Monthly Archives: January 2013

Walnuts in a Nutshell


Looking to incorporate a healthy snack or a new source of healthy fats into your diet? Why not add walnuts to your next grocery list.  A serving of walnuts (1 ounce, or about 14 halves) are rich in antioxidants and are an excellent source of ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in plant sources.  In fact, they are the only nut that contain omega-3s!  Walnuts are healthy for your heart and have anti-inflammatory benefits (hello, happy joints and skin!).  Plus, they provide a concentrated source of energy for anyone who is physically active.

1 oz walnuts provide:

  • 185 calories
  • 18.9 g fat
  • 1.7 g saturated fat
  • 13.4 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 2.5 g monounsaturated fat
  • 125 mg potassium
  • 3.9 g carbohydrate
  • 1.9 g fiber
  • 4.3 g protein
  • vitamins & minerals such as vitamin B-6, vitamin E, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, thiamin, and zinc

Vegetarian Walnut Burgers

  • 1 1/3 cup shelled walnuts
  • 4 slices of whole wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 oz Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • a handful of chives

Grind the walnuts in a food processor. Add the bread and process again. Add the remaining ingredients and process to form a firm mixture. Shape into 1/2-inch patties. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until crisp, then serve.

(Recipe from The Top 100 Fitness Foods by Sarah Owen, 2009)

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Obama’s 3000+ Calorie Inaugural Luncheon

For those guests attending the 57th Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies today, January 21st, 2013, I might recommend skipping breakfast…and dinner. Why? Because the inaugural luncheon’s 3 courses add up to a whopping 3027 calories (and that doesn’t include the wine).  Most adults’ calorie needs are closer to 2000 calories, so a 3027 calorie lunch definitely provides more than enough calories for the entire day.

I am all for indulging yourself on certain special days such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, etc… and I suppose the 57th Presidential Inauguration falls into the “special event” category, so I’ll give a little leeway to those attending the luncheon. Heck, if I was invited, I’d try a little bit of everything.  It sounds pretty good, especially the hickory grilled bison in the second course. Yum!

You can find the menu items and even the recipes at the links below, if you feel like re-creating the luncheon for your family and friends.  Just be aware the calorie counts are a little crazy!!



Per Serving: Calories 783, Fat 45.7g, Saturated Fat 16g, Cholesterol 247 mg, Sodium 1819 mg, Carbohydrates 55g, Dietary Fiber 7.5g, Sugar 14g, Protein 29g

Per Serving: Calories 1184, Fat 34.6g, Saturated Fat 16g, Cholesterol 177mg, Sodium 7445mg, Carbohydrates, 149g, Dietary Fiber 16.7, Sugar 97.2g, Protein 51g

Per Serving: Calories 1060, Fat 64.4g, Saturated Fat 39g, Cholesterol 331mg, Sodium 488mg, Carbohydrates, 108.5g, Dietary Fiber 1.7g, Sugar 75g, Protein 14g


Calories 3027, Fat 145 g, Saturated Fat 71g, Sodium 9752 mg, Total Carbs 312.5g, Sugar 186.2g, Fiber 25.9g, Protein 94g

All this means that the lunch has around 43% calories from fat (21% calories from saturated fat!!), 41% from carbohydrates, and 12% from protein. Healthy recommendations are closer to 45-60% from carbohydrates, under 30% from fat, and 15-20% from protein. Additionally, the sodium content of the luncheon is close to 406% of recommended daily sodium intake! At least the lunch has fiber – 25.9g is within the healthy range for adults (around 25-35 g/day).

It is surprising that the first lady, Michelle Obama, through all her childhood obesity prevention and her Let’s Move campaign, didn’t take the inaugural luncheon as an opportunity to promote healthy eating.  “It was definitely a missed opportunity for nutrition education, for example, to offer lightened-up recipe alternatives (even if just on the website),” says Rachel Berman, RD, CSR, CDN who compiled the nutrition data for this year’s inaugural luncheon.  Fighting childhood obesity is an important and noble cause, but lets not forget that as adults we have the responsibility to be good examples for kids, and that includes choosing to eat healthy.  Especially when there is such media attention surrounding this national event.

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Rehabilitation Hospitals

This past week I have been interning at Health South, a rehabilitation hospital here in town. Health South not only operates in West Virginia; it also has rehabilitation hospitals, outpatient rehabilitation satellite clinics, and home care in 27 states as well as Puerto Rico.

What makes a rehabilitation hospital different from a “normal” hospital?  Rehab hospitals provide care for patients who are ready to be discharged from the hospital, but are not yet able to function safely at home.  Many patients leave their stay at the hospital to return to a skilled nursing facility or nursing home, but rehab hospitals are for those that have the goal of returning to a certain level of independence at home.  Rehab hospitals assist in bridging that gap.

A patient’s progress at a rehab hospital is measured by a FIM (Functional Independence Measure) which is a scale that measures physical and cognitive disability.  The scale is made up of 18 components which are ranked from a scale of 1 to 7.  A score of 1 means that the patient contributes to <25% of the task or is unable to contribute (total dependence), and a score of 7 represents total independence. Scores can then range from 18 to 126, with the higher number denoting a higher level of physical and cognitive independence.  The FIM scale includes assessing self-care (eating, grooming, bathing/showering, dressing upper body, dressing lower body, and using the toilet) as well as mobility (transfers from bed to chair/wheelchair/toilet, stairs, walking/using a wheelchair), sphincters (bowel and bladder management), communication (expression and comprehension), and cognition (problem-solving and memory).

Who would be a good patient for a rehab facility? According to Health South’s website, “Anyone who is limited functionally from an injury or illness can benefit from rehabilitation. As a next step in the continuity of care, rehabilitation hospitals restore function and strength so patients can return to their highest level of independence.”  This could be someone who has a traumatic brain injury from a motor vehicle accident, recovering from a stroke/CVA (cerebrovascular accident), a recent amputation, spinal cord injury, pulmonary issue (COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or someone recovering from an accident such as a bad fall.

What I’ve noticed in the past week is that you see a lot less tube feedings and parenteral nutrition in rehab hospitals. That is not to say that patients have no troubles with eating, however! Many patients have chewing and swallowing difficulties due to esophageal strictures, dysphagia from a recent stroke, and may have no teeth or use full/partial dentures.  I was able to be in the room and witness 2 barium swallow tests that assessed the patients’ level of swallowing and chewing function in front of an x-ray.  Thin liquids, nectar-thickened, and other foods were tested to see what patients are able to safely swallow.  The National Dysphagia Diets (NDD) have three levels, all of which I have seen on diet orders at the rehab facility:

  • NDD Level 1: Dysphagia-Pureed (homogenous, very cohesive, pudding-like, requiring very little chewing ability).
  • NDD Level 2: Dysphagia-Mechanical Altered (cohesive, moist, semisolid foods, requiring some chewing).
  • NDD Level 3: Dysphagia-Advanced (soft foods that require more chewing ability).
  • Regular (all foods allowed).

A dietitian at a rehabilitation hospital will assess and evaluate patients when a physician orders a diet consult, or when the patient triggers for another reason. General questions to ask the patient during the assessment include questions about the patient’s appetite, bowel function, any chewing/swallowing difficulties, changes in weight and other questions that apply to the individual patient.  There may be recommendations for a diet change, the addition of an evening snack, or the addition of a nutrition supplement such as Glucerna or Ensure to promote weight gain, weight maintenance, or protein intake.

In addition to dietitians, rehab hospitals also employ a multitude of different health professionals, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, x-ray technicians, doctors, nurses, case managers, and pharmacists.  There really is a multitude of different professions working together to help patients regain their strength, endurance, and independence.

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Test Tube Meat…yay or nay?


Is your new years’ resolution to earn a million dollars? If so, PETA may have the answer for you. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” has offered a $1 million dollar reward for the first laboratory to produce “in vitro” chicken meat made from chicken cells. How does this work? It is very similar to how we grow an organ for human transplantation. Stem cells from an adult animal are placed into a 3-D supportive scaffolding structure in a medium which would allow the cells to grow and reproduce. When fully developed, these cells will have grown into a product that mimics animal flesh that can be cooked and eaten.

PETA states that the chicken meat product must have the same taste and texture of “real” chicken, and will be judged via a taste test from meat-eaters and non-meat eaters alike. The million dollar prize also comes with the stipulation that the meat product will be produced in large enough quantities to be sold in at least 10 US states at a competitive price.

Why would an organization like PETA support the research for test-tube meat? According to PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, it all comes down to reducing animal suffering. “Americans eat 1 million chickens an hour. [In vitro meat] is both practical and pragmatic. We can’t afford to look at this from a purist’s standpoint. We need to reduce animal suffering now.”

Not only would large-scale production of in-vitro meat decrease animal suffering, it would also benefit the environment. There would be less greenhouse gas emissions caused by livestock digestion (especially in cattle). Less freshwater would be wasted from meat processing. In addition, since in-vitro meat could be produced in an urban area closest to the greatest consumer demands, transportation costs and environmental impact would be reduced. And all that corn, soy, and feed that chicken consume? These crops could be used for human consumption either here in America or overseas to help fight hunger in third world countries.

I think test-tube/cultured/in-vitro chicken is a great idea with many possible benefits. First, it has the possibility of being cheaper for consumers than buying traditional chicken. Secondly (and most exciting of all), when we are creating our own chicken meat, we could modify it to be more nutritious. Says Nicholas Genovese, PhD, researcher at the U of Missouri’s division of animal sciences, “In vitro, culture methods may be optimized to improve ratios of poly-unsaturated fats to saturated fats, thereby generating a healthier dietary protein source.” Also, “by engineering tissues on plant or fungus-based scaffolds, cultured meat technology opens the possibility to produce a meat produce rich in dietary fiber.”

I just recently over Christmas break watched the film documentary Food, Inc which has made me more aware of where my meat (especially chicken) comes from. The film covers the food industry in America today, at one point highlighting the shocking and very real process of how our chickens make it from the farm to our plate. After watching that film, I personally think that in-vitro chicken could be a safe and healthy alternative to traditional chicken meat.

Source: Food & Nutrition magazine, Jan/Feb 2013 issue “Exploring the Global ‘Cultured Meat’ Effort

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Eggs-cellent Eggs!

January is a popular time for people to be setting new and healthy eating habits for the new year. It is also National Egg Month, so what better time than now to make an effort to include more eggs into your diet!

3 Reasons Eggs are Excellent:


1. Nutritious

One large egg contains just 70 calories and 6.2 g of complete protein, which means it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids needed by the human body. Eggs are also is a good source of vitamin D, which supports strong bones. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the nutrients found in one large egg:

  • 70 calories
  • 5 g of fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 1.0 g polyunsaturated fat, 2.0 g monounsaturated fat)
  • 185 mg cholesterol
  • 70 mg sodium
  • 70 mg potassium
  • 6.2 g protein
  • 6% Vitamin A
  • 8% Vitamin B-12
  • 4% Vitamin B-6
  • 10% Vitamin D
  • 2% Calcium
  • 6% Folate
  • 4% Iron
  • 10% Phosphorus
  • 10% Riboflavin
  • 4% Zinc

2. Cheap

As a broke college student, I can appreciate the fact that eating healthy can be very inexpensive. Eggs are a great way to get the protein in my diet that I need, without breaking my wallet.  A dozen eggs can be found most grocery stores for around $2, which makes each egg cost around 17 cents each– not bad! Definitely cheaper than a bag of chips or a package of cookies.

3. Versatile

Eggs can be scrambled, over-easy, poached, sunny-side up, or fried. You can put them in breakfast burritos, throw a sliced hard-boiled egg on a salad or sandwich,  make a quiche, egg salad sandwich, or deviled egg appetizer. And who doesn’t love a good omelet or frittata? Make eggs your friend for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

5 Facts About Eggs:

1. Recommendations for Egg Storage:

  • Eggs can be safely stored in the fridge for 2-4 weeks and in the freezer for up to 1 year.
  • Raw yolks/whites can be stored in the fridge for 2-4 days and in the freezer (at 0 degrees F) for 1 year.
  • Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the fridge for 1 week, but are not recommended to be frozen.
  • Liquid eggs or egg substitutes can be stored in the fridge for 10 days if unopened, 3 days if opened, and stored in the freezer for up to 1 year if unopened.

2.  Casseroles and dishes containing eggs should be cooked to an internal temperature fo 160 degrees F as measured by a food thermometer

3. Egg cartons with the USDA grade shield on them must supply the “pack date” which is the date the eggs were washed, graded, and packed in a carton.  The date is a 3-digit number based on the Julian dates. This means that January 1st is denoated as 001 and December 31st is 365.

4. Eggs are not federally required to have an expiration or “sell-by” date on them, however some states require it.  Eggs should be safe to use for 3-5 weeks after purchase, even if it passes the printed expiration date.

5. Recommendations regarding eggs. One egg contains 185 mg of cholesterol, and the recommendation for those with normal LDL cholesterol levels is to consume <300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day.  People who have high LDL cholesterol levels or are taking cholesterol-lowering medications should aim for <200 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. It is not necessary to avoid eggs in order to eat heart-healthy.  An egg a day can fit into the average person’s healthy diet, as long as they aren’t filling the rest of their diet with other cholesterol-laden foods such as pork, steak, shrimp, butter, and other animal products.  If you don’t want to give up your egg-a-day routine for breakfast, make an effort to include plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains in your lunch and dinner.  On the other hand, if you don’t want to give up your pork-chop-a-day routine for dinner, then maybe cutting back to just a few eggs a week might be a smart idea. It’s all about balance. Use your daily 300-mg of dietary cholesterol budget with care.

6. Egg substitutes are a great way to add some more volume to your omelets, without going overboard on your eggs. If you’re trying to eat heart-healthy, try using 1 whole egg and 2 servings of egg whites/egg substitutes in your omelet instead of 3 whole eggs.  Liquid egg whites and Egg Beaters (made from egg whites, with added flavor and yellow color to resemble liquid whole eggs) can be found at any grocery store and have 25 calories per 3 tablespoons, 75 mg of sodium, 0 mg of cholesterol, and 5 g of protein.

Interested in more information? has dozens of recipes as well as fun facts about eggs.   University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Extension has great information about how to cook your eggs thoroughly and safely so you can avoid the risk of salmonella (including everybody’s favorite, “no eating raw cookie dough made with eggs!”).

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