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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Curb That Craving: Fast Food Has Met Its Match

By Natalie Donvito, VCUHS Dietetic Intern

We all have been there-craving a juicy cheeseburger with a side of fresh French fries; maybe even some onion rings or a chocolate ice cream treat to top it off. But what about all of the additional calories, fat, sugar, and salt that make these delicious foods less desirable?

Well, worry no more—here are some of your favorite fast food items with a healthier spin, so you can satisfy your cravings and fuel your body with a nutritious meal!

Bacon Cheeseburger, meet the California Turkey Burger

·         Replace a ground beef patty with a ground turkey patty. Turkey is a leaner meat, and is still great at holding flavor and moisture!

·         Switch the white bun for a whole wheat bun. Whole wheat provides is nutrient-rich and provides additional fiber.

·         Trade out bacon slices for avocado slices. Unlike bacon, avocados contain healthier fats that, when eaten in moderation, can help lower your cholesterol.

·         Replace high fat American or Cheddar cheese, with a slice of low fat Swiss cheese. Low fat Swiss cheese packs a similarly strong flavor with a fraction of the calories, fat, and salt.

Deep Fried French Fries, meet the Golden Baked French Fries

·         Trade out French fries cooked in oil with French fries cooked in the oven.  When potatoes are deep fried, they lose moisture and soak up the oil that they are being cooked in. Avoid all of that extra fat and calories by baking French fries in the oven. Cut down on the sodium by using a sodium-free seasoning, such as dried herbs.

·         Golden Baked French Fries (1 serving):

o   Materials: Oven, knife, cutting board, mixing bowl, cookie sheet, tin foil, cooking spray, 1 large potato, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning.

o   1) Set oven to 375°F.  2) Line cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.  3) Slice potato into French fries using the knife and cutting board. 4) Place French fries in mixing bowl. Add oil and Italian seasoning and toss until well mixed. 5) Spread in even, single layer onto lined cookie sheet.  6) Bake in oven for 20 minutes.  7) Flip fries and return to oven.  8) Continue to bake ~20 minutes or until golden brown.  9) Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly before serving.

Beer Battered Onion Rings, meet the Sautéed Onion & Green Pepper Medley

·         Similar to the French fries, deep fried onion rings are filled with excess oil, and with even more calories coming from breading. Replace this high calorie, high fat snack with a healthier side of fresh sautéed onions and green peppers. You could even add them to your California Turkey Burger!

·         Sautéed Onion & Green Pepper Medley (1 serving):

o   Materials: Stove top, skillet, knife, cutting board, ½ medium onion, ½ green bell pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil.

o   1) Slice onion and bell pepper lengthwise into strips using knife and cutting board.  2) Warm olive oil in skillet on medium-low heat on stove top.  3) Add sliced onion and bell pepper to skillet.  4) Increase to medium-high heat and stir frequently until onions begin to turn translucent in color.  5) Take off heat & allow to cool slightly before serving.

Chocolate Ice Cream Treat, meet the Ultra Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Yogurt

·         All of the fast food chains have them—soft serve ice cream or milkshake combinations that are delicious, but not entirely nutritious.  Instead, enjoy a homemade, creamy chocolate yogurt with a peanut butter twist that is sure to entice your taste buds without the added sugar, fat, and calories.  You can enjoy the treat by itself or try it as a dip with sliced apples!

·         Ultra Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake (1 serving):

o   Materials: Mixing bowl, whisk, 1 single serving container vanilla Greek yogurt (~5 ½ oz), ½ tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter.

o   1) Empty yogurt into mixing bowl.  2) Add cocoa powder and peanut butter and whisk together until well blended.  3) Serve immediately or cover and return to refrigerator.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Healthy Twist to Apple Crisp
By Kendra Quick, VCUHS Dietetic Intern
The second best thing to the all American classic apple pie. Surprise your guests this 4th of July with an apple crisp with a healthy edge. I have given my grandma’s homemade recipe a nutrition make over, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday weekend!

Original Apple Crisp


4 cups sliced apples (Granny Smith)

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

½ cup butter

1 cup all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice apples in a 9”x9” baking dish. Make crumbs by cutting butter into flour and sugar. Cover apples with crumb mixture. Bake 45 minutes.


Makes 9 servings


Nutrition Facts:

Calories (kcal): 214
Total Fat (g): 10
     Saturated Fat (g): 7
     Monounsaturated fat (g): 3
Carbohydrate (g): 31
     Fiber (g): 1
Protein (g): 0
Sodium (mg): 83


New Apple Crisp


4 cups sliced apples (Granny Smith)

½ cup of Splenda brown sugar (packed)

¼ cup Natural applesauce (no sugar added)

1 cup whole-wheat flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice apples in a 9”x9” baking dish. Mix apple sauce with flour and sugar to make the topping. Cover apples with mixture. Bake 45 minutes.


Makes 9 servings


Nutrition Facts:

Calories (kcal): 120
Total Fat (g): 0
     Saturated Fat (g):  0
     Monounsaturated fat (g):  0
Carbohydrate (g): 18
Fiber (g): 3
Protein (g): 2
Sodium (mg): 1


Friday, April 18, 2014

Healthy Tacos - It's Whats for Dinner!

Healthy Crockpot Chicken Tacos


Makes 8 servings.



2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, raw

12 oz. salsa

1 can diced green chilies

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. garlic powder

6” corn tortilla wraps

1 c. fat free plain Greek yogurt

1 avocado



1.       Combine salsa, green chilies, onion, ground cumin, and garlic powder and place in slow cooker with chicken breasts. 

2.       When chicken is tender and juices run clear, shred chicken by pulling apart with two forks.

3.       Warm 6” corn tortilla wraps in microwave for 15-30 seconds.

4.       Fill wrap with ½ cup (4 oz.) shredded chicken mix and top with 2 tablespoons yogurt and avocado.

5.       May add lettuce for an extra crunch.


*Note Greek Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream

*Fresh avocado can also be made into guacamole with the addition of lemon juice, onions, garlic powder, and pepper. 



Calories:  240

Total Fat:  6.1 g

Saturated Fat: 1 g

Carbohydrate:  15 g

Fiber:  3.3 g

Sodium: 234 mg

Protein: 30 g



Frozen Foods - Check Them Out!

Frozen Food Finds

By: Jenna Amos, VCUHS Dietetic Intern

Filled with calorie heavy tv dinners and tempting frozen treats, the frozen food aisle is often considered a danger zone for those choosing to eat healthfully. But this section shouldn’t be avoided completely because there are lots of easy and good for you foods here!

Benefits of Frozen Foods:

·         Long shelf life

·         Lots of vitamins and minerals like fresh foods

·         Convenient

·         Easy to prepare

·         Can be less expensive than fresh foods


Fruits and Vegetables:  Frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen within hours of picking and at the peak of their ripeness. The quick freezing of these products does a great job of locking in the nutrients and flavor. Plus, frozen fruits and veggies are a major time saver!  They can go from the freezer to the table in minutes with almost no prep . Just make sure to check the ingredient label on these frozen foods and avoid those with added seasonings, sauces and sugar.

Juice:  Frozen juice concentrates are a good alternative to bottled juices.  They have all the same vitamins and minerals of juice in a bottle but in a more compact form which can be a big space saver.  Choose 100% juice varieties without added sugar.  Just make sure to follow the directions to make sure your juice tastes like it should!  

Cheese: You may not find cheese in the freezer section but it can be frozen at home.  Sometimes cheese can go bad before you use the entire block.  If you know that you will not use all of your cheese before it will spoil, try wrapping it in plastic and freezing it until you are ready to use it. 


Next time you make a grocery trip, pick up some frozen staples to have on hand to make healthy choices simple choices even on the busiest of days!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

March is National Nutrition Month

Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!

Happy National Nutrition Month! This year’s focus was to enjoy healthy foods.  This is very important for all people and especially children to promote good, healthy eating habits.  A good tip for enjoying healthy foods is to choose foods using your 5 senses: taste, smell, sight, touch, and hearing. 

1.       Taste – Choose foods that taste good! Use different seasoning such as lemon, herbs, fruits or vegetables.

2.       Smell – Cook foods that smell great! Fresh fruits and vegetables also smell great.

3.       Sight – Choose foods that are a variety of colors.  Fruits and vegetables add color to your plate and are also a great source of nutrients.

4.       Touch – Use your hands to prepare foods.  This can include tearing salads, peeling corn husks, or even mixing using your hands over a spoon.

5.       Hear – Listen as you crunch into an apple or carrot stick, start cooking more at home so you can hear your food sizzling.

Try this recipe! It uses all 5 senses!

Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Dip

Wooden skewers



Green Grapes

Pineapple chunks


Cut strawberries, grapes, and bananas into bit size pieces.  Place pieces of fruit onto skewer, alternating fruits.   Stack fruit until the skewer is full and repeat until the fruit is gone.

*For variation, you can use the fruits you enjoy the most!



1 cup fruit yogurt

½ c fat free whipped topping

Mix ingredients together.  Dip the fruit skewers in the dip and enjoy! 


Written by Melissa Williams, Dietetic Intern at VCUHS

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Healthy Snacks for Children (and adults too)

Eat Right
Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the American Dietetic Association
25 Healthy Snacks for Kids
When a snack attack strikes, refuel with these nutrition-packed snacks.
Easy, Tasty (and Healthy) Snacks
You may need an adult to help with some of these snacks.
Peel a banana and dip it in yogurt. Roll in crushed cereal and freeze.
Spread celery sticks with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Top with raisins. Enjoy your “ants on
a log.”
Stuff a whole-grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices. Add a dash of
Mix together ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a sandwich bag for an on-the-go snack.
Smear a scoop of frozen yogurt on two graham crackers and add sliced banana to make a yummy
Top low-fat vanilla yogurt with crunchy granola and sprinkle with blueberries.
Microwave a small baked potato. Top with
reduced-fat cheddar cheese and salsa.
Make snack kabobs. Put cubes of low-fat cheese
and grapes on pretzel sticks.
Toast a whole grain waffle and top with low-fat
yogurt and sliced peaches.
Spread peanut butter on apple slices.
Blend low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a
banana for thirty seconds for a delicious smoothie.
Make a mini-sandwich with tuna or egg salad on a
dinner roll.
Sprinkle grated Monterey Jack cheese over a corn
tortilla; fold in half and microwave for twenty
seconds. Top with salsa.
Toss dried cranberries and chopped walnuts in
instant oatmeal.
Mix together peanut butter and cornflakes in
a bowl. Shape into balls and roll in crushed
graham crackers.
Microwave a cup of tomato or vegetable soup
and enjoy with whole grain crackers.
Fill a waffle cone with cut-up fruit and top
with low-fat vanilla yogurt.
Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on hot
Banana Split: Top a banana with low-fat
vanilla and strawberry frozen yogurt. Sprinkle
with your favorite whole-grain cereal.
Sandwich Cut-Outs: Make a sandwich on
whole grain bread. Cut out your favorite
shape using a big cookie cutter. Eat the fun
shape and the edges, too!
Spread mustard on a flour tortilla. Top with
a slice of turkey or ham, low-fat cheese and
lettuce. Then roll it up.
Mini Pizza: Toast an English muffin, drizzle
with pizza sauce and sprinkle with low-fat
mozzarella cheese.
Rocky Road: Break a graham cracker into
bite-size pieces. Add to low-fat chocolate
pudding along with a few miniature
Inside-Out Sandwich: Spread mustard on a
slice of deli turkey. Wrap around a sesame
Parfait: Layer vanilla yogurt and mandarin
oranges or blueberries in a tall glass. Top with
a sprinkle of granola.
Now that you are refueled, take a trip to
Planet Power. Play the MyPyramid Blast-Off
game at©2009 ADA. Reproduction of this tip sheet is permitted for educational purposes. Reproduction for sales purposes is not authorized.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tips for a Thinner Thanksgiving

Year after year, most of us pack on at least a pound or more during the holidays -- and keep the extra weight permanently. Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your weight. With a little know-how, you can satisfy your desire for traditional favorites and still enjoy a guilt-free Thanksgiving feast.
Get Active
Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you ever indulge in your favorite foods, suggests Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, former president of the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
"'Eat less and exercise more' is the winning formula to prevent weight gain during the holidays," Diekman says. "Increase your steps or lengthen your fitness routine the weeks ahead and especially the day of the feast."
Make fitness a family adventure, recommends Susan Finn, PhD, RD, chair of the American Council on Fitness and Nutrition: "Take a walk early in the day and then again after dinner. It is a wonderful way for families to get physical activity and enjoy the holiday together."
Lighten Up
Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories. "There is more sugar and fat in most recipes than is needed, and no one will notice the difference if you skim calories by using lower calorie ingredients," says Diekman.
Her suggestions:
 Use fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy.
 Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods.
 Reduce oil and butter wherever you can.
 Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.

Police Your Portions
 Thanksgiving tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favorites. Before you fill your plate, survey the buffet table and decide what you're going to choose. Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without. "Don't waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long," suggests Diekman. "Fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable, traditional foods."
 Skip the Seconds. Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings. "Leftovers are much better the next day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and have more room for a delectable dessert," Diekman says.
 Choose the Best Bets on the Buffet. While each of us has our own favorites, keep in mind that some holiday foods are better choices than others. "White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, defatted gravy, and pumpkin pie tend to be the best bets because they are lower in fat and calories," says Diekman. But she adds that, "if you keep your portions small, you can enjoy whatever you like."

Be Realistic
The holiday season is a time for celebration. With busy schedules and so many extra temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss. "Shift from a mindset of weight loss to weight maintenance," says Finn. "You will be ahead of the game if you can avoid gaining any weight over the holidays."
Source: WebMD - By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD. Some content has been adapted for space.