Registered Dietitian: Real Deal?

Happy Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist Day!

That’s a mouthful! It used to be just RD, now it’s RD or RDN. Consumers have always been confused about what exactly an RD is–and then they changed the name and made either one acceptable.

Yes, that’s even more confusing, but as I always say, “They didn’t ask me…”

So because I assume you are still left wondering, my simple message for National Nutrition Month–Week 2 relates to what an “RD” is:

An RD is a college-educated, internship-trained, national exam-certified nutrition expert. While lifestyle coaches are now a dime a dozen, we are the original lifestyle coaches—but as with any profession, the credentials are only the first box to ✅…

You must seek out an experienced, evidence-based RD with integrity who understands and personalizes an approach to match your needs.

In other words: not all RDs are the same.

Here are some additional criteria to look for in an RD:

✅ Experience and specialization in the area you are seeking help
✅ Evidence-based advice (with citations when appropriate)
✅ Emphasis on a sustainable, non-diet lifestyle approach
✅ Compassionate, non-judgmental communications
✅ Humility and a deference to promising research
✅ Employment of a growth mindset (we are all continually learning)
✅ Minimal bias (especially financial gain from products you buy)

Hope that is helpful. As always, I’m here for your questions!

The Best Diet: Low Carb, Mediterranean, or…?

March is National Nutrition Month. However, this year there’s no official theme or message from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In fact, this was intentional to allow “greater flexibility in the promotion of health messages.” Well, as you know, I’m never at a loss for nutrition-related words. So, I will share one simple message about nutrition each week in March. This week’s topic? The best diet for you.

(Note “diet” in this post indicates a “way of eating” and does not mean a restricted-calorie eating plan.)

Searching for “The One and Only” Best Diet

Over the years I’ve actually thought long and hard about my “flexible” nutrition messaging and wondered if “easy, real food” is specific enough to be helpful to you, especially if you’re trying to prevent type 2 diabetes. “Real food” may seem too vague when we could be more specific. But I have never felt more strongly that my main message must remain this broad to be evidence-based and practical…

Because there are many ways to eat for your health. All of them include a variety of real foods. None of them include a plethora of processed foods.

There is no single best diet for health; eat real food.

So, you can stop searching for the one best way for everyone to eat. For the prevention of diabetes, research suggests it is possible to follow any one of these diets and achieve good results:

  • A lower carbohydrate diet
  • A Mediterranean diet
  • The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet
  • A plant-based vegetarian or vegan diet

But of course we all have different health risks, and what works for one person may not be practical or effective for another. Also, these may not be the only options that are effective, but they are the diets with enough evidence so far.

When you consistently make an effort to eat more real foods and minimal processed foods, it leaves room to customize (with your doctor and a registered dietitian, preferably) the best approach for YOUR HEALTH RISK and YOUR LIFE.

Take Action

Give Your Valentine Real-Food Love

Whatever your love language, nothing says love like a steady supply of homemade, real-food meals for your family. It’s the heartfelt gift that keeps on giving–day after day, week after week. In fact, I see it as the ultimate gift that nonverbally communicates your desire to have your loved ones in your life as long as possible! Now that’s comfort food.

That said, what are you cooking for Valentine’s Day? It is tomorrow AND it is a weeknight, so special doesn’t have to mean time consuming. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, silly) and make easy, real food.

Appetizers

Smoked Salmon Cucumber Roses (Diabetes Friendly)

Fast Fresh Salsa (Not exactly a Valentine’s tradition, but hey, it is red and you can make it as hot as you like it!)

Bacon Wrapped, Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates (Fancy, but made with only three ingredients!)

Main Courses

Pan Seared Scallops in Simple White Wine Cream Sauce (Diabetes Friendly)

New Fashioned Meatloaf (For extra credit, I recommend making heart-shaped mini meatloaves, or one large heart-shaped meatloaf on a cookie sheet.)

Instant-Pot Lemon Chicken Piccata (A classic, yet special as is!)

Turkey Taco Boats (I recommend using all red peppers for Valentine’s day, so they kind of look like hearts?!)

Desserts


Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake (Diabetes Friendly)

Flourless Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie (This is my favorite dessert of all time!)

Fresh Strawberry Cream Pie (This one is a little more time-consuming than my usual, but worth the effort and great for non-chocolate lovers.)

Disclosure: I was paid to develop the diabetes-friendly recipes pictured here for OnTrack Diabetes. Check out the Valentine’s Day recipe collection with recipe notes if you’re interested!

Game Day Real Foods for the Win

I may have said this before: I’m a fair-weather football fan. Meaning, I’m only in it for the super bowl, and more honestly, the game day foods. (Well, also the commercials and, this year, the half-time show…love Maroon 5.) You say “football” and I think “yummy dips, finger foods, and chilis”. After all, in my case, it’s only once a year that I’m watching!

But sometimes “game day foods” means “unhealthy storebought, processed and refined foods”–which is a compounded problem if you watch football every week.

So, score bonus points for good health with a real-food plan for your football party! To that end (zone), I’m sharing a variety of game day, real food recipes developed by fellow dietitians.

As you know, nutrition is very individual. So, there’s something here for everyone:

  • traditional to trendy choices,
  • many lower carb options,
  • some dairy free and/or vegan recipes (if that’s your preference).

Fortunately, I don’t have allergies or dietary restrictions, but I do believe everyone should be eating more real foods and fewer processed foods.

So all the recipes included here are:

  • minimally processed,
  • free of refined grains and sugars, and
  • gluten free.

Dips and Spreads

Spinach and Artichoke Dip (Dairy Free) from www.eatreallivewell.com

Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus from www.eatreallivewell.com

Pizza Dip (Vegan Optional) from www.nutritiontofit.com

Japapeno Lime Almond Dip from www.stephanieleenutrition.com

5-Minute Vegan Cheese Sauce (Dairy Free, Nut Free) from www.sinfulnutrition.com

B’s Homemade Guacamole (my recipe)

Easy Pico de Gallo from www.betsyramirez.com

Patriotic 7-Layer Dip Flag (my recipe)  Note: you could make the shape of a football on top with tomatoes and cheese, using the olives as the laces.

Freezer Friendly Classic Buffalo Chicken Dip (my recipe)

3-Ingredient Crackers (Vegan) from www.beekaynutrition.com (No, not a dip but you need something to scoop up all these wonderful dips!)

Easy, Filling Finger Foods

Pimiento Cheese Pepper Poppers from www.holleygrainger.com

Easy Japapeno Poppers (4 Ingredients) (my recipe)

Grilled Chicken Satay with Thai Style Peanut Sauce from www.triadtowellness.com

Potato Satay with Almond Lime Sauce (Vegan) from www.chefcatherinebrown.com

Oven-Fried Chicken Taquitos from www.hungryhobby.net

Harissa Cauliflower Wings (Vegan) from www.karalydon.com Note: these have a little flour in them so aren’t gluten free as written, but you could probably substitute a gluten-free all-purpose flour.

Oven-Fried Chicken Wings (my recipe)

Broccoli Hummus Snack Bites from www.healthy-inspiration.com

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Smoked Paprika from www.amydgorin.com

Chili

And if you really want EASY + YUMMY + FILLING FOR A CROWD, just whip up a batch of B’s “Gonna Get Through This” Chili. I promise it’s in a category all of its own, no matter what spice level you choose!

And as for the game, may the best team win! Whatever that means to you…

What Do You Want for 2019?

Well, have you thought about it?

No, I’m not exactly granting wishes…but I am offering to make your life easier! I want to hear your feedback (via a 2-minute multiple-choice survey) as I set some goals for TheWanderingRD in the new year.

If you’re subscribed to TheWanderingRD, I assume you are here for three reasons:

  • 1) You value your HEALTH,
  • 2) You value EASY REAL FOOD, and
  • 3) You value TheWANDERINGRD.

Thank you! It fulfills me to be able to “use my powers for good” and support you wherever you are in your journey of self-care.

But my simple assumptions are not specific enough to help you best…

So, please do us both a favor?? Take this VERY QUICK (5-question) survey so I can get to know you better! Your opinions will offer invaluable direction!

New year, same sensational you, only better than ever. So, what do you need help with most? How can I make your life easier? Take the survey and email me with any other comments!

Better together.

Plenty of Options: Meal Planning Monday Week 13

Sometimes you just need options. And flexible ones. By now even if you’ve tried some of my recipes, you may have noticed it’s not ideal following someone else’s (my) meal plans!  I actually feel strongly about why you should meal plan for yourself.

Simply put:

You are not me. We are not the same. And that is ok. I don’t provide meal plans for you to mimic week after week. Rather, I hope you look at my meal plans to get recipe ideas and to make real food a priority and a weekly habit. 

This week is a short meal planning week for me because my kids and I are leaving Thursday to visit my sister in D.C. and tour the White House, the Capitol and the FBI building (where she works).

So, instead of showing you what I’m eating (nothing spectacular, mostly leftovers from the weekend)–I’m giving you some of my most popular easy, real food recipes in these five categories: Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, Ground Beef, Vegetarian, and Fish.

Instant Pot: Instant Pot Pulled Pork Tenderloin (my most popular recipe)

Slow Cooker: Chicken Burrito Bowls (makes enough for a freezer meal or for leftovers)

Ground Beef or Turkey: Meatloaf Pizza (really tastes like pizza)

Vegetarian: Thai Yellow Curry with Baked Tofu (delicious for leftovers)

Fish: Blackened Fish Tacos (just yum!)

Buon appetito!

Cultural Food for Hanukkah: Meal Planning Monday Week 12

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. You may know I’m not Jewish, but I do love eating my way around the world and enjoying traditional foods of other cultures. I think it’s the best way to get to know people who are different than ourselves while relating–because in many ways we are the same.

Whatever our culture, we all have values and beliefs that are important to us…and we all eat. It makes the world feel a little smaller when we are able to respect others’ values and beliefs even if we don’t share them. (As the original melting-pot culture, we could do this more often!)

And when we show interest in others, share a table together, and try new things, we are making ourselves vulnerable and well, life meaningful!

Frankly, sometimes what we eat isn’t even all that different–I find that so comforting! Or maybe it’s just the carbs…but take bread, for example. I love how many cultures have some version of a food that is traditional and similar, yet different.

  • Pita bread (Greek or Middle Eastern),
  • naan (India)
  • Italian bread,
  • baguette (French),
  • the spongy (Ethiopian) flatbread called injera
  • and of course, America has corn bread…or Wonder bread (kind of embarrassing, but it’s probably most representative of our culture)?

Well, then there’s also Jewish challah bread. My daughter has a new friend from school who is from Israel, and her mother shared this delicious freshly-baked loaf of challah with me last Friday! And these new friends also invited us into their home this week to share a meal to learn more about how they celebrate Hanukkah…such a generous invitation and I am really looking forward to it!

Of course you may have noticed I don’t eat a lot of bread because I try to avoid overly processed and refined carbohydrates.  So when I do, it has to be worth it…this is worth trying and I’m hoping I have time to make French toast out of it for “brinner” (breakfast for dinner) on Friday (because my kids have been asking for French toast for a while).

But if you don’t have time for breadbaking this week, try these easy salmon potato cakes! The are a new, higher-protein take on potato latkes, a traditional Hanukkah food. Latkes are fried traditionally to commemorate the miracle of a one-day supply of oil lasting 8 days. So, these are still pan-fried in olive oil, because they taste best that way! But they come together quickly with canned sockeye salmon and you can use frozen hash browns if you like (I prefer fresh, but if I don’t have time I use Trader Joe’s brand because they are preservative free).

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (a busy night): Salmon Potato Cakes with sour cream, roasted broccoli and cauliflower

Tuesday (a busy night): Leftovers (Holiday concert night!)

Wednesday: Out for dinner (to a Hanukkah celebration with friends who are from Israel)

Thursday (a busy night): Instant Pot Chicken Soup (Not a Hanukkah food per se, but it’s easy and warms the soul like new friends! Plus I am making extra to have on hand for the winter.)

Friday: Cinnamon French Toast (with homemade Challah bread if time permits), and fruit

Buon Appetito! And Happy Hanukkah!

Cooking Down: Meal Planning Monday Week 9

Are you a moody eater?  I am–and honestly it makes meal planning extra challenging sometimes!  But my freezer is full and it’s time to focus on “cooking down.”

Hoard much? I don’t know about you, but every now and then I need to reorganize the freezer and make a list of what needs to be used up.  I keep the list on a white board on the fridge, which helps hit me over the head with it.  Sometimes (most times) I need that…

If you’re not familiar with cooking down, you can read more about it in this post. Chances are you do it already, but if you don’t, check out my tips to get you started!

In a nutshell:

Cooking down is using up what you have on hand to minimize waste while still preparing easy, real food for your family.

So, this week’s meal plans are inspired by my need to:

  • prepare mostly from-scratch easy, real food for my family (as usual),
  • cook down and make room in the freezer,
  • catch my breath from the “birthday sweeps,” and
  • brace myself for Thanksgiving and the holiday season!

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (no school, M’s birthday): Out for a sushi birthday dinner (fitting for my daughter who was born in Japan!)

Tuesday (a busy night): Leftover Instant Pot Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, creamed spinach (with frozen spinach), and leftover roasted root vegetables

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Whole Chicken (from the freezer) with Seasoning Salt, caprese salad with fresh mozzarella (from my The Neighborhood Harvest delivery), and whole green beans (from the freezer)

Thursday (a busy night): Brunswick Stew (from the freezer)

Friday: Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas (from the freezer), served over lettuce and topped with shredded cheese, chopped avocado and sour cream

Buon Appetito!

Easy, Real Comfort Foods: Meal Planning Monday Week 8

Well, in case you were worried about me…I made it through my hectic week and I can honestly say that dinner never caused me stress, because I had a realistic plan.  Well, that…and the fact that I had other people making dinner a couple of the nights. Heh. Back to reality this week.

But despite a loud sleepover birthday party with eight 7th graders Saturday night, my Sunday was relaxing enough to figure out the week’s meals. Winning! For now…but I’m definitely in the mood for some easy, real comfort food this week!

What Is “Easy, Real Comfort Food”?

The holiday season is here (as indicated by the arrival of Starbucks’ holiday drinks on Nov. 2, and no I haven’t had one yet)!  And so is some cooler weather (in Virginia anyway)–so, bring on the easy, real comfort foods!

You know “comfort foods,” but you may not know “easy, real comfort foods.” I’m talking about foods that are:

  • easy enough to make during the week,
  • made from real food, not processed foods,
  • warm and hearty for the chilly weather,
  • and particularly nourishing to your body and soul.

Maybe you’ve eaten particular comfort foods throughout your childhood. Perhaps you ate a particular comfort food only one time, yet associate it with the memory of something positively wonderful in your life. It could be that you associate particular comfort foods with a particularly challenging time in your life. Or it’s possible you associate particular comfort foods with the seasons.

Either way, I believe comfort food is an integral part of life’s ups and downs–events or temperatures! But when did “comfort food” become synonymous with “guilty pleasure”?

Here’s the thing:

You don’t have to overindulge in overly processed foods to thoroughly enjoy your food.  Easy, real comfort foods are guilt free, wholesome and real-food based, but most importantly they are easily enjoyable.

So, my meals this week include some of my favorite easy, real comfort foods that I hope you will try!

A hearty beef stew, like my mom used to make

An Italian Tuscan bean soup that reminds me of friends we met in Japan and our time in Italy

A Mediterranean frittata that reminds me of my Greek heritage

 

 

 

 

 

And my version of a chicken pot pie that my friend Kathy shared after the birth of my second daughter on Nov. 12th, 11 yrs ago

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (a busy night): Instant Pot Beef Stew (leftover from Sunday)

Tuesday (no school, but a busy night): Instant Pot Tuscan Bean, Vegetable and Bread Soup (adapting this recipe to make a bread-free version)

Wednesday:  “Brinner”–Mediterranean Caramelized Onion, Zucchini, Tomato and Feta Frittata 

Thursday (a busy night): Leftovers (Tuscan soup)

Friday: Chicken Pot Pie (with a single top crust)

Buon Appetito!

Digging Deep: Meal Planning Monday Week 6

Ugh, I really don’t feel like meal planning today!  Can you relate? We had a busy weekend with camping and birthday parties, and I have a busy week full of my projects and the kids’ activities. (And did I mention it’s just me and the kids?) Plus I’m feeling like I’m all out of meal planning ideas.  Yes, it happens to dietitian bloggers, too. But…when I really stop and think about the alternative (not meal planning), I am always convinced to dig deeper.

I can reuse recipes, or peruse Pinterest (Try this Healthy Recipe Board). But whatever I do–I cannot bear the idea of scrambling last minute.

So, this is what I came up with for the week. I hope it helps inspire you to maintain some order while feeding your family some nourishing easy, real food.

New Fashioned Meatloaf

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (a holiday): New-Fashioned Meatloaf (doubling recipe to bring a freezer-friendly meal to a friend traveling for a funeral), mashed potatoes, and green beans

Tuesday (a busy night): Dinner (pizza) out at the Elementary School’s Roller Skating Party

Wednesday: Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches (recipe to follow) and salad

Thursday (a busy night): From the Freezer: Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls 

Friday: Baked Salmon with Dill Butter, Butternut Squash Gratin (Doubling recipe to bring a batch to a neighbor’s Oyster Roast on Saturday), and roasted broccoli

Butternut Squash Gratin

Buon Appetito!