The EALM Blog Shelf

While Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Team work on some new and exciting projects, you may notice less posts on the Eating and Living Moderately Blog. We have created a “blog shelf” below to keep you entertained and educated. Get caught up on the latest nutrition education by clicking on each year below. We will send you nutrition updates, but we will not be inundating your mailboxes on a weekly basis. If you want weekly “love” and inspiration, subscribe to our Mom Dishes It Out blog for weekly posts and recipes. Mom Dishes It Out provides expert advice from mom Registered Dietitians and mom Speech Pathologists on the “how to” of health promotion!

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The EALM Blog Shelf

Please feel free to peruse our posts organized by year below. Or take a look at the categories listed at the bottom of the page to find a post in the desired.







FODMAPS: A Look at their Role in Managing IBS

FODMAPS: A Look at their Role in Managing IBS
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team


Can you recall the last time you felt bloated, gassy, abdominal cramping, diarrhea or constipation? For most people, these symptoms are mild and once in a blue moon, but for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), there is no cure for this gut disorder and these symptoms are chronic issues that can disrupt the quality of life. The great news is that you can help manage your symptoms through nutrition!

Photo Credit: visualpanic via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: visualpanic via Compfight cc

When people think of gut symptoms like those mentioned above, one of the most common suggestions is limiting irritating food triggers like caffeine, alcohol, and fatty foods, as well as increasing fiber intake and fluid intake. However, when dealing with IBS, since these gut symptoms are broad and can vary from person to person, managing them with a one-size-fits all approach is not ideal. While there are various treatment suggestions for those suffering from IBS, following a low-FODMAP diet is the new nutrition therapy approach in town that has the potential to manage symptoms in most people with IBS.


Last month, we were fortunate enough to attend the Nutrition Grand Rounds at New York-Presbyterian Hospital to learn more about FODMAPs and their potential benefits in the treatment of IBS. The presentation featured two speakers Dr. Julie Khlevner, M.D., an expert in pediatric gastroenterology who oversees the new Pediatric Gastrointestinal Motility Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and Patsy Catsos, MS, RD, LD, author of the book IBS – Free at Last!. While Dr. Khlevner and Patsy both discussed treatment options for people with IBS, each speaker touched on very different areas and treatment options. Dr. Khlevner explained the process of testing, diagnosing and treatment in children and young adults. In terms of treatment options, Dr. Khlevner suggested keeping a food log, keeping an eye on trigger foods, taking probiotics, as well as IBS hypnotherapy. Patsy educated the audience on a food-based approach to treating IBS and the potential benefits of this dietary therapy.


Patsy Catsos explained dietitians play a starring role in the management of IBS. A high fiber intake has been a common recommendation for treating IBS symptom management, however, research has found that few people find the increased fiber to be helpful. Thankfully the use of FODMAPs has been becoming increasingly popular in the management of IBS symptoms and with a relief in symptoms. In fact, evidence has shown a FODMAP-elimination diet to reduce symptoms in 3 out of 4 people with IBS1.



What is IBS?

To start, lets give a background on Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS is classified as a Functional Gastrointestinal (bowel) Disorder and can consist of a variety of symptoms. Dr. Khlevner explained the symptoms as the “ABCs of IBS” –


  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Bloating, flatulence
  • Change in bowel habit
    • Stool urgency or straining
    • Incomplete evacuation


These symptoms often greatly impact a patient’s quality of life, especially in children and adolescents. Treatment for IBS can vary greatly per patient; however, common treatment options can include the use of probiotics, increased fiber intake, pharmacological interventions, psychological therapy, and lifestyle and dietary modifications.



What is a FODMAP?

FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that tend to be malabsorbed in people with IBS and can trigger or exacerbate symptoms. FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:

Fermentable (Produce Gas)
Oligosaccharides (Fructans and Galacto-oligosaccharides)
Disaccharides (Lactose)
Monosaccharides (Fructose)
Polyols (Sorbitol and Mannitol)


How do FODMAPs affect IBS?

The origination of IBS symptoms can, too, be caused by a number of factors, some including, chemicals found in packaged foods, such as nitrates or sulfites, as well as FODMAPs. The ingestion of FODMAPs are not the cause of IBS, rather what can trigger the troublesome symptoms like abdominal pain or bloating. Patsy spoke about the use of FODMAP elimination trials in patients with IBS. This idea behind FODMAPs is that when people with IBS consume sugars that their body can’t properly breakdown, it contributes to their symptoms. The FODMAP approach includes a 1-2 week elimination of all FODMAPs, which Patsy called the Elimination Phase. The FODMAPs are then reintroduced into the diet one at a time to allow for proper monitoring of the patient’s tolerance. It can help you determine which sugars you may be sensitive to, and what foods to limit in quantity or what foods to avoid altogether.


Photo Credit: La Grande Farmers' Market via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: La Grande Farmers’ Market via Compfight cc

Where are FODMAPs Found?1


  • Fructans, galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and inulin
  • Found in foods like:
    • Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic
    • Grains: wheat and rye
    • Fruits: watermelon


  • Lactose
  • Found in:
    • Milk, yogurt, ice cream


  • Fructose
  • Found in:
    • Fruits: apples, pears, peaches, mangoes, watermelon, dried fruit, and fruit juices
    • Sweeteners: honey, agave nectar and high-fructose corn syrup
    • Alcohol: sherry and port wine


  • Found in:
    • Fruits: apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, nectarines, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, and watermelon
    • Vegetables: cauliflower, button mushrooms, and snow peas
    • Sweeteners: sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, and isomalt (often found in sugar-free products like gum, mints, cough drops, and medications)


Important to Note:

Many foods contain FODMAPs and they may be very hard to avoid. You’ll likely find hundreds of food lists and suggestions of foods to avoid, which can lead to both confusion and restriction. Because of this, it’s very important to understand that the FODMAPs approach is not recommended for everyone to follow and is certainly not a weight loss diet or a cleanse, but a nutrition therapy that has the potential to help people with IBS figure out what foods trigger symptoms (…because let’s face it, constant bloating and gas isn’t fun for anyone or anyone around you!). If you’re still unsure about how to treat or manage your IBS symptoms, speak with your doctor, your dietitian, and/or check out the resources below:




  • And yes, there is an app for that! The research team at Monash recently launched a smartphone application: The Low FODMAP Diet. The app provides a list of hundreds of foods using traffic light signals i.e., (Red = Avoid and Green = Eat without fear) and according to serving sizes since smaller portions may be better tolerated.





1. Scarlata K. The FODMAPS Approach – minimize consumption of fermentable carbs to manage functional gut disorder symptoms. Today’s Dietitian Website. Available at: Published August, 2010. Accessed April 16, 2014. 

Navigating the Gluten-Free Aisle: A Guide to GF Shopping

Navigating the Gluten-Free Aisle: A Guide to Gluten-Free Shopping
By Lindsay Marr and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Photo Credit: Whatsername? via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Whatsername? via Compfight cc

The gluten-free world can be daunting, especially for a newly diagnosed celiac or gluten-intolerant. Navigating the aisles of the grocery store can seem even scarier. Thankfully, there are more gluten-free options in stores and the labeling laws are becoming stricter, making gluten-free shopping less of a matter of chance. We took to the grocery stores to try and help ease the confusion and offer you a list of some healthful gluten-free tips.


You may remember we wrote about the new gluten-free labels this past summer and touched on the different aspects of the gluten-free diet in the fall. To touch base, the FDA has decided to consider foods with no more than 20ppm (parts per million) of gluten as gluten-free. But, what does 20ppm mean, you ask?  20ppm is the least amount of gluten that can be found in foods via reliable scientific analysis testing. It is also the level that meets many other countries’ standards for safety.


Can you trust a gluten-free label?

With the new FDA rulings, you can expect food companies to be more cautious in their labeling. In fact, we may even see a few gluten-free products come off the shelves, as some manufacturers may not want to go through the trouble of abiding by the FDA’s gluten-free rulings. If you feel uneasy before the August 2014 deadline, you can look for two seals on packages to assure the products you’re buying are gluten-free.

Screen shot 2014-04-06 at 10.34.22 AM
This image was used with the permission of The Gluten Intolerance Group.

Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO): The GFCO is currently the leading gluten-free certification program in the world. It is an independent organization that verifies the “quality, integrity, and purity of products” and certifies gluten-free products to no more than 10 PPM.
Click here for the label.
CSA (Celiac Sprue Association): The CSA seal is given to products that have undergone a review and testing of ingredients to ensure the product is free of wheat, rye, barley and oats.


Which gluten-free products should I choose? 

Gluten free food companies are making efforts to make their food products more healthy by adding fiber, using brown rice flour instead of white rice flour and some are even using gluten free grains like buckwheat for this first ingredient. EALM was quite impressed to see these changes. However, some food labels noted the addition of added fibers like inulin, which is a non-digestible form of fiber that can cause gas.


Photo Credit: Caden Crawford via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Caden Crawford via Compfight cc

Let’s Go Shopping!

When searching for the gluten-free foods with the most nutrition, we recommend using the following tips:


  1. Always double check!
    • Be sure to read the ingredients list for potential gluten, even if the product boasts a GF label or seal of approval from the organizations mentioned above. Food products and manufacturing practices change often and some companies even use the GF seals fraudulently. So, be aware and read those ingredients!
  2. Read the ingredients to educate yourself on which product is more nutrient dense!
    • When searching for healthier GF packaged goods look for nutrient-dense flours like quinoa, garbanzo bean, and brown rice. Also watch where these items are listed within the ingredient lists – ideally they are listed in ingredients one through five.
  3. Look for natural fiber!
    • As mentioned before, many high-fiber GF foods contain added carbohydrates like inulin or psyllium husk. While these carbs add fiber without affecting the texture or taste of the food, they can result in gas production (not so comfy for sensitive stomachs). Look for products that are naturally gluten-free, like corn meal or certified gluten-free oats. When in doubt, you can increase your fruit and vegetable intake for a boost of fiber, too.
  4. When in doubt…
    • Tap into some resources! There are a number of apps, subscription services, and organizations that keep consumers updated on all news relating to gluten-free. Take a look at our list below that will help you be a GF detective.



Celiac Disease Foundation

  • The CDF offers numerous resources for those affected by Celiac Disease, including a list of GF medications and supplements, tips for managing the holidays, as well as the latest research and gluten-free news.


Celiac Sprue Association

  • The CSA’s website offers a host of resources for those with Celiac and gluten intolerance. With lists of restaurants, recipes, and information on GF labeling, you are sure to find great information on all things gluten-free.


Gluten Free Watchdog

  • This handy monthly subscription is run by registered dietitian, Tricia Thompson, and for only $4.99 per month, you can have access to the latest in gluten free news and product testing results.


Gluten Intolerance Group

  • The GIG offers an annual membership with perks including access to food and medical information, educational programs, events, and even summer camps for children with gluten-sensitivities.


National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (Celiac Central)

  • The NFCA offers a list of GF manufacturers, keeps readers updated on GF news, and provides free webinars for readers. This is a great site when looking for GF news and information.

Eating Healthfully When Gluten-Free

Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc

Eating Healthfully When Gluten-Free
By Lindsay Marr, B.S. and Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN

Are you eating enough folic acid? Is your gluten-free bread enriched? Are all gluten-free muffins created equal? Last Sunday, I learned the answer was NO. I had the opportunity to attend a presentation hosted by the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group. The main presenter was Cheryl Leslie, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and mother of two children, both with celiac disease. I learned a few very important tips to ensure a gluten-free diet was free of nutrient deficiencies.

When Comparing Labels:

Cheryl explained that she maintains a gluten-free household for her children and while she is constantly on the lookout for great gluten-free finds, she always inspects the nutrition labels. One of my favorite parts of the presentation was Cheryl’s breakdown of the nutrition facts label and her explanation of the steps she takes to ensure that she is comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges. Let me explain:

  • Review the grams of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, and calories of three gluten-free blueberry muffins.
  • Note the weight of the products, as well as the serving sizes.
    • Identify if the muffins were of equal weights, how the nutrition components would change and what the facts would be.
    • Hint: Just because something is less in sugar and fat doesn’t mean it is better. It may be only due to the fact it is smaller.
  • Compare the nutrition facts of the three muffins if they were the same weight and determine which muffin you prefer.

Nutritional Shortcomings of GFD:

Cheryl then went on to discuss possible deficiencies in the GFD. Did you know the majority of flour sold in our country is enriched with vitamins and nutrients? According to the FDA, for a food to be labeled as “enriched” with a specific nutrient, it must “contain at least 10% more of the Daily Value of that nutrient than a food of the same type that is not enriched”[i]. In the case of flour, to be considered an “enriched flour” the FDA requires the flour to contain “specified amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and iron”[i].

The enrichment of wheat flour provides a good portion, if not the majority, of these nutrients in the average American’s diet. Gluten-free foods, however, do not require enrichment because they are considered to be supplemental. Therefore, by eliminating gluten from our diets and, in turn, eliminating enriched flours, we could potentially be missing out on the following key nutrients: folate, iron, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Here is a list of dietary sources containing the 5 nutrients most likely to be missing when maintaining a gluten-free diet:

Screen shot 2013-12-15 at 4.47.26 PM

As a nutrition professional (future-RD), and someone with celiac disease, Cheryl reminded me how it is vital to maintain a balanced diet filled with fresh and whole foods. And as the chart above shows, we can get our nutrients from fresh and non-packaged foods.

Having to eat gluten-free can easily cause a person to feel restricted and may even cause people to reach for more of the packaged goods. It’s easy to think “I can’t eat my favorite bread anymore, so I deserve this gluten-free cookie.” While many of us love these convenient foods, it is important to compliment them with wholesome fresh foods for an optimal dietary intake.

Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos via Compfight cc

As the saying goes, everything in moderation!! Educate yourself about reading the food label, not only for ingredients that may contain gluten, but also for missing vitamins and minerals, as well as, the weight of a serving size.  And, of course, be sure to eat fresh foods too.



i “Are Foods That Contain Added Nutrients Considered “enriched”?” FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. <>.



New FDA Ruling Making Waves in Gluten-Free Community

glutenThe American Journal of Gastroenterology recently found that the prevalence of Celiac Disease in America affects every 1 in 141 people[1]. This past spring we featured a blog post explaining the ins and outs of the gluten-free diet. We touched on Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, and the false idea that gluten-free automatically means weight loss. Now that we all have a better understanding of the gluten-free world, we have some great news to share! Earlier this month, the FDA made great strides in the gluten-free community by officially defining a standard that will apply to foods bearing the gluten-free label.

What Will This Mean? Let’s Get To The Good Stuff!

Gluten-free labeling has been a bit of a free-for-all over the past few decades. Meaning there was little to no regulation on what classified a product as gluten-free. According to a study featured in BMC Medicine, the gluten-free food industry has expanded to over $2 billion in global sales, as of 2010[2]. With the rapid expansion and lack of regulatory standards, choosing gluten free products could be a rather big risk for those with Celiac Disease and gluten-sensitivities.

As we mentioned in our previous gluten-free feature, Celiac Disease has no cure. The only known way to manage the disease is through a strict, gluten-free diet. Andrea Levario, the executive director of the American Celiac Disease Alliance, stated, “not having a legal definition of ‘gluten-free,’ consumers could never be positive that their body would tolerate a food with the gluten-free label.[3]” Therefore, this new ruling is causing many people with Celiac Disease and the gluten-intolerant to rejoice in the safety of the universal standard.

The rule will apply to the following labels:

  • “Gluten-free”
  • “No gluten”
  • “Free of gluten”
  • “Without gluten”

We now know that gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, as well as some contaminated oats and that even the smallest amount can cause symptoms in those with Celiac and gluten-intolerance. The FDA has decided to consider foods with no more than 20ppm (parts per million) of gluten as gluten-free. But, what does the 20ppm mean, you ask?  20ppm is the least amount of gluten that can be found in foods via reliable scientific analysis testing. It is also the level that meets many other countries’ standards for safety.

Manufacturers will have until August 5th, 2014 to abide by the ruling. Michael R. Taylor, J.D., the Deputy FDA Food Commissioner, states that while the FDA believes the majority of gluten-free companies already fall under compliance, they urge companies to closely examine their practices, before the one-year mark from the ruling3.

While the FDA will not be testing these products before they hit the market, if a food item is found to violate the ruling, the item will be subject to an official FDA investigation, and possible suspension.

What a month for the gluten-free community!  We are pleased that this ruling will allow for a safer shopping experience for gluten-free folks!


For more detailed information on the FDA’s ruling, please visit the FDA’s website.

[1] Rubio-Tapia, Alberto, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, Tricia L. Brantner, Joseph A. Murray, and James E. Everhart. “The Prevalence of Celiac Disease in the United States.” The American Journal of Gastroenterology, Oct. 2012. Web. 26 Aug. 2013. <>.

[2] Sapone, Anna, Julio C. Bai, Carolina Ciacci, Jernej Dolinsek, Peter HR Green, and Marios Hadjivassiliou. “Spectrum of Gluten-related Disorders: Consensus on New Nomenclature and Classification.” BMC Medicine. BioMed Central Medicine, 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 26 Aug. 2013. <>.

[3] “For Consumers.” What Is Gluten-Free? FDA Has an Answer. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 02 Aug. 2013. Web. 26 Aug. 2013. <>.



Is Greek Frozen Yogurt Everyone's Answer to Dessert?


In the past few years, frozen yogurt has become an increasingly popular food. With its creamy texture, thick consistency, and boasting more protein than regular yogurt, it’s no surprise that Greek yogurt has expanded to a wide variety of products on the shelves. From shelf stable products like cereals or covered pretzels to Greek frozen yogurt ice cream, are the commercial products that contain this tangy yogurt just as healthy as Greek yogurt itself? Read on to find out if Greek frozen yogurt is everyone’s answer to dessert!

What Is Greek Yogurt?

The processing, flavor, and nutrition content of Greek yogurt differs greatly from regular yogurt. Greek yogurt has been strained, and the whey is removed; which yields a thick and creamy product. It is also tangier than regular yogurt. Its thick consistency allows for it to easily act as a substitute for many ingredients. For example, Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for recipes that call for whole milk, sour cream, or even cream cheese! (Try Fage non-fat, plain Greek yogurt for a healthier alternative to cream cheese. It’s thick consistency allows it stay in tact yet spreadable on toasts!) Compared to regular yogurt, most Greek yogurts have higher protein and calcium content and lower added sugar content. Note that calcium content can vary depending on the brand and flavor of the yogurt. When food shopping, check the back of the nutrition label to see the percentage of calcium that the product contains. Typically it can vary from 20-50% calcium.

Is it Healthier?

With it’s reputation for being healthier, a recent trend is that people have been substituting Greek frozen yogurt for ice cream or frozen yogurt. But is it really healthier or just as healthy as Greek yogurt itself?  Here is breakdown of some popular items’ nutrient compositions:

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 3.56.41 PM

From the information above, you can see that Chobani non-fat Greek yogurt has the least calories as well as the most protein. Instead of focusing on the calorie content however, note that the protein content is what really sets Greek yogurt apart from the frozen products. The protein will increase satiety—essentially helping to keep you feeling full, longer—and it won’t spike your insulin. Compared to its frozen counterpart, this makes Greek yogurt a great everyday food choice for those who may have diabetes or are insulin resistant. And if you’re looking to reap the health benefits of Greek yogurt, enjoy it straight from the container or use it as a healthy alternative for recipes like salads, dips, and even cheesecakes!

It’s important to recognize that while Greek yogurt itself can be a nutritionally dense and tasty food, know that not every Greek yogurt product is going to have the same nutritional value. Unfortunately, the labeling of the product as “Greek frozen yogurt” may create a perception that it provides the same benefits as regular Greek yogurt. Products that claim to contain Greek yogurt (whether frozen or shelf stable) often contain added sugars like syrups or candy pieces, and fillers, which increase the saturated fat and dwindle the amount of Greek yogurt that is actually in the product.

Despite the differences between Greek yogurt or Greek frozen yogurt, the takeaway is that it is perfectly OK to enjoy Greek frozen yogurt (or simply ice cream!) sometimes as a snack or dessert. Remember, here at Eating and Living Moderately, we believe in enjoying all foods in moderation and balance!

















4 Smart Superbowl Swaps

After the holiday madness, most of us made a resolution to start the new year on a healthy note.  We are only one month in and with Super Bowl weekend quickly approaching, many of us will be thrown off track by the endless buffets of fried foods, chips and dips.  You don’t have to deprive yourself during the big game, just make sure to practice intuitive eating and consume foods in moderation. Pay attention to portions, and always stock up on proteins and fresh fruits and veggies since they will help keep you satisfied longer!  If you are hosting the party or looking for something to bring, why not try a few of these healthy alternatives to traditional Super Bowl Sunday favorites that everyone will love and will not have you missing the extra fat and calories!

Broiled Buffalo Wings

Serves 10

2 pounds chicken wings, split at the joint 
(~20 wings)

1/4 cup of your favorite hot sauce

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 clove garlic


Place wings into a large pot and fill the pot with cold water to cover the wings by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. While chicken is boiling heat your broiler to HIGH. When done, drain and place chicken wings on rimmed cookie sheet. Broil 6 inches from element or flame for 5 to 6 minutes per side. The skin should blister and brown. You will notice that the skin appears to be crispy. While chicken is in the oven, combine hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and garlic in small bowl.  Set aside. Put chicken wings into bowl or dish and toss with hot sauce to evenly coat.

Serving Size: 5 wings, 240 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g carbohydrates, 27 g protein, 1 g fiber

Broccoli and Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

Serves 8 

8 large baking potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 pound broccoli florets (approx 5 cups)

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups grated low-fat Cheddar

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1/4 cup skim milk

Salt and pepper

 Preheat oven to 375°F. Rub potatoes with 1 Tbsp. oil; pierce with a knife. Bake until tender, 1 hour and 30 minutes. Steam broccoli until tender, 5 minutes. Drain; rinse. Pat dry and roughly chop. In a skillet over low heat, warm 1 Tbsp. oil. Sauté onion until soft, 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let potatoes rest until cool enough to handle. Set oven to 350°F. Cut top 1/4 inch off potato. Scoop out flesh. Mash potato flesh. Mix with remaining ingredients. Fill potato shells with mixture; bake 30 minutes.

368 calories, 6.0g fat, 10.4g fiber, 64.4g carbohydrates, 16.4g protein

Chili Lime Tortilla Chips

Serves 6


12 6-inch corn tortillas

Canola oil cooking spray

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon salt


Position oven racks in the middle and lower third of oven; preheat to 375°F. Coat both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray and cut into quarters.
3. Place tortilla wedges in an even layer on 2 large baking sheets. Combine lime juice and chili powder in a small bowl. Brush the mixture on each tortilla wedge and sprinkle with salt. Bake the tortillas, switching the baking sheets halfway through, until golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.

90 calories, 1.0g fat, 17.0 g carbohydrates, 3.0g fiber, 2.0 g protein

Cucumber Salsa

Serves 8


2 cups finely chopped seeded peeled cucumber

1/2 cup finely chopped seeded tomato

1/4 cup chopped red onion

2 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and chopped

4-1/2 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro

1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

1/4 cup 0% nonfat Greek yogurt

1-1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt


In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and serve with toasted pita wedges or tortilla chips.

12 calories, 0.1g fat, 1.8g carbohydrates, 1.0g protein


A Plant Powered Lifestyle

Sharon Palmer, who is also a Registered Dietitian, recently sent me a copy her new book, The Plant Powered Diet. (We’re also giving away one copy to a lucky reader.. for details read on!) While incorporating research studies, an array of informational charts and recipes, Sharon’s book comes down to one main point:


After a few pages and a chapter or two in, it became clear that despite the title, this is not a typical “how-to diet book.” In fact, the author does a great job of not labeling any foods good or bad, but does an excellent job of providing an abundant amount of information, allowing readers to make his or her decisions about which plant-based foods are best to eat. From shopping organic, cooking, dining out, and teaching you how to calculate your protein needs, Sharon has covered nearly every topic or question you might have about eating more plant-based foods.

Nearly every holiday is centered on the 4 F’s: family, friends, fun and food! Quite often, the day is centered on the latter. For many, a turkey, chicken or roast beef is a focal point of the holiday meal. This year however, I challenge you to power the holidays with a more plant-based approach.  Whether you’re a committed omnivore, vegetarian or vegan, try incorporating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains into the holiday festivities! With family gatherings and parties, take advantage of this holiday season by using it to expose your loved ones to more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

A great takeaway from this book is that vegetables, fruits and whole grains can be incorporated into many dishes, savory or sweet. They can act as substitutes in your favorite dishes or shine on their own. The important thing to remember is that this shouldn’t be view as a temporary diet, but rather a lifestyle change. Change doesn’t begin overnight but it can be a start! Begin by trying one new vegetable every week, or simply ensuring you are eating vegetables throughout your day, whether in your meals or snacks.

Here are 3 of our favorite tips from Sharon’s book, that can help steer you in a healthier direction:

1. Stem-to-Root Eating — One of our favorite sustainable tips from the book, Sharon emphasizes consuming every part of the plant. Sometimes we lose site of the best parts of a plant that are very much still edible. Instead of tossing out your broccoli stalks, kale stems or beet tops, give it a second chance to become a tasty part of your meal!

2. For any favorite recipe, try substituting a whole plant fat like avocado for refined oils — In cakes, you can substitute half the amount of butter or even a mayonaise-like spread with pureed avocado.

3. For dessert recipes, try substituting whole fruit for added sugar instead — “Use the natural sweetness of fruits to sweeten breads, cookies and desserts while gaining a serving of antioxidant-rich fruit.”

For a chance to enter into our giveaway for a copy of Sharon Palmer’s The Plant Powered Diet, click here!

Energy Bars: The On-the-Go Nosh

In today’s society, we are constantly on the run. If we’re not students rushing to class, parents rushing to pick up their kids or dropping them off, then we’re probably rushing to meet our friends or medical appointments. Sometimes, we are so busy and exhausted that many of us just do not have the time to sit down for a bite. So what happens to those of us who finally sit down but are crunched for time? Whether consumed as a snack or meal replacement, many of us opt for an energy bar. With so many options, which bars give a healthier boost? Here are 5 of our favorite energy bars for an on-the-go nosh:

1. Zing

This gluten and soy-free bar is so tasty, we almost forget it’s an energy bar. With about 20 grams of carbohydrates per bar, Zing may be ideal for those who have diabetes, have celiac disease or food intolerances.

2. LaraBar

These bars generally contain less than 8 ingredients and are made of fruits, nuts and spices. Flavorful, but some varieties can contain up to 14-17 grams of sugar so beware. However, we do love the sweet and saltiness of the Roasted Nut Roll, which at 7 grams of sugar per bar, contains half the amount of sugar than the others. The raw nuts make this bar a tasty choice for those following a raw food lifestyle.

3. Kind Bars

These bars are generally made with about 10 rather simple ingredients, many which include nuts, honey, puffed rice and dried fruits. The use of whole, not ground nuts, contribute to the texture and “homemade” feel.

5. Health Warrior Chia Bars

Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids! When we discovered that these vegan bars were made with chia, we were glad to see them successfully added to more foods! Every bar is 100 calories and contains 4 grams of sugar. With 15 grams of carbohydrates, these chia bars may be ideal for someone who has diabetes.

In spite of a hectic schedule, the busy individual should never feel like they need to rely on energy bars to meet calorie or nutritional needs. Although energy bars can be incorporated as a healthy part of a meal structure, there’s nothing quite like fresh or wholesome foods.  Moreover, many of these bars appear nutritious but can have hidden levels of high sugar, additives, carbohydrates and calories. Keep in mind that many of these energy bars were created for athletes, and not for those who do minimal to no exercise.  If given the option between an energy bar or meal when crunched for time, it is best to grab a quick meal. However, if there’s absolutely no way around to grabbing a quick meal (let’s face it, sometimes that’s just not practical) follow this bar code when searching for an on-the-go chew:

  1. Keep it simple – Don’t be tricked by the word “energy bar.” When it comes to figuring out the nutritional value of an energy bar, a consumer’s best bet may be to first scan the back for a list of ingredients, then look at the nutrition label. If there is a long, running list of unfamiliar ingredients that you are unable to pronounce, another bar may be a better option.
  2. Consider your energy and activity needs – Think about your activity for the day. If you will be going on a long run, you may chose a bar with a different nutritional content than an individual who will be doing minimal activity.
  3. Create your own, healthy & homemade energy bars – If you have time, consider making a large batch of bars ahead of time. Not only are they easy to make, but you will also know exactly what ingredients went into them. You can even make them ahead of time and store them for an easy, on-the-go chew! For an even easier and quicker recipe, try packing a homemade trail mix.
  4. Think outside of the box – If you’re looking for energy bars to be your meal replacer, consider grabbing a Greek yogurt and enjoy it with a banana or top it with fresh berries.


Sugar Substitutes: A Sweet Deal?

Sugar Substitutes: A Sweet Deal?

Seated at a restaurant or standing at the coffee bar, do you reach for the blue, yellow, pink or green packet? Well, that depends. Do you prefer aspartame, neotame, saccharin or sucralose with your coffee? If you have no idea what any of these ingredients are, perhaps the names of these sweeteners will sound more familiar: Equal, NutraSweet, Sweet’N Low and Splenda. When did these artificial sweeteners become so popular? In addition to these colorful packets conveniently offered at nearly every restaurant and cafe, our current food supply provides us with an abundant array of foods in “sugar-free” forms. But are these sugar-free options really healthier for us?

Tastes like sugar, looks like sugar but is it sugar?

By themselves, artificial sweeteners contain the sweetness of regular table sugar but without the calories. As you will see in the table below, artificial sweeteners are much more sweeter than sugar.

With the rise in obesity and diabetes, it’s no surprise that sugar has gained a bad reputation. Whether it is due to personal health reasons like managing diabetes or health conscious individuals who are looking to moderate their intake, many people try to avoid sugar at all costs. But what are the health costs of subbing in artificial sweeteners for the real deal? Although artificial sweeteners mimic the sweetness of sugar, no matter how it may taste or look, artificial sweeteners are chemicals.

Currently, there is a very large market for sugar substitutes, both man-made and natural. For now, it may interest you a few differences about these popular sugar substitute brands:

Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
220x sweeter than sugar
It loses its sweetness when exposed to heat.
Made with an amino acid, phenylalanine – those who have phenylketonuria should steer clear from this!
Sucralose (Splenda)
600x sweeter than sugar
Does not break down when cooked or baked, which is why it is in many foods and drinks.
Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, SugarTwin)
200-700x sweeter than sugar
Stevia (PureVia)
200-300x sweeter than sugar
Derived from the plant Stevia rebaudiana
Although it’s only gained recent popularity in the U.S., the Japanese have been using it for decades.

In terms of safety, the FDA reviews artificial sweeteners and sets a limit on the amount people should consume which is based on an individual’s weight. Although they are generally deemed safe to consume, it is possible to get by without them. To learn more about different types of sweeteners, their composition and research studies that tested their safety, click here.

Artificial Sweeteners: The Catch 22

When it comes to artificial sweeteners, be mindful that they are not limited to the colorful packets you find in restaurants and cafés. Today, these sweeteners are found everywhere. Anything labeled “sugar-free,” or “diet” may be artificially sweetened. At zero to little calories, it’s no wonder why many artificial sweeteners are appealing to consumers. But wait—are these artificial sweeteners really zero calories? While this may be the case for sweeteners packaged in their individual packets, it is not always the case when present in foods and beverages. Sugar-free food doesn’t mean calorie-free food! With artificial sweeteners, we may trick ourselves into thinking we consumed less—when we actually end up consuming more.

Whether it is artificial or natural, consuming anything sweet generally encourages “sugar craving and sugar dependence (2).” Moreover, studies show that flavor preference for sweets can be trained by repeated exposure to sweets (3).This means that the more sweets we expose our palates to, the more our taste buds will ask for them.

The body’s reaction to artificial sweeteners raises other questions, such as whether or not substitutes are fueling our nation’s obesity epidemic. Research suggests a correlation between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and long-term weight gain (1). Although sugar-free foods can help with weight loss or aid in calorie control, artificial sweeteners can often distort our perception of calories. Consuming foods made with artificial sweeteners may satisfy our current cravings while  low in calories, but later our bodies may be searching for those calories, leading to additional cravings.

On the other hand, some people do not associate artificially sweetened foods and beverages with calories. For example, even though a sugar-free cookie is likely to contain fewer calories than a regular cookie (which in theory can help reduce one’s calorie intake) if an individual decides to eat an entire box of sugar-free cookies, then the individual will have probably consumed more calories than what would have been in one regular cookie made with real sugar.

Live a Sweet Life with Less Added Sugar

This week, challenge yourself! Our taste buds are ever changing and it is possible to retrain them. When it comes to your morning cup of Joe, try adding 1 less packet. If you typically add only 1 packet, try adding only half. If you typically drink soda, try switching to flavored carbonated water, like Perrier. Or, if you are craving for something sweet, opt for a sliced fruits on whole wheat breads with some peanut butter or perhaps a homemade smoothie. By adding fruit, not only do you get the natural sweetness, but is also full of flavor, antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Try to cut down on sweets in general. Now this does not mean you should deprive yourself—in moderation, it is perfectly okay to enjoy sweets. If you want your cake, eat it. It is better to consume less of the real thing rather than more of the artificial one. Savor the taste and enjoy it in moderation.

Adopt small changes to turn make it part of a healthier lifestyle. When possible, it is best to avoid any added sweeteners (4). Although artificial sweeteners are considered safe and may help people manage Diabetes, they are most commonly found in processed and packaged foods. In terms of nutrition and living a healthy and happy lifestyle, they are not as nutrient-dense as whole, unprocessed foods. Since artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than table sugar, if used, should be used in very small quantities–or if you must, to stick with Stevia. Just remember, it is possible to live a sweet life, with less added sugar.



  1. Fowler SP, Williams K, Resendez RG, et al. Fueling the obesity epidemic? Artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2008;16:1894–900. [PubMed]
  2. Liem DG, De Graaf C. Sweet and sour preferences in young children and adults: role of repeated exposure. Physiology and Behavior. 2004;83(3):421–429. [PubMed]
  3. Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010;83:101–108. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  4. A/ADA Scientific Statement: Nonnutritive Sweeteners: Current Use and Health Perspectives: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association