All posts by Amy Gorin

4 Smart Food Pairings to Boost Your Health

What you eat is important, but so is how you eat it. Turns out you can pair certain foods together to increase how many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you absorb — and, in some case, to reduce risk of disease. Give these four pairings a try!

 

Broccoli + citrus juice

Squeeze lemon juice onto steamed broccoli, or mix a little orange juice into a sautéed broccoli dish. The vitamin C in the citrus will help your body absorb more of the plant-based (aka non-heme) iron in the spinach. This also works with other sources of plant-based iron, such as broccoli, beans and tofu.

 Recipe to try: Lemon Broccoli (pictured above)

Eggs + veggies

Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse on their own, with one large egg offering 6 grams of high-quality protein,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies. “Pairing them with veggies like spinach can provide you with even more nutritional gains.” Case in point: A study in The Journal of Nutrition found that adding whole eggs to a raw vegetable salad may help you better absorb vitamin E, a powerful health-promoting antioxidant.

Recipe to try: Skillet Spring Greens Asparagus Frittata (pictured above)

Rice + beans

Foods like eggs, chicken, and beef are complete proteins, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids your body needs to create muscle, collagen, and other proteins. Your body can’t make these essential amino acids on its own, so they must come from food sources — otherwise, your body’s cells will take part their own proteins to get the missing amino acids. When a food is missing some essential amino acids, it’s important to pair it with another food containing those amino acids. “Although both rice and beans are healthy choices, separately they do not provide all the amino acids you need,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen. “However, once you pair them together, the amino acids found in rice complements those found in beans, making the combination a high-quality protein.”

Recipe to try: Rice and Bean Salad (pictured above)

 

Grilled meat + rosemary

“Grilling meat can create carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs),” say Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CFT and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CFT, co-authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. “Adding spices like rosemary to the meat, as well as marinating it first, may cut the HCAs by as much as 70 percent.” Marinating meat can prevent formation of the carcinogens, and the antioxidants in rosemary are thought to have a HCA-reducing effect.

Recipe to try: Red Wine-Rosemary Grilled Flank Steak

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

5 Foods to Help Your Respiratory Health

Did you know that what you eat can benefit how your lungs function, and how well you can breathe? Give these five foods a try for improved respiratory health.

 

Pears

Eating more fresh fruit like pears may decrease production of phlegm, found a Scottish study in the European Respiratory Journal. In the study, adults regularly eating fresh fruit had a 30 to 40 percent reduced prevalence of phlegm for three or more months per year and in the morning in winter. “Pears are portable and can easily be found nationwide,” says Shaw. “Not only are they bursting with fiber, which helps keep you fuller for longer, they’ve also got vitamin C, an important antioxidant that can boost your immunity.” Pair pears with almond butter, or add thin slices to a grilled cheese sandwich.

 

Matcha

This green tea boasts caffeine, which may improve lung function in people with asthma for up to four hours, per a Cochrane review study. “Matcha green tea also offers a healthy boost of polyphenols and L-theanine, which may help keep you focused and calm while also alert,” says Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, author of The MIND Diet.  

 

Sweet Potatoes

Here’s a veggie that tops the charts for vitamin A and is also an excellent source of vitamin C. “These two antioxidants protect against oxidative stress and inflammation in people with asthma,” says Moon. She suggests topping a baked sweet potato with toasted almonds, which are vitamin E superstars.

 

Black Cumin

This spice may fight inflammation and help lower resistance in the respiratory airway — potentially helping get more air to the lungs. People with partially controlled asthma who supplemented with black cumin saw improvements in both inflammation and pulmonary function, per a small study in Annals of Saudi Medicine.

 

Fish

Eating fish like salmon and sardines may help your respiratory health: Kids who ate less fish were more likely to report poor respiratory health, especially more coughing and wheezing, in a European study. It’s possible that the omega-3s in fish may provide protective respiratory benefits. Grill salmon with veggies, or add sardines to a Greek salad.

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

What Vegetarian Dietitians Eat at Fast-Food Restaurants  

As a dietitian and longtime vegetarian, I find that people are often surprised to hear that I do sometimes eat fast food. But these days, there are some tasty, balanced vegetarian options at restaurants like Subway, Chipotle, and Panera. Here are some of my healthy favorites, and picks from fellow vegetarian and vegan dietitians.

 

Subway: Veggie Delite Salad + Egg Patty

This is my off-the-menu go-to: I top a Veggie Delite Salad with an egg patty. I request a base of spinach and add a ton of veggies: tomatoes, green bell peppers, red onion, cucumber, banana peppers, and jalapenos. I top the salad with sprinkling of shredded cheese, as well as dried oregano and red wine vinegar. I love that Subway sells apple slices, so I’ll usually grab a baggie of those, as well.

 

Taco Bell: Fresco Bean Burrito

“I’ve been eating this for years on road trips,” says Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, blogger at Whole Green Wellness. “Fresco means replacing the sour cream and cheese with pico de gallo.” You can also add extra veggies — like lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapenos — for a little bit extra.

 

McDonald’s: Fruit & Maple Oatmeal

McD’s now serves breakfast all day, which means you can pick up this vegetarian oatmeal anytime. “It’s easy to go overboard on sodium if you choose the breakfast sandwich route,” says Meredith Harper, MS, RDN, owner of MeredithRD.com. “Many contain at least half the daily recommended limit, but this oatmeal has only 140 milligrams of sodium.” Order it with a slight modification: “I recommend choosing to get it without the brown sugar — it’s sweet enough as is,” says Harper.

 

Chipotle: Burrito Bowl

Load up a customized bowl with veggies, as does Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, owner of ChampagneNutrition.com. “I get every type of veggie Chipotle offers, including fajita veggies and all types of salsa,” says Hultin, who requests both pinto and black beans. Note for vegans: The Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette contains honey, so opt instead for guacamole as a topper.

 

Panera: Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa

This is a favorite of Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, owner of NutritionalaNatalie.com. “The salad has 510 calories and11 grams of protein, and it’s a heart, filling, and tasty lunch,” says Rizzo. “I usually opt for an apple as my side to keep the calories to a minimum and increase my fiber intake.” You can also order a half portion and pair it with cup of soup or a half sandwich.

 

Panda Express: Eggplant Tofu

“It’s so hard to find vegetables in fast-food choices, so this dish is great,” says Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life. Veggies add filling fiber, and this dish is a good source. Palmer suggests pairing it with steamed brown rice for additional fiber.

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

8 Healthy Meal Hacks to Steal From Dietitians


I love a nutritious meal, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m all about the shortcuts that make healthy cooking easy and fast! I was curious about what hacks my dietitian colleagues use in the kitchen, so I asked them for their best:

 

Heat hacks

  • Turn your rice cooker into a workhorse. “Like steel-cut oatmeal, but don’t like waiting 40 minutes?” asks Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, author of The MIND Diet. “Add oats and water according to package directions, and use the porridge setting on your rice cooker. Do it at night, and you’ll have perfect steel-cut oats in the morning. Rice cookers can also steam vegetables, cook fish in 15 minutes, or even slow-cook chicken or pork—just add broth and aromatics.”
  • Cook extra portions. “Make extra servings of food that you can repurpose,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It. 
    “Tonight’s grilled salmon for dinner can become tomorrow’s salmon over salad for lunch. Or just mash the salmon along with chopped veggies, egg, spices, and breadcrumbs. Then shape into salmon patties, and you’ll have a great dish for Sunday brunch!”

 

Fridge hacks

  • Stash prewashed veggies. “I always keep a bag of prewashed spinach in the fridge to add to breakfast wraps or muffin-tin omelets,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, owner of com.  “For lunch, spinach makes a perfect bed for any protein like tuna or salmon salad—or it works as a nutrient-rich sandwich topper. And, it sautés in about a minute for a perfect add-in to any pasta dish or to bulk up a microwavable frozen entree.”
  • Refrigerate extra veggies. “Chop and sauté a large batch of onions, peppers, mushrooms, and fresh spinach,” says Hope Warshaw, RD, CDE, author of Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy. “Refrigerate it, and use it in a pasta sauce, on a pizza, in an omelet—or in couscous, quinoa, or other healthy grains. You’ll have a jumpstart on dinner.

 

Freezer hacks

  • Make smoothie packs. “Save time at breakfast by making smoothie packs,” says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CSCS, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Fill multiple quart-size plastic bags each with a cup of leafy greens, a cup of cut-up fresh or frozen fruit, a Tablespoon of chia or flax seeds, and two Tablespoons of nuts. You can also freeze plain Greek yogurt in ice cube trays, and toss the frozen yogurt cubes in the bag. Stick the smoothie pack in the freezer, and pull one out when you want to make a quick smoothie.”
  • Stock your freezer with frozen veggies. “I love to keep a few bags of frozen veggies on hand to throw together dinner in a flash,” says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, owner of com. “Frozen peas and any sort of frozen greens are my veggies of choices, because you can heat them up in minutes and throw them into a tortilla with a little cheese and canned beans to make a quesadilla. They also go great in an omelet. Just be careful of trying to eat frozen veggies alone because they can be slightly mushy after reheating.”
  • Prep your greens. “We blend three cups of tightly packed spinach or kale with one-half cup water and then pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it,” say Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CFT, co- authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. “We simply drop a few spinach cubes into smoothies, soups, omelets, stir-fries, and pasta sauces—and even use the cubes as broth.”
  • Freeze extra stock. “I often whip up a chicken stock to make my kids a warming chicken noodle soup,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen. “Instead of letting extra stock go to waste, I freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, I place the frozen cubes into a resealable bag labeled with the date frozen, as well as a three- month use-by date. When I’m making quinoa or brown rice—or just want to punch up the flavor in dishes, I can easily defrost the chicken stock ice cube in the microwave or stovetop.”

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

5 Pulses That Are Great For You

As a vegetarian dietitian, I eat a lot of pulses, the group of legumes that includes beans, lentils, dry peas and chickpeas. I top my salads with them, mix them into brownie batter, and bake them into casseroles. And while 2016 was the Year of Pulses, these superfoods continue to grow in popularity. Here are a few of my favorite pulses — which all happen to be great for you — plus some ideas for cooking with them.

 

Chickpeas

A half-cup serving of cooked chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) offer up about 7 grams of protein, or 15 percent of the daily value. They’re an excellent source of fiber and offer 13 percent of the daily value for iron. Use them to make a Chickpea Crust Pizza or a Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew—or bake them into a Spicy Baked Chickpeas dish. Reserve the aquafaba, or chickpea water, and use that to make a vegan meringue.

 

Black Beans

These beans are terrific in a Black Bean and Corn Salad. They’re versatile way beyond Mexican dishes—and make a great protein addition to Black Bean Brownies. A half-cup serving of the cooked beans offers close to 8 grams of fiber, providing 30 percent of the daily value. Black beans are a good source of protein and an excellent source of folate, a nutrient of particular importance during pregnancy.

 

Lentils

There are many types of lentils, including green, French green, red, and black. Lentils are one of the highest-protein beans, boasting almost 9 grams, or 18 percent of the daily value, per half-cup serving of cooked beans, as well as about 8 grams of fiber. They’re also a good source of blood-pressure-helping potassium. Have them in a Lentil Soup, as Cilantro Lentils, or in an Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes dish.

 

Black-Eyed Peas

Despite their name, these are actually beans and also go by the name cowpeas. Give them a go anytime of the year—not just on New Year’s Day when eating them is thought to bring good fortune! They’re an excellent source of both fiber and folate. Enjoy them in a Black-Eyed Pea and Spinach Salad or in a savory oatmeal dish, such as Healthy Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas Over Oats.

 

Lima Beans

Lima beans make a great Lima Bean Dip, and they also pair well with fish (try Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans). These petite green beans make an excellent source of fiber and a good source of protein, and a half-cup serving of cooked limas delivers 14 percent of the daily value of potassium.

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.