Friday, February 28, 2014

Host a Healthy Oscar Party

Oscar night is kind of our equivalent to Superbowl Sunday. It’s the one night we completely indulge in the glamorous celebrity lifestyle. What better way to celebrate this enchanted night than with family and friends? Send out the invites, dress to the nines (or your yoga pants! Either works!). But, don’t forget the champagne.

A designer dress might be enough to get the paparazzi's attention, but a homemade Oscar appetizers are the key to anyone’s heart. Wow your guests with these red carpet-ready recipes for your special night at the Oscars (aka your living room).

Tomato & Avocado Bruschetta

No contest here, this recipe will win The Oscar for “Best Dish.” Serve as a bruschetta or a star-studded simple salad.

1 large tomato, chopped
1 medium cucumber, chopped
1 medium avocado, ripe, chopped
½ medium yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 box whole grain crackers

1. In a large bowl, combine your chopped vegetables including: tomato, cucumber, avocado, and onion.
2. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Stir well.
3. Top each cracker with a tablespoon of bruschetta mix. Serve!

Serves 4

Pomegranate Wine Spritzer

This light and refreshing white wine spritzer is the perfect pair to your Oscar winning appetizers.

½ cup white wine
½ cup sparking water
4 tablespoons pomegranate juice


Pour all ingredients into a wine glass. Stir and serve.

Serves 1

Recipes from our wonderful contributing blogger, Jaime Ruisi.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Dietitian Is In: Do you stick to your "diet" 24/7?

When we meet someone for the first time and share what we do, it often seems to open the gateway to a game of 20 questions. “What do you think about the Paleo diet?” “It’s a good thing to give up gluten, right?” “Is a banana bad for me?” “So, do you always eat healthy?” When we’re asked these kinds of questions, we’re happy to answer them. We feel grateful that people feel comfortable enough to ask. Here's a recent question we were asked...and here's the answer!

Question: Is it necessary to stick to my diet 24/7 in order to gain health benefits?

Answer: There’s a fine line between eating foods that are good for your health, and eating only foods good for your health. The importance of getting quality nutrition is receiving increasing attention in mainstream media today. While it’s a good thing to foster healthy eating habits, and therefore reduce the risk for obesity and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, an extreme approach to diet may not be such a good thing. In fact, health experts are concerned that it can lead to a new category of eating disorders classified as “orthorexia nervosa” or “healthorexia.” Orthorexia can start out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but can quickly lead to an unhealthy obsession over food quality or a fixation on “righteous eating,” according to the National Eating Disorder Association. People with orthorexia, for example, may become preoccupied with only eating low-glycemic, unprocessed, or organic foods. Like other disordered eating behaviors, orthorexia can lead to malnutrition as individuals become increasingly restrictive with their dietary choices. It’s important to remember that health status is the result of long term eating habits. One simply does not get diabetes from having a candy bar, or heart disease from having one meal of fried chicken. Ultimately, it’s best for your health to develop eating habits that are sustainable for the long term. This includes allowing yourself to enjoy the occasional treat from time to time.

This Q & A was written by McKenzie for the October 2013 issue of Environmental Nutrition.

A recently published article in the Los Angeles Times provides additional insight into orthorexia. You can read the full article by Mary MacVean, “For those with orthorexia, diet can never be 'pure' enough” here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Eating Well Isn't About Perfection

There are always so many things I want to say in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Lisa and I have shared our thoughts about “dieting,” body image, and our society’s preoccupation with a certain ideal before.

This is why we feel so good about our non-diet philosophy.

In a TED Talk I recently watched featuring Sandra Aamodt, titled Why dieting usually doesn’t work,” she points out that the typical outcome of dieting is that you’re more likely to gain weight than lose it.


Diets tend to categorize certain foods as ‘bad,’ wrong, or ‘off-limits,’ which often sets the foundation for a cycle of failure and/or guilt. When we feel deprived, this often leads to subsequent overeating.  How many times have you broken your "diet" and thought “I blew it anyways, so I might as well have more…”?  

When we allow all foods into our life, we can relieve ourselves from this cycle of deprivation followed by guilt, and learn to truly enjoy food and listen to our bodies for hunger and fullness cues.

Sandra Aamodt concludes her TED Talk perfectly: "Our daughters have learned to measure their worth by the wrong scale," she said.

So this week (and every week!) we want you to keep this in mind.

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

A very special thanks to the wonderful crew at Nature Box for making our body loving tips so beautiful!

Friday, February 21, 2014

{Recipe Redux} Spa Water

The title of this month’s Recipe Redux challenge is: Beverages are hot!  We agree.  Mixologists have risen to the status of celebrity chefs, and the best restaurant drink menus include cocktails made with real, fresh ingredients (no fluorescent mixers!) and feature delicious, creative non-alcoholic cocktails for the patrons who don’t wish to imbibe.

When we host dinner parties, we always try to have a creative non-alcoholic option for guests—sometimes a fruit-infused herbal tea, an herb-scented sparkler or a riff on old-fashioned lemonade.  They are great for kids and adults alike.  There are lots of interesting recipes for both full-on cocktails and virgin versions on some of our favorite sites, including this one and this one.

But, when I started thinking about beverages, my mind kept getting stuck on something more simple:  water.  We’ve talked before about the importance of drinking water throughout the day here

But, sometimes plain water is sooooo booooorrrringggg.  And we don’t always have time to whip up a delicious concoction. 

The answer?  Spa water.

In my refrigerator, you’ll always find a picture of filtered water, spiked with the flavor of the week.  Sometimes it’s thinly sliced mandarin oranges, sometimes apples slices with a sprig of thyme.  In the summer, it might be cucumber and mint, or raspberries and basil.  Of course, lemon and lime often make an appearance, as an old standby.  You’re only limited by your imagination and the contents of your fruit and vegetables drawers.

Just fill your favorite pitcher with water and add whatever fruits, vegetables or herbs you think would taste good.  Leave the water to marinate for a few hours, and presto! Flavored water.    


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A “Shot” of Probiotics

Photo credit to Carnby on Wikimedia Commons

Your body contains 10 times more intestinal bacteria than human cells. So, it’s no wonder that maintaining a healthy environment of friendly bacteria in your gut plays such an important role. It’s well documented that the presence of probiotics or “healthy bacteria” in your intestinal tract may improve immune function and aid in digestion. Live bacteria are increasingly being added to products, such as “shots” or drinks, to enhance their health appeal. But are these drinks as beneficial as they seem? 

Follow these tips for getting to know your probiotic drinks better.

  1. It’s all in the name. There are three important components of a probiotic’s name: genus, species and strain. Look for products that list the full probiotic name, such as Lactobacillus Rhamnosus HN001 or Lactobacillus plantarum 229V, which is a sign that more research is available on its benefits. Check out the company website for clinical studies to support specific benefits, such as improving resistance to pathogens.
  2. It’s all in the numbers. Colony forming units (CFUs), the measurement of live microbes in a probiotic, should be listed on the label because different probiotics are effective at different doses. For example, some probiotics appear to offer benefits at 50 million CFUs per day, while others may be effective at doses of 1 trillion. Read the product information to learn more about an effective dose.
  3. It’s all in the packaging. Check the product’s label for proper storage (most probiotics survive better at lower temperatures.) By definition, probiotics have to be alive when administered. The California Dairy Research Foundation advises consumers to choose products from reputable companies, which are labeled with live bacteria information obtained at the end of shelf life and not at the time of manufacture.

A Guide to Probiotic Shots and Drinks

Here’s a list of popular probiotics beverages available in many supermarkets.

Probiotic Strain
Specific Health Benefits
Bio K + Probiotic
L. acidophilus CL1285, L. casei LBC80R
50 billion per 3.5 oz
Improves digestive health and resistance to infectious pathogens; used in the therapeutic treatment of urinary infections
Bucha Live Kombucha
Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086
1 billion per 16 oz
No clinical studies available
DanActive fermented milk
L. casei DN-114 001
10 billion per 3.1 oz
Contributes to healthy gut flora
GoodBelly Quarts
Lactobacillus planterium 299V
10-20 billion per 8 oz
Promotes healthy digestion
GoodBelly SraightShot
Lactobacillus planterium 299V
20 billion per 2.7 oz
Promotes healthy digestion
GoLive Probiotic and Prebiotic Ready-to-Drink Bottles
Bifidobacterium bifidum R-71, Lactobacillus acidophilus L-10*
8 billion per 16 oz
No clinical studies available.
KeVita Sparkling Probiotic Drink
Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086
 4  billion per 15.2 oz
No clinical studies available.
Lactobacillus Casei Shirota
8 billion per 2.7 oz
Contributes to health gut flora, promotes gastrointestinal health by helping to prevent diarrhea and IBS

Information obtained from manufacturer label and manufacturer websites.

*Contains an additional 13 other probiotic strains

This article was written by McKenzie for the October 2013 issue of Environmental Nutrition.