Tag Archives: nutrition

Tzatziki Sauce

In celebration of National Mediterranean Diet Month, here is the second of two Mediterranean-inspired recipes from Nutritioulicious intern Jo Bartell.

Since I shared a nutritioulicous baked falafel recipe yesterday, I thought it would be fitting to share my easy recipe for tzatziki sauce today. Tzatziki is a Greek dipping sauce that tastes great on its own or with falafel, sliced veggies, or whole-wheat pita. Tzatziki demonstrates yet another use for nutritious, delicious, and protein-packed Greek yogurt. I used 2% plain Greek yogurt for this recipe, but it also tastes great with 0% if you want to cut out even more of the fat.

Tzatziki Sauce: (adapted from www.allrecipes.com)
Servings: 6; Serving Size: ¼ cup

Ingredients: tzatziki recipe
  • 18 ounces (1 large container) 2% plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
Directions:
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine the yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill, and garlic.
  2. Process until well combined. Transfer to a separate dish, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with sliced, raw cucumber.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 115 calories, 6 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 10 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g protein, 60 mg sodium, 180 mg calcium

Have you ever tried tzatziki? What kind of dips do you make with Greek yogurt?

National Mediterranean Diet Month

It’s May, and that means that it’s finally starting to feel like summer and it’s National Mediterranean Diet Month! What a great time of year to sing the praises of a lifestyle that has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve brainpower.

The Traditional Mediterranean Diet consists mainly of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, beans, nuts, herbs and spices, small amounts of dairy, and red wine (sounds a lot like what I recommend!). In 1993, Oldways, a Boston-based non-profit that develops consumer-friendly health-promotion tools including the Whole-Grain Stamp, introduced the Med Diet Pyramid. The pyramid was based on the dietary traditions of Greece and southern Italy when the rates of chronic disease were among the lowest in the world, and adult life expectancy was among the highest. The pyramid was updated in 2008 and is very much in line with the recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

mediterranean diet

As you can see, physical activity and enjoying meals with others are the foundation of the pyramid, which shows just how important they are to a healthy lifestyle. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and beans, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and herbs and spices take up the most space of the pyramid, indicating that the majority of your diet should include those foods (have you heard my tip about making half your plate fruits and vegetables?!). Next in line: fish and seafood, a group of foods that are also emphasized in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt should be eaten in moderate portions, and meats and sweets are occasional treats. Check out the Oldways website to get a detailed list of foods consumed on the Mediterannean Diet and learn more about National Mediterranean Diet Month.

Over the next couple of days, Nutritioulicious intern Jo will be sharing some Mediterranean dishes she recently cooked up!

What are some of your favorite foods that fit the Mediterranean Diet?

Disclaimer: I was not paid to promote Oldways or the Mediterranean Diet. All opinions are my own. 

Photo Credit: Oldways

Do You Know What You’re Supposed to Eat?

Yesterday, the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines were released.  (Yes, we’re in 2011, but the guidelines were a little late).  These Guidelines are updated every five years and are supposed to be the foundation of our diets. Unfortunately, many American’s aren’t following the Guidelines, which is evident by the following statistics:

  • 72% of women and 64% of men are classified as overweight or obese
  • 1 in 3 children is overweight

The new Guidelines are not as different from the 2005 Guidelines as nutrition professionals were expecting, but there were some good changes that will hopefully help people implement the Guidelines in an easier way. Here are some of the key takeaways from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines:

  • Fill half your plate with fruits & vegetables
  • Make half of your grains whole grains by replacing refined grains with whole grains (like barley, oats, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc)
  • Increase intake of fat-free or 1% reduced fat dairy — milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Increase the amount and variety of seafood you eat — choose seafood in place of meat and poultry
    • 8 ounces of seafood per week is recommended (that’s 2 servings)
  • Increase plant sources of protein, including beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds
  • Increase physical activity — aim for 30 minutes a day
  • Limit sodium intake to 2300 mg/day or 1500 mg/day if you are over 51 or African American (of any age) or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease (50% of the US population falls in the category needing to limit sodium to  1500 mg/day)
    • Read sodium content on nutrition facts panels
    • Read the ingredients for sources of sodium
    • Don’t trust your taste buds — just because something tastes salty doesn’t mean it’s high in sodium. Many foods have salt baked in so it doesn’t taste salty.
  • Reduce intake of calories from solid fats (saturated and trans fats) and added sugars
    • Limit baked goods, butter, stick margarine, shortening, partially hydrogenated oils, bacon, hot dogs, ribs
    • Read the nutrition facts labels — look at amount of saturated and trans fats
    • Read the ingredients for sources of solid fats and added sugar (you can’t rely on the sugar amount on a label because many foods have sugar naturally)

Remember the bottom line: Balance the calories you take in from any and all food sources with the calories you are expending through physical activity. No food is off limits — it’s about enjoying what you like in moderation.

Want to know more about the guidelines? Check out my appearance on WNBC NY Nightly News with Chuck Scarborough!

Walnut Nutrition

California walnut harvestBy now you know that I’m a fan of walnuts. What with my post about interesting walnut facts, walnut pesto, dinner with walnuts, and how walnuts are harvested, you probably think that walnuts are the only nut I eat (not true)! I could go on for a few more blog posts about walnuts and my time at the walnut harvest festival, but I’ll make this my last post on the subject (at least for now). After all, this is a nutrition blog, so I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the nutritional benefits of this superstar nut, also known as a superfood!

Walnuts…

  • are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids. One ounce of of walnuts (~12-14 halves) contains 2.6 grams of ALA (more than any other nut).
  • contain 4 g protein and 2 g fiber (8% of the recommended daily intake) per ounce.
  • are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E and selenium. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, walnuts are second to blackberries in antioxidants.
  • are linked to improved vascular function, decreased total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, decreased inflammation, cognitive benefits, and improved heart health.

Walnut Nutrition Facts (per 1 oz* raw): 190 calories, 18 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 13 g polyunsaturated fat of which 2.6 g are alpha-linolenic acid), 0 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein, 125 mg potassium, 30 mg calcium, 5% iron, 11% magnesium

*1 oz walnuts = 1/4 cup shelled halves or pieces = 14 halves

As you can see, one ounce of walnuts at a time costs you a lot of calories, so you don’t need to eat a whole ounce at once. I recommend eating about 5 to 7 walnut halves (or 2 tablespoons pieces) at a time combined with a piece of fruit or a yogurt for a balanced snack. Here are some other ideas of how to enjoy walnuts:

  • Top oatmeal with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • Add walnuts to a yogurt and fruit parfait (lower in sugar than granola)
  • Add toasted walnuts to a salad
  • Toss walnuts into quinoa or wild rice as a side dish
  • Caramelize walnuts and add to a cheese plate

One more tip: Store your shelled walnuts in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent the loss of the healthy oils. Unopened packages are good to eat for a year, opened packages will keep for up to 6 months.

You can find many more ideas and recipes on the California Walnuts website.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy walnuts?

*Opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and I have not been compensated by anyone for this post.