Take Advantage and Give Back Through DFW Restaurant Week


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Original Image by iluvgadgets via Flickr

 

By: Nikki Nies

If you’re residing in the DFW metroplex, listen up! I know how much everyone loves to enjoy a relaxing meal, so why not take advantage of Restaurant Week, which is 8/15-8/21 and be benevolent as well? For every meal purchased, 20% of proceeds will be donated to North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) in the Dallas area and Lena Pope in Tarrant County.

More than 125 restaurants are participating in:

  • Preview Weekend – Aug. 12-14 – select restaurants
  • DFW Restaurant Week – Aug. 15-21 – many will extend through Aug. 28 or Sept. 4
  • Central Market Fourth Course Certificates – Spend $25 at local Central Markets and request a certificate for a FREE additional dinner course at participating restaurants!

 Check out the list of restaurants and start making reservations! I personally can’t wait to try Al Biernat’s, Abacus, and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. With over $740,000 raised last year for NTFB and Lena Pope, let’s make every effort to reach 1 million! It’s very doable!

Even if you’re not in DFW, keep an eye out for your local restaurant week and/or suggest proceeds going to a worthy cause too!

Sources: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2016/07/18/dfw-restaurant-week-2016-list-of-participating-restaurants/

http://dallas.eater.com/2016/7/11/12145106/dfw-restaurant-week-kicks-off-august-15

Ideas for Hostess Gifts at Holiday Parties


hostess-branch-picks
Branch & Twig Cocktail Picks from Anthropologie

By: Nikki Nies

While you can’t necessarily go wrong with bringing a bottle of wine as a hostess gift to your next holiday party, it won’t take more than a few extra seconds to peruse your local store or online catalog to deviate from that normal gift.  Also, as we know, not all gifts fit all ‘hosts.’ So, whether you’re attending a party of an acquaintance, boss or dear friend, let’s add some more holiday cheer by mixing up the host and/or hostess gift a bit!

  • hostess-metal-fruit-bowl
    Metal Fruit Bowl via Zara Home http://www.zarahome.com/us/en-us/c0p5947259.html

    The Acquaintance: bring a sampler box of treats (e.g. World Gourmet Sea Salt Sampler or Lindt Chocolate Swiss Luxury Selection Box) or a fun, simply kitchen tool, like a Bird Lemon Squeezer

  • The Boss:  posh slate cheese board or stylish coasters, I’m talking copper!
  • Gardener: build own bonsai tree!
  • Work Colleague or commuter: tea gift set or coffee sampler; coffee pour over coffeemaker; heated travel mug 
  • In-Laws: his & her gifts can be  a great addition to any one’s holiday; it’s better to spend a few extra dollars on them
  • Cocktail party: bring a gift that can be used a future party (e.g. tasting games, eclectic drink stirrers or a themed cocktail book). Ideally, take something that can be used at the party right then! It’s best to avoid bringing gourmet gifts that need to be consumed within the next 24 hours as the host will feel the need of serving the gift even though it wasn’t part of their initial party plans
  • Dinner party: every host will be grateful for additional ‘serving’ equipment. If it’s not your first time at the host’s house, take a mental inventory of what kind of dishes they already have, why not add an additional serving tray or platter to add to their arsenal? They’ll be grateful for the sentimental gift that can be used repeatedly.

Keep an eye out for great ideas at the following places as well: Williams Sonoma, Etsy, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Rejuvenation, Canvas Home Store, Amazon, Luminaire, Sur La Table, World Market, Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, The Container Store, This statement comes from Real Simple.

Of course, we all want to give useful, thoughtful gifts, but hopefully the above tips tap your inner creative side and helps you give the perfect host and/or hostess gift! Personally, I’m grateful for the above list as I can have a hard time navigating the different types of wines.  However, I’ve also found that giving a heartfelt homemade gift doesn’t hurt! Throughout the year, I’ll often try to learn what my friend, acquaintance(s), colleagues and/or boss’ ‘favorite’ something is, whether it’s dessert, drink, snack or go to place. I’ll then try my hand at making said favorite from scratch and it works like charm! For example, my friend loves gingerbread lattes from Starbucks, but can’t get over the price, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make from scratch gingerbread lattes! Not only did she say it was delicious, but she had more than just one cupful! I realize there isn’t always the time or interest in making homemade anything and everything, but the same concept of observing what your host has mentioned in passing what they like, can do no harm! When in doubt, bring a dessert!

Sources: http://www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/gifts/hostess-gifts/hostess-gift-ideas

http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/great-hostess-gifts

http://www.redbookmag.com/life/mom-kids/advice/g831/hostess-gift-ideas/

https://www.birchbox.com/magazine/article/how-to-pick-the-perfect-memorable-hostess-gift

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-holmes/hostess-gift-dos-donts_b_2193915.html

http://www.elle.com/fashion/accessories/tips/g9385/great-hostess-gifts/

http://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/g64/hostess-gifts/

http://www.marthastewart.com/859060/holiday-hostess-gift-ideas/@center/1009074/christmas-party-planning-menu-ideas

http://www.housebeautiful.com/shopping/g1974/hostess-gifts/

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/gift-ideas/g225/hostess-gifts/

Summer Travels: Staying Trim on a Beach Vacation


Image by Drifting Like a Feather via Flickr
Image by Drifting Like a Feather via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

There used to be a time when dining out was limited to only special occasions. Fast forward to present day and families eat out because it’s Tuesday or because it is easier to grab a meal on the run. Yet, with the rise of dining out, in 1999, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association published a study reporting that the more frequently women dined out, the higher the intake of total calories, fat and sodium. With restaurants serving large portions, finishing all that is served and justifying frequent splurges of higher fat, calorie menu selections, moderation of such meals is needed to stay trim while enjoying vacation.

Still, making arrangements and reservations for vacation can be anything, but relaxing. Sometimes we need a vacation from a vacation as all the planning is exhausting. Rather than eliminating vacation from schedule entirely, a relaxing beach vacation where lounging and recharging are the scheduled activities can be sometimes what is most needed. Yet, before jetting off to the beach resort, make sure to use some of the below tips to stay trim while on vacation, returning much happier and relaxed!

Suggestions:

    • Instead of equating dining out as an opportunity for carte blanche, remove the concept of obtaining ‘indulgences’ solely from food and instead focus on indulging in a mystery book, massage or quality time with the family. When redirecting indulgences to other great experiences in life, it will become easier not to overindulge in calories!
    • Order half sized portions, appetizers, share entrees or opt to take leftovers home for tomorrow’s meal.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask to ‘have it your way.” Restaurants are moreaccustomed to guests requesting (easy) modifications to dishes. For example, it’s not unheard of to ask for dressings, sauces and/or gravies on the side or for part of the meal to be “doggy bagged.”

      Original Image by Daniella Segura via Flickr
      Original Image by Daniella Segura via Flickr
    • Aim to “eat in” once a day! Staying in for breakfast or eating last night’s doggy bagged meal can save calories and dollars. Bringing along some low sugar oatmeal, cereal and/or breakfast bars can do the trick too or head to the local market to keep fresh fruit on hand for breakfast and snacks.
    • Sample delectable foods in “moderation” instead of feasting. Keeping treats to once a day allows one to enjoy the “local” food while maintaining desired weight.
    • Take advantage of surroundings and go for a morning run on the beach or afternoon hike. Take every opportunity to sightsee via walking.   The friction from the sand can increase intensity if desired.
    • The mini bar in room is the start of many guilty extra snacks and drinks! Hide the key or keep the fridge closed to limit temptation and overindulgence.
    • Traveling can be dehydrating. Add a few days in the sun and water requirements increase exorbitantly. When possible, keep ice cold bottles of water stocked in r fridge and have some water on hand when out. Also, keep the triple digit calorie drinks at bay with unsweetened hot or cold tea, coffee, sparkling water, club soda or by adding some lemon or lime to ice water. Enjoying a drink or two is expected, but keep in mind each alcoholic drink can add an extra 150-450 calories and added sugar.
    • Take on the challenge of ‘5 a Day.’ Daily, make every effort to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables. These efforts will aid in meeting daily fruits and vegetables quota and make one more satisfied with the added fiber.
    • Go easy on the condiments. For example, half of the fat in Arby’s Southwest Chicken Wrap or Ultimate BLT Wrap comes from the ranch sauce or mayo. Limit intake of creamy sauces or soups, opting for ketchup, marinara, mustard or BBQ sauce, which tend to be less than 25 calories per serving.
    • Take advantage of the abundant amounts of seafood from the nearby ocean! Seafood is a delectable way to get your weekly dose of fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Make sure to order grilled or non buttered fishes as they are lower in fat and calories than the fried or battered dishes.

For your next beach trip, keep these tips in mind so you can have your cake and eat some fruits and vegetables too.

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/women/features/vacation-eating

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/eat-healthy-during-vacation-1747.html

http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/9-ways-to-take-your-diet-on-vacation

Health Tips When Traveling To China


China_table_settingBy: Nikki Nies

To truly immerse yourself in a culture, especially one that is far removed from your own is the true definition of traveling. Whether you travel to the exhilarating Machu Pichu or soak up the rays in Turks & Caicos, there’s one factor in vacation destinations that can be not be ignored, the food. Depending on one’s taste buds and food preferences, that can dictate travel excursions. No matter how much you   factor in food, China should be at the top of your list of travel destinations!

You should head to China with at few ideas of where you want to go and how to best enjoy the food. I have provided first hand tips of how to best eat in China.

With many carbohydrate sources, such as rice, noodles, steamed buns as entrées themselves or accompanying the entrees, it can be easy to carb overload. However,

  • Eat with chopsticks. Not only will it slow down intake, but locals will be more likely to give you menu and meal suggestions when they see you immersing in the culture
  • Try a bit of everything, but don’t eat everything. Having a couple bites can help limit overindulging while getting the exposure to different flavors
  • Cold beverages are deemed harmful to digestion of hot foods, so hot tea or hot water are served with meals. Tea is believed to help with the digestion of greasy foods
  • Food is often prepared and served on small plate, “family style”, be ready for direct pick up and communal eating

    Image by rayand goo.gl/5mSWbf
    Image by rayand goo.gl/5mSWbf
  • While China can be divided into 57 cuisine regions, below are some of the more popular regions:
    • Szechuan (Sichuan): known for spicy, hot flavor; uses a great mixture of poultry, pork, beef, fish, vegetables, tofu in combination with pepper and chili; fast frying is most commonly used method
    • Cantonese: characterized by tender, slightly sweet taste; sauces are often light and mellow, including hoisin, oyster, plum and sweet and sour sauce; often see spring onions, sugar, salt, rice wine, corn starch, vinegar and sesame oil used; garlic can be heavily used; prefer stewing, sautéing or braising food, which helps to preserve the flavor
    • Hunan: “land of fish and rice”; fresh vegetables cooked “al dente”; favors steaming, stir frying, smoking and sautéing; special seasonings include soy sauce, tea seed oil, Chinese red pepper, fennel and cassia bark and spicy oil
    • Jiangsu: moderate saltiness and sweetness; places emphasis on the making of soups; abundant in freshwater fish and seafood from the Yangtze River and Yellow Sea
  • Desserts less common, with sweet foods introduced during meal. For example, basifruit, sizzling sugar syrup coated fruits are eaten with other savory foods
    • Beware, there are fried desserts that incorporate red bean paste
    • If dessert is served at the end of the meal, often times it is fresh fruit
  • Soup is often served at the end of the meal to satiate appetite

For any of you that have traveled to China, what other tips can you share? It’s hard to give specific “restaurant recommendations” as a lot of the great food is on the street kiosks and depending on what flavors you’re looking to try! Remember, when traveling, go in with an open mind and have fun! What regional cuisines are must eats for you

Sources: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/healthy-living/use-your-noodle-the-real-chinese-diet-is-so-healthy-it-could-solve-the-wests-obesity-crisis-873651.html

The Forgotten Health Benefits of Chinese Food

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-tips-healthy-chinese-cooking

http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/2013/2/7/chefs-reveal-how-to-find-authentic-chinese-food

Factoring in Fasting


By: Nikki Nies

Religious fasting does not discriminate amongst religions. Off the top of my head, I know several denominations that fast regularly, while the religious premise differs. The term fasting can take on many meanings, but when someone says they’re fasting, it equates to abstaining from a something. Fasting can be in the form of complete abstinence of food and drink until sundown, TV, screen time, added sugar, sleep, sex or coffee to obtain and maintain spiritual growth.

I’m not here to pass judgement on anyone’s customs or beliefs, but to point out some aspects of fasting that should be considered. For example, someone with diabetes should probably consult a physician prior to a food fast. Perhaps, there’s another type of fast that can help with spiritual growth.

Other considerations that should be included are: ReligiousFasting

  • Fasting is not meant to punish our flesh, but to focus on those things above
  • Schedule a physical exam to confirm you’re “fit” to fast
  • If you’re on medications, make sure to notify physician about fasting to limit potential counter indications
  • Should be done during a set time and have an end date
  • Should not be used as a means of dieting, but for religious purposes
  • It can be easier to fast by thinking of this practice as a sacrificial time
  • Similar to starting a new exercise regime, you want to ease into fasting. Perhaps, you fast from one meal or fast for one day, no need to stretch yourself too thin the first time by fasting from food for an entire week!
  • Prior to abstaining from whatever you choose, may be easier to ease into the fast by decreasing intake or use of fasted items the days prior to the fast. This may mean eating smaller meals or decreasing TV time days before so the fast is easier to acclimate to.
  • May be helpful to wean off caffeine and sugar before the fast to ease initial hunger or discomfort in the initial stages of fast

During a period of fasting, one’s safety has to remain at the forefront of every decision. In addition to diabetics, those that are physically too thin or emaciated; suffering from weakness or anemia; prone to anorexia or bulimia; with tumors, bleeding ulcers, blood or heart diseases and/or cancer; have chronic issues with kidneys, lungs, heart or liver and/or pregnant women or those that are nursing may consider opting out of a fast.

The Bible refers to two types of fasts, the “absolute” and the “supernatural absolute.” These are total fasts-no food (solid or liquid) and no water

I tried to keep this post general as to not offend or pigeon hole any one’s practices, but to give some food for thought. Fasting encourages humility, greater fellowship and connection to one’s religious group, acquiring patience, can help restore one’s religious beliefs, frees oppression and encourages a lifestyle of reflection and honor.

Photo Credit:Vocation Network
Sources: http://www.webmd.com/diet/is_fasting_healthy

http://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting.html

http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/57

http://www.allaboutgod.com/christian-fasting.htm

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

Adopt Private Mind Tricks


portion-chartBy: Nikki Nies

While the words portion control, calorie counting and “mindfulness” are regularly thrown around as necessarily components of weight loss.  Unfortunately, there’s often times a discrepancy in the information provided to the public and what information the public retains and understands when temptation confronts them. In addition, when environmental bias cues bias one’s feeling of satiation, the task can become even more challenging.

Rule of thumb strategies, technically known as “heuristics,” create for ourselves — such as not spending more than $15 on an item of baby clothing, or more than $50 on a pair of shoes — can help simplify the daily choices we make. Behavioral economists believe that adopting good heuristics can help one develop sound habits.  In terms of nutrition, these habits can be healthier.

For instance, most people know that eating an apple is better than eating a slice of cake and that eating a slice of cake is better than eating two slices of cake.  With many restaurants, movie theatres and grocery stores now providing nutrition fact labels to consumers, it does not appear that consumers need more nutrition information, but perhaps, better heuristics to help develop bias towards eating less unhealthy foods.

Such rules could offset irrational tendencies, as found by studies led by Brian Wansink.  In a pilot study consisting of 1000 participants from a weight loss website were randomly assigned three small behavior changes over a three month period.  The results found the weight loss ranged from a 1.93-pound monthly weight loss (e.g., use ten-inch plates for dinner) to a 0.83-pound monthly weight gain (eat oatmeal for breakfast), the average heuristic resulted in an average weight loss—1.16 pounds per month per person.  The most effective heuristic was found to entail little decision making, such as the use of smaller plates and/or eating in the kitchen versus in front of the TV.

Less restrictive interventions are also found to be more effective to implement long term, such as the consumption of hot breakfasts instead of more restrictive heuristics, such as specifying one eats oatmeal for breakfast.  Additionally, by weighing the effectiveness of an intervention by compliance and estimated weight loss may increase compliance and make overall healthier food choices.

The use of heuristics can be a great way to integrate small, modifiable changes to one’s lifestyle, while increasing likelihood of long term implementation that gives clients the autonomy to adapt changes to preferences and lifestyle. What heuristic strategies have you found to be most successful? What do you hope to incorporate into your life?

Photo Credit: Diabeter

Sources:  http://www.learnvest.com/2014/05/money-habits/#ixzz3NL95JtVm

http://www.learnvest.com/2013/07/4-ways-to-trick-your-brain-into-banishing-bad-money-habits/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23994507

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2012.01098.x/abstract

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22577307

http://www.foodpsychology.cornell.edu/pdf/permission/2009/Healthy_Hueristics-AER_2009.pdf

http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/content/mindless-eating-and-healthy-heuristics-irrational