Why and How to Add Cold Brew To the Mix!

Original Image by Nina Nelson via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

I hope you enjoyed a coffee or two yesterday during #NationalCoffeeDay! I sure did! Is it just me or did the concept of cold brew coffee come out of no where? Not only is it all the craze at mainstream Starbucks, but local coffee shops seem to be popping up with the concept too. Perhaps, I’m late to the ballgame, but it’s evident this type of coffee is here to stay and I need to better understand not only the process, but the hows and whys.

Those new to the cold brew game may mistake it for the traditional iced coffee, but there is a difference! While iced coffee is made with hot brewed coffee’s that been cooled down, traditional cold brew coffee has been steeped in room temperature or chilled water, with the coffee infusing throughout the mixture over time. Fans of cold brew describe it as having a more mellow, less acidic taste, which is better for you teeth and those with heartburn may find cold brew options easier to digest.

Cold brew requires twice as much ground coffee to obtain the right flavor and caffeine, requiring shops to charge more for the extra labor and brew.  Yes, the first cold brew apparatus was created in 1964, but until the last couple of years, it’s been a niche or true coffee lover’s dream. While studies of cold brew’s benefits are still thimble, health claims state it contains less caffeine than iced and/or hot counterparts. When researchers used Starbucks’ regular coffee blend, the cold brew was found to have 40 mg of caffeine per 100 g while store brewed Starbucks coffee had 61 per 100 g. Why might you want to limit your caffeine intake you ask? According to the National Institutes of Health, large amounts can be a hindrance to women and children and lead to osteoporosis of fibrocystic disease.

Gone are the days where the barista asks if you want iced or hot coffee. Now with the cold brew option added to the mix, the options have multiplied ten fold.  Worried about how cold brew stacks up in comparison to regular hot or iced coffee, there are minor differences with neither coming out on top significantly more than another. So, if you’re up for it, take a sip of the

Sources: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/whatever-happened-to-plain-iced-coffee-cold-brew/2016/09/02/ecad64e0-5fe7-11e6-8e45-477372e89d78_story.html




When in España…

IMG_9999By: Nikki Nies

I had the pleasure of spending 10 days in Madrid, Seville, Granada and Barcelona, Spain. This retreat from daily responsibilities was a superb way to learn and better understand Spanish culture, food and tradition.

While there, I was taking note of the similarities and differences between American and Spanish culture. On the plane there, I was quickly reminded that the Spanish work to live, unlike the American reputation and often times reality, that we live to work. This statement rang true from city to city. Not only was a greeted with kindness everywhere I went, but the infectious enthusiasm and zest was much needed.

Perceptions can be far from reality, so I went to Spain with as open as a mind as could. Since back from my trip, I realize that I enjoy the Spanish “clock.” Most services aren’t offered before 8AM, with lunch far from starting prior to 2PM and dinner well into 9-11PM.

Cultural and food traditions I took away:

  • As a good reference of time, the metro’s first departure is 730AM. I’m sure you’re familiar with how American public transportation, with life and business available well before 6AM
  • Breakfast consists of a small coffee and a (chocolate) croissant, it’s rare for a cafe to be open before 8-9AM.
  • Bocadillos, or sandwiches, are a quick, easy way to eat on the run! With cheese and Iberian ham, you can’t go wrong. These can be eaten for a heavier, yet acceptable breakfast item or as a snack
  • IMG_9635Spaniards are not afraid, if anything, encourage sugar consumption. While in Madrid, I stopped in a cafe and noticed that instead of the traditional salt and pepper I’m used to seeing on tables, the table had granulated sugar, brown sugar, a sugar substitute and salt. More times than not, there was no pepper to be seen. Additionally, when ordering coffee, even if not requested, sugar was always given
  • The drink of choice is beer. There’s no such thing as ordering tap water, with bottled, mineral water offered if requested. Diet soda is not an option either, with Coca Cola and Fanta the norm
  • With the beaches and Mediterranean Sea near, fresh seafood is a common find on menus. In particular, fried calamari or garlic in prawns were prevalent and served in large portions. It’s safe to say that seafood is in abundance!
  • Pastries are a common means for dessert. A Spanish dessert staple consists of churros that are dipped in chocolate. IMG_0027
  • Fresh produce can be found in day markets and the street vendors are eager to share their latest, freshest produce. You don’t have to travel far to
  • While vegetables are scant, the Spanish have impressively been able to keep their figure. Tapas are a great portion control way to maintain one’s recommended intake.
  • I was intrigued by the Spaniards’ lack of need to “finish” their plates. Unlike Americans, I noticed many times people would leave a bit of their beer, coffee or food on their plate, not feeling the need to “clean” it.

I’m reenergized from this relaxing trip! What aspects of Spanish cuisine do you most revel in? If you’ve traveled to Spain, what different experiences have you had?

The Life of Ginger Hultin, MS, RD, LDN

gingerBy: Nikki Nies

Since moving to the Greater Chicago area, I can’t applaud the value of the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND) valiant efforts to provide resources, connections and some good ‘ol fun to its members!

Recently, We Dish Nutrition (WDH) had the pleasure to interview CAND’s President, Ginger Hultin, MS, RD, LDN, a Registered Dietitian at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, IL.  In addition, she’s been busy coordinating future CAND events, getting ready for the holidays and has even squeezed in a trip to Myanmar! apple

WDN: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a RD?

GH: I love being a dietitian so much. Working closely with clients over time, I get to see the amazing changes they can make. Gaining or losing weight, getting a clean cancer scan, improving labs or curing nutritional deficiencies…any of this is possible when I get to work with someone and see them often. It’s rewarding to see someone empowered that they can improve their health through nutrition!

WDN: What is some of the background work that goes into being a RD at the Block Center? [i.e. what are some responsibilities and/or duties one may not realize is part of your job?]

GH: The Block Center is a very unique place to be a dietitian, but one that allows me to use the skills I worked to develop at Bastyr University where I did my graduate work. For example, the dietitians cook four days per week for our patients and their families; we have a fantastic demo kitchen and I develop recipes and cook for 10-30 people when I’m there! I also specialize in supplementation, namely vitamins, minerals and other natural products that are research-based to help treat deficiencies, lower inflammation, stimulate the immune system or whatever else my patients might need (based on blood labs, of course!). Having a background in research is critical to working in oncology environment and this is another big part of my job. Cancer research changes constantly so combing articles daily is part of what I do to stay current.

WDN: For those interested in learning more about the oncology concentrated aspect of the nutrition field, how can they learn more? 

GH: I would start by joining the Oncology Dietetic Practice Group: http://www.oncologynutrition.org/. They are a fantastic resource for new research, webinars, an annual symposium and nutrition resources. Other than that, I love the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics book Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice, published in 2013. It gives a broad approach to all aspects of nutrition oncology including medical nutrition therapy for different types of cancers. Finally, as we know that people with cancer are hugely interested, statistically, in complementary and alternative medicine, I use Natural Medicines Database almost daily in my practice:  http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/home.aspx?cs=&s=ND.

WDN: What exciting things are planned with CAND for 2015?

GH: The Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has been on fire this year!  We have National Nutrition Month events in March with a special meeting to celebrate “RD Day” mid-month. Policy leaders from our organization will be attending Illinois State Advocacy Day in Springfield and we have a fantastic line up for the State Spring Assembly in April where several of our members will be earning prestigious Academy awards at a special educational dinner. CAND has two more education dinners for our members and I’m hoping that we can participate in a spring run or walk to help raise money for a charitable organization – with all of our physically active members, I think it makes sense to set a positive example in the community, as we have been doing all year at nutrition events around the city. I’m also really excited about CAND’s social media – we have a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest to help connect our members in so many ways.

CAND image 2 (1)WDN: What opportunities are available for CAND members that not as many people know about?

GH: Great question – there are many!  First off, aside from the educational meetings, all members are always invited to attend board meetings. It is more exciting than it seems to see how the organization is ran and also a great way to become more involved. Our website is really a wonderful resource that we’ve worked hard on; we have an active blog (which members can post to!), a speakers bureau, and job/volunteer postings which we update weekly both on the website and in e-blasts. Some of my members miss out on the e-blasts when they go to “Social” boxes in Gmail so be sure to pull over those important pieces of CAND communication. Joining a committee is easy; all you have to do is reach out to me and I can connect you with the next meeting of whichever group you are interested in becoming involved with. We have about 10 very active committees within the organization that are always looking for new talent

WDN: You recently spent three weeks in Myanmar, what made you choose to visit this country as your vacation? What was your impression of the culture, food and the people?

GH: Myanmar was an incredible experience. As the country very recently opened to tourism due to a change in government control a few years ago, we thought it would be an opportunity to experience a somewhat unchanged culture because of their limited access to outside influences. The culture is predominantly Buddhist and this is a very important aspect of daily life for Myanmar.  Myanmar is also one of the safest places I’ve ever traveled; we had so much fun taking pictures with curious local people and experiencing their daily lives. The food was absolutely delicious – noodle and rice based, they have an emphasis on vegetables including different greens, cabbage, broccoli and hot peppers and serve egg in almost every dish. They offer a lot of seafood dishes including fish-based soups and have the most delicious tofu which is made from chickpeas instead of soybeans.

WDN: What was your most memorable meal in Myanmar?

GH: There is a state in Myanmar called Shan State and the people there are Thai decedents. Shan noodles are a staple dish served with tomato sauce, crushed peanuts and lots of garlic. The noodles are spicy and served with broth on the side, and even though the daily temperatures reach into the 90’s and above, eating hot soup for lunch and dinner is strangely satisfying. I hope to learn how to make Shan noodles at home if I can.

WDN: What do your future travel plans entail?

GH: I have a lot of US travel planned this year; I try to go somewhere new every month if I can. Also, I cannot WAIT to go back to Southeast Asia. I would love to visit Myanmar again, maybe to stay and work in a school there for awhile. I am also fascinated by Vietnam and Cambodia.  I have a dream of visiting China as well, hopefully in the near future.

WDN: What’s a holiday tradition that your family continues today?

GH: We always play board games!  Now that we’re adults, this might also include drinking red wines from Washington State, where I’m from originally. It’s fun to try new games each year – the ones with a lot of interaction are best and I really enjoy spending this time with my parents, brothers, husband and close family friends.

tahiniWDN: What’s your favorite food? How do you take your coffee?

GH: Spicy food – Pho, enchiladas, tofu, pizza….I love it all!  I am a veggie so I’m always trying new vegetarian restaurants around Chicago. Being from Seattle, coffee is important to me. I have a cup or two a day and take just a splash of almond or soy milk on top.

Thanks Ginger for this enjoyable and informative interview! We sincerely appreciate your hard work and dedication to the dietetics profession!

Best Coffee Cities

gallery-full-roasterBy: Nikki Nies

There’s often controversy over whether coffee is good for you or not.  While critics sort that out, I’m going to go with the “innocent” until proven guilty theory in regards to the benefits of coffee since I owe a lot of my own sanity to the carafes of coffee over the years! With that said, I’m definitely more particular about my coffee than let’s say the brand of garbage bags I choose.

Thankfully, my trusty Time magazine has come out with a new list of Best Coffee Cities!  Take a look below at the list: 12bcbf7b654e9a9272d3374d2e8efe12

  1. Portland, Oregon with Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Coava and Water Avenue Coffee : This city has again topped the list of “best coffee” due to it’s vibrant variety of coffees.  Stumptown Coffee Roasters has thankfully expanded beyond Oregon.  While, Coava is a single origin roaster and Water Avenue Coffee offers $1 sidecar shot espressos.
  2. Seattle, Washington with Slate Coffee Roasters or Convoy Coffee, which  offers  bike-powered coffee cart with pour-overs, AeroPress, and iced coffee. Or check out the interactive Starbucks Reserve and Roastery and Tasting Room!
  3. Providence, Rhode Island with sweet “coffee milk” found at Dave’s Coffee.
  4. Albuquerque, New Mexico with its local flavor found at New Mexico Pinon Coffee Company.  Short coffee history classes, cupping and roasting demos are offered weekly or check out Golden Crown Panaderia, where one can indulge in a Coffee Milkshake with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and espresso!
  5. Houston, Texas with Siphon Coffee‘s offering of vacuum prepared coffees.  Or head over to the Revival Market that sells Houston based roaster Greenway.

After going through this list, what city is missing from the list? Yes, “best” is subjective, but what’re some non negotiable parameters you use when opting for different coffee flavors?

Photo Credit:The Roasterie and Pinterest 

Sources: http://time.com/3506334/best-coffee-cities/

Cap Coffee Creamers

almond-joy-delight-creamerBy: Nikki Nies

With holiday blends of creamers available for limited editions and the enticing labels of “sweet, creamy” labels, it’s understandable why you can’t pass up those bottles in your local grocery store.  However, have you thought about what that creamer is made of and that it may be adding extra calories and sugar you’re not acknowledging? These creamers are also known as “non dairy” creamers, which is an oxymoron and may lead some to think twice about what they are pouring into coffee. My point isn’t to take away the fun with coffee, as I’m an avid fan of flavored coffee, but to bring awareness of everything you consume, including creamers!

Obviously, depending on the amount of creamer you use will depend on what adjustments you need to make with creamer use.  If you’re like my friend who dumps about 1/2 cup of creamer in her morning joe, perhaps, she needs to decrease creamer use than you do!  Furthermore, some brands are now carrying products that contain a blend of nonfat milk, cream, sugar and flavorings that are lower in calories than past offerings.

Yet, it’s important to note that these creamers have 0% “actual cream” and are made of a combination of partially hydrogenated oil, sugar, sodium, food coloring and thickeners.  While many brands tout themselves as offering sugar and/or fat free versions, many times artificial sweeteners are added in.Yes, most creamers are lactose free and gluten free, but many products still contain casein, a milk protein that can still cause someone with lactose intolerance and/or milk allergies some trouble. Bottles can be labeled “lactose” and/or milk free, but still contain casein.  Make sure to read the nutrition fact label thoroughly just in case! Additionally, there are soy based creamers available for vegans and those alike, just may have to search a little more! Homemade-Vanilla-Coffee-Creamer

Again, the measurement of moderation may be numerically different for you than it is for me. Still want to add some creamer to your coffee? Make your own homemade vanilla bean creamer today!

Photo Credit: AndCute and Beverage Universe 

Sources: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Suppliers2/CSPI-warns-about-coffee-creamers








Pumpkin Spice Latte Healthy Style!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Healthy Style!

With pumpkin season in full swing, don’t let the name of pumpkin spice latte fool you into thinking it’s a complicated thing to make.  Don’t hesitate to try this healthier version of a coveted drink that’s as easy to make as it is delicious to drink!

Photo Credit: Anytime Fitness 

10 Starbucks Drinks that Won’t Blow Your Diet


Source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/465278205225821587/

Pros and Cons of Coffee Consumption

Pros and Cons of Coffee Consumption

Unfortunately, there are some cons to this ubiquitous aspect of many daily lives, mine included.

Sugar It Naturally!


By: Nikki Nies

I’ve had many posts on sugar, the impact of sugar, high blood glucose levels, etc.  And yes, here’s another one for you.  As many of you know, sugar is a very real, valid addiction and having information on sugar is needed to keep the sugar intake at bay.  High intakes of sugar can not only lead to obesity, but diabetes, sugar crash, dental caries, hyperactivity and many other preventable issues.

I know it’s unrealistic to cut sugar out of your diet, it’s important to be reminded from time to time that there are some great sugar substitutes.  As with anything, moderation is key.  Using natural sugar doesn’t mean dousing your meals with syrup, but you can feel better about what you’re eating instead of opting for those artificial sweeteners.

Natural Sugar Description Suggested Used
Agave Nectar Tastes similar to honey; contains high fructose content, so use moderately Great for hot or iced tea;
Maple Syrup Comes directly from plant sap; contains over 50 antioxidants Granola, waffles
Lemon  Provides a nice squeeze of acid  Use in hot tea or iced tea
Honey Antioxidant rich Hot tea, homemade salad dressing
Applesauce Naturally sweet Use applesauce in substitution for white sugar;  great dessert
Erythritol Sugar alcohol; 0.2 kcal/g; white powder from a plant occurs naturally in fruits; doesn’t lead to tooth decay Use in chocolate baked goods (i.e. brownies)
Raisins Antioxidant and fiber rich Use in any baked goods
Cinnamon No calories included, adds a subtle taste of sweetness, boosts immunity Great in coffee, baked goods and tea
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder Use a splash in warm milk or hot water; add in vanilla as well
Reb A Derives from South American, natural extract from stevia plant, GRAS A lot goes a long way, put a few drops in the a bowl of oatmeal
Cranberries Tart antioxidants Replace sugar with cranberries in muffins or scones
Dates Have low glycemic index, antioxidiant rich Substitute 2/3 for 1 cup of regular sugar; use in granola bars or brownies
Grapefruit Provides a sweet and sour kick to dishes; provides daily dose of vitamin C Add to a cocktail over soda or tonic water
Coconut Sugar Made from sap of coconut flours; comes in block, paste or granulated form; loaded with potassium Add in to smoothies
Brown Rice Syrup Comes from brown rice; more nutritious than high fructose; buttery nuttery flavored syrup Works well in granola bars and baked breads
Rapadura Made from sugar cane, but skips the refining stage; retains vitamins and minerals lost when white sugar’s proceeded Keep 1:1 ratio when using instead of sugar
Lime Provides a tangy taste without extra sugar rush Perfect for a glass of sparkling water
Pureed Banana Eliminates the sugar Naturally becomes sweeter as it ripens, so no need to add extra sugar
Milk Natural sugar can add a touch of sweetness A little can go a long way in a cup of coffee
Yacon Syrup Sweetening agent extracted from yacon plant; has hints of apple and ½ the calories of cane sugar; sweet just like honey Works well in raw fruit smoothies or baked goods

We’re born with a natural liking for sweet foods.  If you keep on hand some natural sugars, hopefully over time you’re sugar intake from unnatural sources will decrease and you’ll limit your intake of artificial sweeteners, which can pack on additional calories.By the way, the sugar in fruit is one of the best sources of natural sugar.

Sources: http://greatist.com/health/30-sugar-substitutes-any-and-every-possible-situation


Barriers to Change

By: Nikki Nies

How’re your New Year’s resolutions coming along?   Do you remember what you initially sought out to improve on?   If you’re still carrying out your New Year’s resolution, that’s great! If not, having the goal to be the healthiest version of yourself is not a bad goal to have either.

Constant improvement of oneself is a great goal to have.  While people often put health professionals on a pedestal of health.  We all have traits and goals we can work on.   I’ve been thinking about what I want to improve on and publicly admitting makes one more accountable for said goals.

First, I know I drink an extensive extra amount of coffee than the recommended 3 cups maximum per day.  While other portion servings are more valid, my concept of a portion of coffee is skewed.  I don’t think coffee should be served in anything than less than 16 oz, but preferably closer to 24 oz.  While, I’ve cut out a lot of sweets (i.e. ice cream, cookies) in my regular diet due to my weekly grocery budget, I still use sugar in my coffee.  I don’t feel as guilty about the sugar packet I add to my coffee,  but I know if I drank it black, the coffee wouldn’t be a problem.

I know if it was a life or death matter, I could give up coffee, but it’s become like a third arm to me, it’s like drinking water in the morning.  I fully recognize that I have a slight coffee addiction, but am nowhere means willing to decrease to the intended 6 oz. servings.  Perhaps, when I’m done with dietetic internship? Probably, not.

However, there’s another part of my life I know I need to make better efforts.  While this blog emphasizes nutrition’s role in good health, exercise is an equally important part of the equation.  While I see myself as an active person, I definitely don’t get the recommended minutes of  daily physical activity.

We all need to acknowledge the mental barriers that impair our ability to keep our healthy routines.  What goals do you want to achieve and what’s in your way?

For me, I’m not a morning person.  Studies have shown starting your day with time at the gym or at home exercise can be a great kick off to the rest of the day.  I’ve been seen to go to the gym at 10PM and obviously it gives me an adrenaline rush.  Also, if you’re not completely committed to a new change, it’s so easy to talk yourself out of plans.  I’ve rescinded using my apartment’s elevator and only use the stairs.  I convince myself this is an adequate substitute of daily exercise, however, we all know it’s not.

Being held accountable to stick to a new goal can help remove barriers to change.  I’m heading to the gym tomorrow with my roommate.  Honestly, I wasn’t intending to go to the gym tomorrow, but since she asked me to accompany her, I know this is the time to seize a new healthy exercise routine.

Join me in living a more permanent healthy lifestyle and don’t allow those barriers inhibit your chance at reaching your goals.  Let’s do it!