppings, cook 7 more minutes until cheese and toppings have melted.

Recipe adapted from Emily Brown

I can understand why you would shy away from the concept of cauliflower in your pizza. I, myself, probably wouldn’t have tried it either if it weren’t for my friend that is gluten free, but it’s delicious and packed with an extra serving of vegetables! In addition, it’s a great twist on a family favorite! Get your kids, husband or wife in the kitchen with you and share toppings all around! Enjoy!

Seventh Day Adventist’s Mindful Practices


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Original Image by Bobbi Bowers via Flickr

 

By: Nikki Nies

While studying for my RD exam, I’ve come across and have been quizzed on various ethnic cultures and dietary restrictions. As you have seen, I’ve read more about dietary practices during the Lenten season and have delved further into what Kosher really means. Up until now, I’ve had a pretty good idea about what those dietary practices entailed, but the diet of Seventh Day Adventist is foreign to me. Do you feel the same way? Not quite sure what Seventh Day Adventist means?

Join me in the fun of learning all the details now! While the Seventh Day Adventist church promotes autonomy, the relationships in the church are meant to call one another higher, to live as positive examples of God’s love and devotion. In regards to diet and health, this means:

  • Gluttony and excess are to limited
  • The key to wellness is balance and temperance
  • Limit alcohol, tobacco and mind altering drugs, which can affect clear minds and wise choices
  • It’s believed a well balanced vegetarian diet that emphasizes legumes, whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and sources of vitamin B12 will promote optimal health
  • Like the MyPlate guidelines, Adventists are advised to limit processed foods, sugar, sugar substitutes and food additives.

To remind you, a vegetarian diet has more benefits than the costs of the abstinence of meat. A vegetarian diet continues to provide evidence of lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes,obesity and/or high blood pressure.

Being vegetarian isn’t a requirement to be part of the Seventh Day Adventist church, yet many of the church go beyond the vegetarian diet,either eating raw foods or vegan. One of its founders, ellen White’s vision for the Seventh Day Adventist included eight principles for a healthy lifestyle: fresh air, sunshine, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, nutrition, water and trust in a divine power. The second part of the White’s vision included the establishment and devotion of health reform, health education and treating the ill in a new way.

As you can see, Seventh Day Adventist’s dietary practices are very similar to those of vegetarians, if not more strict. I’m proud to see the founder, White’s vision and principles for the church have been upheld since inception in the 1860s. For any of you that are practicing Seventh Day Adventist’s are there any key practices that I’ve missed? What personal practices do you follow in your daily life?

Sources: http://www.adventist.org/vitality/health/

http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/ http://www.seventhdayadventistdiet.com/

https://www.adventistarchives.org/fundamental-beliefs-of-seventh-day-adventists.pdf

Georgia ACE 2015


IMG_9321By: Nikki Nies

I’ve been in the Greater Atlanta area for less than two weeks, but I’ve attended my first Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics state conference this week! I didn’t plan the move to coincide with this conference, but not bad timing, if I do say myself!  The Georgia Annual Conference & Exhibition (ACE) was on Wednesday March 18th and Thursday March 19th in Augusta, Georgia and was not only a great wealth of information, but had a bountiful of opportunities to connect with fellow colleagues and nutrition leaders.

During the conference, I scribbled pages of notes, as I wanted to retain what I learned and I knew I wanted to share with you some of the emerging trends.  The conference was refreshing, with me returning home recharged with ideas and information! Some of the information I learned:

  • ~25% of those with eczema develop food allergies, as eczema’s known as the “Allergic March”;
  • Registered Dietitians are equipped with the necessary food science lingo and  but are not taught as much about representing themselves well.  For those considering entering private practice, hiring a(n) (entertainment) lawyer to review contracts between two parties can help protect a brand and make sure both parties are on the same page;
  • While ongoing and continued research is a must, a lot of digestive and nutrition issues are being found to be related, exacerbated and/or due to altered microbiome. I have a lot of reading to do to catch up on the latest science, but it’s not a coincidence that the gut keeps popping up in conversations!
  •  Office Ally is an user friendly free online billing system that provides interactive internet based solutions, allowing for patient care from the point of contact in the physicians office to receiving payment from the insurance companies and providing overall care management from the IPAs and Health Plans; IMG_9318
  • While my time in Georgia has been short, I’m appreciative of the great network of RDs! In particular, Ms. Sherry Coleman Collins, MS,RDN,LD, the founder of Southern Fried Nutrition, has embraced me, introducing me to fellow RDs, sitting down with me to give suggestions on how to start my career and sharing how she juggles her business and passions in nutrition! My point is, I met Sherry via Twitter while I was still residing in Illinois, but felt more at ease coming to GA knowing there was at least one friendly face in the area! She’s a great advocate of the nutrient field and I’m proud to call her a colleague!
  • Emory Healthcare has been an advocate of sustainable food practices, enlisting a chef that has a flare for sustainability, creating their own garden and educating their staff on the importance and the how to of composting.
  • Many complain about the average salary of RDs, but there may be more harm than good that comes with RDs providing services, such as presentations, reviews and/or counseling at a lower rate than deserved. By knowing one’s value, what unique qualities they bring to the table can help RDs identify what ratio of services to charges they should be providing. Also, by talking to fellow colleagues about fee standards can give one the confidence needed to charge the appropriate price.

Where ever you may be residing, I hope you have the opportunity to attend a local, state and/or national conference, like FNCE, to connect with others in the industry and to learn what the latest news and trends are. These conferences allow you to use your networking skills to the fullest and potentially ignite new projects and ideas! I’m excited to get back to the drawing board and put into action all that I’ve learned in the past two days! Happy learning!

Sources: http://www.eatrightgeorgia.org/events-calendar/annual-meeting.html

http://www.eatrightgeorgia.org/images/downloads/ace_2015_registration_packet.pdf

Ketogenic Diets


By: Nikki Nies

While the title of this blog post is “Ketogenic Diets”, the word ‘diet’ may be presumed to be synonymous with the Atkins diet.   Yet, the word ‘diet’ may be misperceived in this instance. imagesTherefore, for this post, diet means medical nutrition therapy. Those with nervous system or neurological disorders (i.e. epilepsy) could benefit from ketogenic consumption.

The ketogenic diet is comprised of high fat, low carbohydrate intake.  Since ketone bodies behave as inhibitory neurotransmitters, mild dehydration is needed to prevent dilution of ketones.  A 4:1 ratio of fat to non-fat grams is recommended. A ketogenic diet contains 70-90% fat and the remainder as protein and carbohydrates.

One will also need calcium, vitamin D, folate, vitamin B6 and B12 supplements. MCTs are more ketogenic, more rapidly metabolized and absorbed. MCTs alleviate some of the obstacles of compliance and acceptance. Patients and clients should be aware that this high fat diet can lead to slower growth, even with overall calorie restriction, which is supposed to increase efficacy of ketogenic diet.

The ketogenic diet mimics the fasting state and has been found to successfully treat seizures. However, it may be unpalatable. Stimulants, like coffee, tea, colas and alcohol are to be limited.  With an adequate amount of fiber and fluid, this can aid in the relief of constipation.  A gradual change is diet is advised and it’s important  to note cough syrups, laxatives and certain medications can contain large amounts of carbohydrates, so one should monitor interactions with the diet.

Furthermore, with a high fat diet, this can lead to nausea and vomiting. A small drink of fruit juice can mediate such symptoms. If you’re in the need to increase long chain triglycerides, by adding sour cream, whipped cream, butter, margarine and/or oils can be added to desserts, casseroles and entrees. To use MCT, it’s advised to use in salad dressings, fruit juice, sandwich spreads (i.e. guacamole) and casseroles.

If you’re apprehensive about the ketogenic diet, a low glycemic index is considered a less strict route, with more liberal total carbohydrate intake. If hyperuricemia or hypercalciuria, increase fluid intake and consider using diuretics.

Photo Credit:Lurie Children’s

Sources:http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/ketogenic-diet-plan.html

http://www.uwhealth.org/healthfacts/nutrition/517.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19049580

http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet

USDA Thrifty Food Program


FoodPlans_LandingPageBy: Nikki Nies

The USDA Thrifty Food Program (TFP) may not be as well known as the Food Stamp program, but it is a critical aspect of the four part (Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal) USDA food plan that is the framework of the allocated Food Stamp benefits. Of the four food plans, TFP is the least expensive and is calculated on a monthly basis using data collected from the Consumer Price Index.

The monthly cost used for TFP represents a national average of expenditures-deriving from the traditional four person household, composed of an adult couple and two school aged children, which is adjusted to reflect economies of scales. TFP is priced every June, with a set maximum benefit level for the following October.  TFP represents a healthful way to utilize one’s Food Stamp benefits on a modest budget.

The TFP calculator is used to learn about the tradeoffs between nutrition costs of food and quality. The calculator is a tool that helps USDA nutritionists and economists develop the TFP.  The maximum benefit awarded in the Food Stamp Program is based on the cost of TFP which takes in consideration trends in food prices, characteristics and consumer spending behavior. A mathematical algorithm is used to decide how much is awarded to recipients. Don’t worry, families don’t have to know how to calculate their awarded benefits to receive the benefits!

Yet, the above information is interesting to note, especially if you are curious about how the amount one’s awards for food stamps is curated.

Photo Credit: USDA

Sources: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans1999ThriftyFoodPlanAdminReport.pdf

https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=355&id=5202

http://www.nutrition.tufts.edu/research/thrifty-food-plan-calculator

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/page/usdas-low-cost-food-plan