Nutrition Topic of the Month: Heart Health

FEBRUARY. February brings Valentine's day, and also marks American heart month.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Genetics can't be modified but the good new is, you can significant reduce your risk of developing heart disease by practicing a healthier lifestyle. 

  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Control cholesterol
  • Control blood pressure 
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Increase physical activity 
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Limited saturate fat intake
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Quit smoking

It's a great time for your and your loved ones to commit to a healthier lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health! 

For more information on heart disease, visit the American Heart Association at, or talk to your doctor or dietitian today.  Don't wait!


Recipe of the Month: Split Pea & Ham Soup (in the crockpot)

FEBRUARY. Since we have six more weeks of winter, I figured I'd post another one of my favorite soup recipes--split pea & ham soup in the crockpot! Eating soup is a great way to increase your vegetable, fiber and protein intake. Be sure to select nutrient-dense soups with a variety of ingredients from all food groups. 

No time to cook is never a good excuse for not eating healthy food. Using a crockpot allows you to prep your meal before work (you can even prep the night before and just add the ingredients to the pot the next morning), and come home to a completed dinner after work! 

1 lb dry split peas
3 oz ham steak, diced (I used honey flavor)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
32 oz low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water

Place all ingredients into crock pot.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, OR cook on high for 6 hours. 
Remove bay leaves and serve! SO EASY!

Nutrient analysis for 1 cup of soup (~8oz)
Calories: 200
Total fat: 4g
Saturated fat: 2g
Protein: 12g
Total Carbohydrate: 28g
Cholesterol: 9mg
Sodium: 644mg (this is not a low-sodium food)
Fiber: 5g


Nutrition Topic of the Month: Body Mass Index (BMI)


JANUARY. "New year, new me!" It's time to make those New Year's resolutions again, and hope they last beyond March. Resolutions range from saving money, to quitting smoking, to spending more time with family and of course losing weight.  Weight loss is not a quick fix, nor is it one demential--it's not just a 'cleanse', it's not just a fad diet, it's not just a fad workout.  To lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and improve your overall health and wellness, a lifestyle change is essential. Remember, don't wait for a new year to make a change--every day is a new day. 

Being overweight or obese greatly increases your risk for health complications such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea and cancer. 

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight, which can help determine overweight and obesity status.  To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared.  The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for developing health complications such as the ones listed above. 

BMI Chart
18.5–24.9: normal weight
25.0–29.9: overweight
30.0–39.9: obese
40.0 and above: extreme obesity

Know your BMI and know your risk for developing health complications. 

Weight management tips:
Eat to fuel your body
Don't skip meals
Know correct portion size
Drink calorie-free beverages
Cut back on sugar
Limit sedentary time
Include regular physical activity

If you are overweight or obese and need assistance with weight management and lifestyle change, ask your doctor or registered dietitian for more information today. Don't wait!





Recipe of the Month: Mini Stuffed Mushrooms with Chicken Sausage

JANUARY. I made these mini stuffed mushrooms with chicken sausage, as an appetizer for our Christmas eve party, and they were a huge hit! I posted a picture on social media and got a lot of inquiries, so I decided to feature the recipe as my recipe of the month.  Chicken sausage is a great alternative to tradational high-fat, high-calorie pork sausage. Chicken is a leaner meat, but when mixed with other ingredients to make sausage, it becomes packed with savory flavors and aromas and makes for a great substitution. The mushrooms were absolutely delicious and my family did not even know the difference! 

Serving size: 2 mushrooms, makes 12 servings

24 mini white mushrooms
6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
4 tablespoons marsala wine
1 lb sweet Italian chicken sausage, casings removed and crumbled
5 scallions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup panko bread crumbs
6 oz mascarpone cheese, OR 6 oz low-fat ricotta cheese if lower fat-content is desired
Grated parmesan cheese to taste
Salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Remove stems from mushrooms and finely chop them--set aside. 
  • Place mushroom caps in a bowl, add in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 4 tablespoons of marsala wine, mix together--set aside.
  • In a skillet over medium flame, heat the other 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the crumbled sausage--stir frequently and cook until golden brown (10-12 min). Add the chopped mushroom stems, scallions, garlic and cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko bread crumbs and mascarpone cheese OR  low-fat ricotta cheese and stir until even distributed and melted.  Add grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of sausage mixture.
  • Place stuffed mushroom caps on a large baking dish.
  • Bake for 40-50min (until stuffing appears golden brown and crusty).

    Nutrient Analysis (for 2 mushrooms with low-fat ricotta cheese)
    Calories: 245
    Total fat: 10g
    Saturated fat: 2g
    Protein: 20g
    Total Carbohydrate: 7g
    Cholesterol: 90mg
    Sodium: 430mg
    Fiber: 1g



Nutrition Topic of the Month: Vitamin D

DECEMBER. Vitamin D, aka "the sunshine vitamin" is produced naturally by our skin when exposed to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B rays (UVB).  When exposed to UVB rays, human skin has the capability of producing up to 90% of our needed vitamin D by converting cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D3.

  • Functions of vitamin D include promoting calcium absorption and maintaining calcium levels, maintaining phosphate levels, promoting bone and cell growth, and reducing inflammation in our bodies.
  • An estimated 1 billion people world-wide suffer from vitamin D deficiency which can lead to osteopenia, osteoporosis, rickets, and increased risk for bone fractures. 
  • Factors that contribute to vitamin D deficiency include, limited time spent outside in the natural sunlight (ESPECIALLY IN THE WINTER MONTHS), wearing sunscreen, having dark pigmented skin and people who suffer from fat malabsorption (as vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin).  
  • Most foods are poor sources of vitamin D, unless they are fortified; supplementation is typically needed to achieve the recommended daily allowance.
  • Are your at risk for vitamin D deficiency?
    Know your vitamin D levels, know your risk factors, know what foods are good sources of vitamin D, and know which supplements are best.
  • Talk to your doctor or dietitian for more information about vitamin D deficiency.   

Physical Activity of the Month: Alpine Skiing

DECEMBER. You may think the December weather is frightful, but hitting the slopes can make it that much more delightful.  Alpine skiing can burn approximately 400-500 calories per hour and snowboarding is close behind at about 350-450 calories per hour.  

If the downhill slopes are not your preference, try cross-country skiing. At a vigorous pace, cross-country skiing can burn up to 600 calories per hour!

No matter your choice, get outside and breathe in that crisp, cold, refreshing air!

Recipe of the Month: White Bean and Barley Soup

DECEMBER. Shorter days, longer nights, colder temperatures. No better way to warm your body and soul than by lying under a fluffy blanket, and eating a hot bowl of soup.  This soup is so nutritious, it may be enjoyed as a small appetizer or as a meal in itself--it's also vegetarian appropriate!    

Makes 8-10 Servings 

2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 large fennel bulb, cored and chopped 
1 large onion, chopped 
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 teaspoon basil 
1 can (15oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 
3 plum tomatoes, chopped 
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (you may use 8 cups broth if you prefer a more liquid-consistency soup). 
1 lb uncooked barley 
6 cups baby spinach 
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, tomatoes and basil, stir frequently, until tender/lightly brown (6-8 minutes). 

2. Mash 1/2 cup of the beans. Stir in the mashed and whole beans, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender (35-40 minutes). Stir in spinach salt and pepper, and cook until wilted (1-2 minutes). 

3. Serve in 6oz soup bowls. *For non-vegetarians, add grated parmesan cheese if desired! 

Nutrient Analysis per 6oz serving
Total Calories: 310
Total Fat: 6g
Protein: 15g
Total Carbohydrate: 50g
Sodium: 460mg
Cholesterol: 0mg
Fiber: 13g

Nutrition Topic of the Month: Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Month.
Are you at risk? Do you know your numbers?

  • Risk Factors- age, race, family history, gender, blood pressure, smoking, physical activity and weight (some risk factors are modifiable, some are not).
  • A1C Test- measures your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months. Diabetes is diagnosed at an A1C of greater than or equal to 6.5%
  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test- this test is performed first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.  Diabetes is diagnosed at fasting blood glucose of greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl. 
  • Ask your doctor or log onto to learn more.

Physical Activity of the Month: Raking Leaves

NOVEMBER. The last month of autumn--get outside--enjoy the crisp air and what's left of the fall foliage!

  • If you own a home and there is yard work to be done, put down the leaf blower and pick up a rake. Raking leaves can burn 300-450 calories per hour!
  • Don't have a yard? Go for a hike! Depending on body weight, intensity and metabolism, hiking can burn up 400-500 calories per hour! The perks? You can enjoy the autumn views from the top!

Recipe of the Month: Slow Cooked Turkey Chili

NOVEMBER.  No better way to welcome the cold weather than a hearty, warm meal without the excessive calories.  Fuel your body with an abundance of lean protein, fiber, iron & other nutrients, while satisfying your craving for a savory meal!  

Makes 6 servings
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
2 lbs lean ground turkey
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (14oz) tomato sauce
2 cans kidney beans, drained & rinsed
*Spice it up!* Add 1/2 cup chopped jalapeños if you prefer to spice things up!

1. Heat oil in a frying pan, use medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and salt. Cook until soft, 8-10 minutes. Then add garlic, chili powder and cumin. Stir and cook for 1 minute. 
2. Add ground turkey (be sure meat is broken down into mall pieces), cook until brown, 7-10 minutes. 
3. Transfer hot ingredients into the slow cooker/crockpot, add diced tomatoes and kidney beans, stir to combine.  Cook for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. Stir in jalapeños at the end if you wish!
*Serve in soup bowl with saltine crackers--add low fat shredded cheddar cheese if desired!
*Makes 6 servings.

Nutrient Info: per 6oz serving
Calories: 215
Total fat: 7g
Saturated fat: 2g
Protein: 21g
Carbohydrates: 19g
Sodium: 585mg
Cholesterol: 41mg
Fiber: 7g