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Back to school for many signifies cooler weather, updated school supplies and brand new routines. It may also mark a good time to introduce new practices to support better health. One way in which we can better support our health is by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our snacks and lunches. Based on the MyPlate model, adults and children alike should aim to fill half their plate with vegetables and fruits. Eating more fruits and vegetables means an increased intake in fiber, essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It may also mean a reduction in the risk of developing chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers.

The month of September is Fruits and Veggies More Matters Month. Fruits and Veggies More Matters is a health initiative, created by the Produce for Better Health Foundation.  Produce for Better Health (PBH) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote an increased daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. PBH along with the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance Steering Committee developed Fruits and Veggies More Matters to support the recommendations outlined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Fruits and Veggies More Matters serves as a useful resource for individuals and families looking to diversify their recipes and focus in on better nutrition daily. Their website provides meal plans (budget friendly), recipes, shopping tips and community resources.

Whether you are a veteran produce eater or a novice, there are many ways to add a serving of fruit or vegetables (or both) to your plate.

10 ways to increase fruit and vegetable intake in the new academic year:

  1. Try “Meatless Mondays
  2. Instead of a pre-packaged brownie for dessert, try half  of a banana thinly covered with peanut butter, lightly sprinkled with mini dark chocolate chips or (frozen) grapes dipped in Greek yogurt
  3. Snack on spicy edamame or hummus with snap peas
  4. Feast on a plant-based nourish bowl
  5. Mix it up with this mason jar salad guide
  6. Pack a green smoothie for breakfast
  7. Build your own trail mix with no sugar added, dried fruit
  8. Introduce a plant-based “Taco Tuesday” (think: lentil tacos or black bean burritos)
  9. Bell pepper slices with white bean dip for a quick bite
  10. Pick one new fruit or vegetable to try each week – keep a list

Start the year off right by putting your health and wellness first!

When you think of lasagna, what comes to mind? Fresh tomatoes and herbs used to make a homemade tomato sauce from a treasured family recipe? Tender layers of lasagna noodles? A rich ragu of vegetables? Many people have a favorite recipe that is completely unique and special to them.

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Lasagna is enjoyed all over the world and what better way to celebrate that fact than to devote an entire day to celebrating this layered delight. Fun fact: The word “lasagna” or “lasana” originated in reference to the actual pot in which the dish was cooked in, rather than the food itself.

It is important to note that lasagna’s origins have been disputed between Greek, Italian and English sources. Some of the earliest lasagna or “laganon” makers, were ancient Greeks. “Laganon” was a flat, wheat flour based, pasta-like product. Research states that it was closer to an unleavened bread compared to the cooked, flexible pasta noodles we know today. Preparations used to include: accompanying with oil or legumes (ex: chickpeas), frying or cooked in broth.

Today’s lasagna noodles are typically made from durum wheat flour, water and salt. Lasagna noodles can be either rippled or flat. In Italy, lasagna differs depending on the region you are from. Preparation of the pasta dish can be made with a thick ragu or creamy béchamel sauce (or both), various cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella, parmigian0 reggiano), various vegetables as well as ground meats and sausages.

Oftentimes lasagna is not highlighted as a “healthy” meal option, but it’s all in how you make it. There are many variations of lasagna and we wanted to offer some tips to  make your favorite lasagna dish a little more nutritious:

  • Try using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef
  • Try a whole wheat noodle instead of the traditional durum wheat
  • Add more fresh or frozen vegetables to every layer
  • Use part-skim cheeses (ricotta or mozzarella)
  • Try low sodium tomato sauce (or homemade)

Vegan, vegetarian or just dairy free? No problem! There are plenty of lasagna recipes that are completely plant-based.

  • Substitute mozzarella, ricotta or parmesan cheese for vegan (Daiya), cashew or tofu-based substitutes
  • Try a vegetable or lentil-based ragu

Gluten free? There are options as well:

  • Try a gluten-free pasta
  • Instead of pasta, use sweet potatoes, zucchini or eggplant as your “pasta” to create the layered effect

Note: lots of these ingredients are in season right now – check out your local Farmer’s Market for the freshest ingredients!

 

Layered Zucchini Lasagna

Recipe by Wendy Lopez, MS, RD

Ingredients

  • 5 medium-sized zucchinis
  • 1½ cups tomato sauce
  • ½ cup light ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ medium red onion, sliced in rounds
  • Optional: black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Chop both ends off of each zucchini.
  • Slice each zucchini length-wise into ⅕-inch slices, about 4 to 5 slices per zucchini.
  • In a baking dish, assemble the first layer of zucchini slices. Place four to five zucchini slices, tightly aligned, as your base.
  • Spread ½ cup tomato sauce over first layer of zucchini slices. Add ⅓ of total ricotta and mozzarella over sauce. Top with 4 to 6 slices of red onion.
  • Repeat the layer — zucchini slices, sauce, cheese, onion — a second time.
  • Repeat the layer a third time.
  • Top with the remaining zucchini slices. Lightly spread what’s left of the tomato sauce and cheese, and finish off with grounded black pepper, if using.
  • Bake at 400°F for 60 to 70 minutes. Serves 4.

 

Thanks to the great planning of our CPI Chair and Chair-Elect Nancy Ryan and Cheryl Robaczynski, committee members, and our EOM Barbara Bush for another successful annual meeting.   For our members and other health professionals that were unable to attend, here are a few highlights:

  • Kate Scarlata, RDN, our morning speaker, gave a comprehensive review of gastrointestinal health, the gut microbiome, FODMAP diet regimens for those that suffer with functional gut disorders and much more.  Kate referenced Shopwell.com as one of her favorite apps for nutrition ingredient information on hundreds of products – check it out.  Kate’s website KATESCARLATA.COM is a great resource with many free downloads.
  • Stuart Weinzimer, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine shared recent advances on the “artificial pancreas” – an automated insulin delivery system for the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes.  Dr. Weinzimer shared the progress in the clinical trials and sees new products being available in the near future.
  • CT Spring Mtg 2016

    Jane Kerstetter, PhD

    Jane Kerstetter, PhD, Marissa Garcia, MS,RD,CD-N and Tania Huedo-Medina, PhD, University of Connecticut Department of Allied Health Sciences reviewed evidence from studies supporting the efficacy of the Mediterranean diet.  Dr. Kerstetter was also honored at the end of the meeting on her retirement.

  • The meeting also included our annual awards, poster sessions,  exhibits and fun networking  opportunities.

Daisy Saltort was also recognized as a 50 Year Member.   Daisy is still working fulltime and should be an inspiration to us all!50 yr member

 

 

By Jillian O’Neil, Dietetic Intern at the University of Saint Joseph

Doug Rauch, an extraordinary innovator and former president at Trader Joes, was the keynote speaker from the opening session in Nashville at FNCE 2015. He inspired the audience by sharing his innovative ways to help our community in the fight against hunger. His presentation “implemented new strategies to create a culture of innovation in regards to hunger issues, developed a power brand in a competitive marketplace, and leads with a purpose in battling the hunger crisis.”

photo waste

Wasting food: This concept is absolutely astonishing. One interesting picture, that he shared, stands strong in my mind. A picture taken after the harvest has already been picked – mounds of perfectly good, nutritious food thrown into a “waste” pile or left to rot in the ground. Think of lettuce in a store, it’s perfectly packaged into a little, plastic clamshell. It certainly didn’t grow that perfectly. Thus, the reminder of the plant or the ones that “didn’t fit the criteria” are completely wasted.

Throughout his presentation, he specifically wanted to clarify that we are referring to wasted food. Food waste comes from leftover foods, food scraps on your plate, etc. In opposition, wasted food is perfectly good food that might not be “up to standards” by the time it reaches the grocery store. Thus, the vendors bring their trucks directly to the store rather than letting them sit in a truck for an extra week before being delivered to the grocery stores.

expired milk

Another major concern? Expiration dates. The truth is that expiration dates are not federally regulated except for infant formulas. The dates – “sell by, best by, use by, or enjoy by” – are not food safety foods. As long as the food is stored properly, then the date actually gives you a conservative amount of time to utilize it. They don’t expect you to consume the entire product on the same day as the “Sell by” date. Thus, our confusion is leading to billions of pounds of “perfectly healthy, delicious food being tossed out.”

With 1 in 6 Americans hungry, it is clear that excess healthy, wholesome foods being wasted is just not okay – that’s about 49 million hungry Americans – YET – the United States could throw out about 30-40% of food annually. Utilizing the research background, he wanted to offer those of lower economic status the food that everyone should be eating. Doug researched and created a food store concept that would “sell healthy, ready-to-eat meals at fast-food prices, along with a selection of produce and shelf-stable items.” Thus, the birth of a facility he helped create – one of America’s favorite grocery stores – called “Daily Table” in a historic neighborhood of Boston: Dorchester, Massachusetts

daily table logo

 

Well, how does it work? First, they formed focus groups allowing the community to provide import on produce, dairy and other things they would prefer to see. Then, they coordinated with suppliers to collect any sort of food – from canned beans to pasta to proteins. As for nutrition importance, they follow a strict added sugar and sodium standards. While trying their best to “feed the hungry,” they also agree to not feed in an improper nutrition form. They absolutely wouldn’t utilize bread with all white flour and extraordinary sodium levels. That wouldn’t help a family suffering from lack of proper nutrition. They invested in spices and oil to add flavor and nutrients for each dish. The Daily Table Nutrition Task Force that helped us set guidelines for salt, sugar, fat, fiber and other factors. The task force members come from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Medical Center’s Children’s Healthwatch, Children’s Hospital Boston’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Center, Codman Square Health Center, and the Boston Organization of Nutritionists and Dietitians of Color.

daily table shelf

A few products sold on shelves as ready to eat options include: entrees, soups, stews, sandwiches. You can purchase milk and bread daily as well as a variety of vegetables – such as tomatoes, onions, potatoes, salad greens and fruits such as bananas and apples. A sample of product costs includes they following: 29c for 8oz of frozen okra, 39c for 8 ounces of frozen corn, 55c for a can of tuna, 70c for a box of cereal, and  $1.19 for a dozen eggs. The concept really highlights bringing everyday necessities at an affordable cost for everyone – actually everyone. They don’t want to discriminate so anyone can shop here – wealthy or food insecure. Another key concept: tons of items are under or around $1. Aside from general produce, entrees will be prices starting at $1.79 and side dishes only 50c to $1. This concept allows competition between local fast-food companies – hoping to get kids off the street, staying in a healthy/loving community and also improve their current nutrition and health status.

So, who works for the healthiest grocery store in America? Not only has the company provided excellent food to the community, it has also allowed about 28 new full and part time jobs for the community members – such as cooks, drivers, general retail cooks and stocking shelves. 80% of the new hires are from within a 2 mile radius of the store.

In addition to low discounts, the store asks customers to give their phone number and zip code – allowing the company to validate that the predominant number of customers work or live in the area codes which are more economically challenged. The membership is completely free and the purchases are tracked based upon the phone number provided.

The future of Daily Table looks great! They would love to take the Boston concept and apply it to other major cities – such as New York, Detroit, LA or Chicago. They hope to fully tweak and figure out any concerns before opening a new location – in addition to adjusting each facility to the major concerns and needs of each community. How can you help? Formally, the Community Advisory Council allows businesses, health leaders, ambassadors and advisors to come together and work on improving any “tweaks” of the company. Donations to the Daily Table can be given by reaching out to their contact information listed on the company website or emailing info@dailytable.org

The Daily Table ~ 450 Washington Street ~ Dorchester, Massachusetts

 

 

 

 

By Kristin Tallodi dietetic intern at the University of Saint Joseph

 

We all know that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, however how many of us dietetic interns dash out the door without grabbing something to eat? We know it’s important not to run out on an empty stomach and yet some of us might be guilty. There are many benefits to eating breakfast and one of them is to jump start your metabolism. Breakfast literally “breaks the fast” and starts your day with the energy and vitality you need to get through the long internship hours. Your body is like a car and it needs fuel to run especially your brain. You cannot be your best and brightest with an empty, growling stomach. When your body is low on energy you will not be able to concentrate, and easy tasks will become hard. This is not a good impression to make on your preceptors. You want to give your internship your full attention.

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The biggest excuse many of us give is that there is not enough time. We spend a tremendous amount of time at our rotations, driving, studying, and working on projects. The last thing on our minds sometimes is food. A great strategy I’ve kept from my body building years is to prep my food for a few days so I can grab and go. On Sundays I plan what I will eat for the week and cook in bulk. Some of the things I cook for the week include egg white bites, hard boiled eggs, and protein muffins. Another great strategy is to slow cook a big pot of steal cut oats with sliced apples and cinnamon the night before or to make overnight oats by soaking old fashioned oats in yogurt, almond milk, and fruit. Another excuse some people use to not eat breakfast is they do not like to cook. If cooking is not your thing then there are plenty of grab and go options like greek yogurt and a piece of fruit, a bowl of whole grain cereal and skim milk, whole grain waffles topped with nut butter and sliced banana, instant oatmeal with raisins and walnuts, or a Kind bar. Smoothies also take minimal prep and can be easily customized depending on your taste.

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Maybe you are good about getting up early and making breakfast but are fresh out of ideas. One of my favorite things to make is a protein pancake. In a magic bullet I mix up about 3-4 egg whites, 1/2c dry oatmeal, ½ scoop of protein powder and a sprinkle of cinnamon and I cook like a pancake in a skillet. I top it with almond butter and microwaved frozen berries. You can use the same recipe and cook it in a large mug sprayed with non-stick spray in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or bake in the oven in a small loaf pan at 350F for about 20 minutes. Another recipe I like to cook in large batches and eat throughout the week is egg white bites. I pour liquid egg whites into a cupcake pan sprayed with non-stick spray and add spinach or bell peppers then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 350F oven for about 20 minutes. You can even use whole eggs instead of egg whites, and add tomato and basil for a different flavor. Another quick idea is to fry up an egg and put it on a toasted English muffin with tomato and avocado.

So you can see the options are endless when it comes to breakfast. The trick is to do a little preparing beforehand so you can start your day off right.  I’ve given many quick options as well as some of my favorite breakfast recipes. Another option might be to eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. You really can eat anything for breakfast as long as you don’t skip it.

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African American mother helping daughter pack for college

Everyone has heard of the Freshman 15, but what about the Empty-nester 15?

Every fall, many parents become empty-nesters because their last child is off to college.  Many of those same parents are concerned about their son or daughter gaining weight, since many freshman typically gain weight during their first year away at school.   Parents are always quick to give advice, but should also be concerned about their own new change in schedules.

The freshman weight gain is often due to being overwhelmed with the many food choices in their meal plans.  Many of those choices are unlimited and are often high-fat, high-calorie and lacking nutritional value.  Add to this a change in exercise habits (especially if they were active in sports in high school) and social activities that now revolve around food plus alcohol.   Freshman also tend to skip breakfast in order to gain a few more hours of sleep, which may result in eating more throughout the day.

Empty-nesters may find themselves in the same situation with a change in routine resulting in a similar weight gain.    Like their freshman son or daughter, the empty-nester parent is now free to socialize more often with tempting lunches and dinners, a change in activity (no longer running to school and sporting events), or as they stay at home more often, fall into the snacking habit.  Fall time alone creates many social events such as fall food festivals, tail gaiting parties, and musical venues.

First year college students need to be conscious of their food choices at all times, even at the salad bar where calories can quickly add up.  If the student has a refrigerator in their room, suggest some quick breakfast items such as yogurt, nut butters, hummus, juice and “juice-pack-like” packaged milk (which only needs refrigerated after opening).  Cereal and crackers can easily be kept on a shelf.  These foods come in handy when your student needs that extra sleep in the morning.    Encourage your student not to use snacking as a way to stay awake as afterhours snacks can add up significantly in calories.  Many meal plans offer healthful choices, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) advice links, and some colleges have RDNs working on campus to provide guidance.

Remind your student to make an attempt to get out of the dorm, get some daily exercise, and of course control their alcohol intake.

For you empty-nesters, some of the advice you give to your freshman can also apply to you as well.  Be conscious of your food choices as you eat out more often and take the free time to start a new activity such as but not limited to snowshoeing or hiking, tennis, and bicycling.

outdoor sports 1    outdoor sports2  outdoor sports 4

What Is a Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered?

A Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered (NDTR) is a food and nutrition practitioner, often working in conjunction with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, who has met the minimum academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credential “NDTR.” Like RDNs, NDTRs must complete professional educational requirements to maintain their registration.

In recognition for all they do to support Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and the field of dietetics, the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has proclaimed June 22, 2015 as “NDTR Appreciation Day,” and called upon its members to recognize their NDTR colleagues through social media using the hashtag @EatRightCT #NDTRAppreciationDay, holding in-office celebrations or doing other special activities to express gratitude.

Here are some testimonials from CT Academy members and NDTR employers about why they value their NDTR:

  • “It is the unity of the RD and NDTR that complete the nutrition team, to provide optimal patient care. They excel at nutrition educations. They assist workflow by independently managing the lower risk patients on the units. They have a strong understanding of the workflow in the foodservice setting/kitchen and throughout the Food and Nutrition Department. The clinical NDTRs at Hartford Hospital are leaders in the field and they excel every day. They pick right up where the RD leaves off. I feel strongly that NDTRs receive increased recognition. These are hard-working, intelligent nutrition professionals that improve nutritional status of the population and community every day.” — Diane Avino, MS, RDN, CD-N, Food and Nutrition Services at Hartford Hospital
  • “My NDTR is key player and a tremendous asset to the nutrition team. Her responsibilities’ are to oversee the daily operations of the Dietary office and assigned Performance Improvement projects. With her knowledge of computers and her great organization skills she has no difficulty managing the Diet office. She has gone above and beyond her assigned job duties and has taken the initiative to audit all diet entries to ensure they are entered correctly in our computer system by the diet clerks, and also reviews production sheets and breakdown menus for any discrepancies to help with resident in receiving appropriated menu items and promote patient satisfaction.” — Joe Russo RD,CD-N Clinical Manager, Dining Services
  • “Our NDTR is fantastic! She is the glue that keeps our practice running smoothly! She is such an integral part of our team and always willing to do whatever necessary to assist in our nutrition practice mission,” — Renee Bordeaux RD, CDN, CPT
  • “Having a DTR in our private practice has added a lot of value to the business. Our NDTR helps the business flow by supporting the RDN’s and eliminating the need for an administrative person because she can do both admin and nutrition related tasks. I think she especially excels at patient interaction and playing an overall supportive roll in the nutrition practice.” — Jacqui Campbell MS, RD, CDN
  • “I am a Speech Language Pathologist who works closely with NDTRs to provide optimal care to our many residents with dysphagia here at the Hebrew Home and Hospital. Residents in need of my services are frequently identified by the NDTR. They often are the first professional to identify poor intake, weight loss and/or nutritional deficits that commonly are due to or coexist with dysphagia. Early identification and treatment is important in achieving positive nutritional outcomes and reducing risk of developing aspiration pneumonia. NDTRs play a very valuable role in the care of our residents with dysphagia improving their nutritional status and quality of life. I am glad that they are part of our team of professionals.” — Lisa Mowry, M.A., CCC/SLP Speech-Language Pathologist

    Why do you value your NDTR? Show your appreciation in the comments section below, and be sure to recognize them on Facebook, Twitter or InstaNDTRcommitteegram on Monday, June 22!

CT Academy’s NDTR Committee