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Best questions to ask at the farmer’s market

Who doesn’t love going to a farmer’s market on a Saturday morning and coming home with a plethora of beautiful local fruits and vegetables? But are you sure they are local? Are you sure you got the best bang for your buck as far as cost and what produce will taste the best? I know I’ve gone to the farmers market countless times only to come back spending more money than I wanted to and finding out little about the actual food.

There is no better way to find out everything you need to know about the produce (or meat) you are buying at the farmer’s market than from the mouth of the farmer. Don’t be shy! Ask the farmer or vendor at the farmer’s market some of these helpful questions to guide you to the best purchases of fruits and vegetables. By asking these questions, you enrich your own farmer’s market experience by learning more about your food and the farming involved with producing it.

What is selling for the best price?

I think it’s fair to say, we have all come home from a farmer’s market with far too much produce and spent more money than we intended too. But the produce is all so beautiful, right? Right. If you are working on a budget, ask the vendor which produce is selling for the best price. They are running a business too so they should give a you straight shot answer.

When was the fruit or vegetable picked?
No one wants to go home with fruits or vegetables that start rotting the next day. We want the freshest of the fresh depending on how we plan to consume the produce. If it was harvested over >48 hours ago, you may want to shop around and ask other farmers if they have harvested within the last 24 hours.

What produce are you spraying with pesticides or chemicals? Is it organic?
If pesticides and/or chemicals are a big concern for you, don’t be afraid to ask the vendor or farmer which produce do they spray or are they certified organic? This may help guide which produce you purchase. For example, you may gear more towards fruits or vegetables that don’t have edible skin if standard pesticides are used (i.e. bananas or oranges).

How can I cook this?
Variety in consumption of fruits and vegetables is key to great health. But often we are too scared to try something new or have no idea how to cook or prepare it. If you’re looking to try a new fruit or vegetable from the farmer’s market, the farmer is likely the best person to ask what it’s best served with or how to prepare it. Ask if you can try a sample!

Where is your farm located or are you a wholesale market?
Many of us shop at farmer’s markets because we love the idea of supporting local farmers and businesses. However, just because someone is standing behind a table selling produce, doesn’t always mean they are a local farmer. Vendors can be just as knowledgeable, but some travel for larger wholesale companies selling other people’s produce, which does not equate to supporting local business.

Do you need an extra hand?
If you are really eager to find out more about farming or how their farming is done, ask them if they need a free hand sometime. This may be an invaluable experience for truly understanding farm-to-table in West Michigan.


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TOFU: Everything you need to know

When the word tofu gets mentioned, I often get a bewildered look from my patients as if I am asking them to try astronaut ice cream or alien food. Tofu is commonly used in Asian cuisine. It is made into a bean curd by coagulating soy milk and pressing the milk curds into a soft, white block.

Unfortunately, tofu often gets a bad rap for being tasteless or a “health” food. However, people often knock it before trying it or don’t prepare it correctly, resulting in an adverse flavor or texture. However, tofu has some really important health benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Not to mention, tofu can really take on some amazing flavor if prepared correctly.IMG_1778

Tofu is incredibly versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is low in calories and cholesterol, high in protein and a good source of isoflavones, phosphorus, iron, calcium, manganese, copper and selenium. Tofu is particularly useful for anyone trying to find ways to increase their protein intake without the risks of raising bad cholesterol. Now let’s talk about the need-to-know information on preparing and cooking tofu.

Watch my WZZM 13 segment here!


  • Eat raw: any tofu can be eaten raw, but most often silken or soft tofu is used for eating raw.
  • Draining and Pressing: With any tofu, be sure to drain off the water from the package before using. Tofu contains quite a bit of water, so it’s also important apply pressure to the whole block or slices of tofu to extract additional water. Place the tofu on a paper towel-covered plate with another paper towel on top of the block tofu. Next, place a canned good or baking sheet to apply more pressure. Allow about 5-10 minutes for the excess water to drain off.IMG_1772
  • Freezing: Freezing tofu is a great way to pull a good majority of the water from tofu. It is recommended to drain and press the tofu block before freezing. Similar to meat, it can be defrosted in the refrigerator or microwave.
  • Marinating and Glazing: Tofu is a great vehicle for flavor, just like any meat. Therefore, marinating it overnight (after pressing!) or even for 15-30 minutes prior to cooking will help when it comes to adding flavor. If baking, the key is to save some of the marinade for after the tofu is done cooking and brush the tofu with the remaining marinade right before serving. If pan-frying firm tofu with or without oil (canola, peanut, or extra-virgin olive oil), glaze the tofu pieces with the marinade throughout the cooking process. As the tofu continues to fry, re-glaze the tofu until it turns into a syrupy mix that clings to the tofu. This will lock in the marinade and flavor. Whether you are baking, broiling, pan-frying, or grilling, cooking time for tofu generally ranges between 20-30 minutes (flipping halfway through).

Types of tofu:

  • Firm or extra firm: this tofu can take on quite a bit of flavor and is perfect for pan-frying, sautéing, grilling, or roasting.
  • Medium: this tofu still can fall apart on you pretty easily. It is best added to soups or salads depending on your taste preference.
  • Soft/silken: Soft tofu is best eaten raw, lightly fried, or blended and added to recipes, such as a creamy savory sauce or fruit smoothie. Do not press soft tofu due to the soft texture and likelihood of it falling apart on you.



Vanilla Banana-Nut SmoothieIMG_1770

Servings: 3-4 servings (1 cup each)


  • 2 cups non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cubed soft silken tofu
  • 1 1/2 banana, ripe or frozen
  • 2 tbsp. 100% natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seed (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately or freeze for later use.


Pineapple Stir Fry with Baked Tofu (courtesy of Veggie Inspired!)

Servings: 5



  • 1 lb firm tofu , drained, pressed*, and cubed
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (or liquid aminos or tamari for a gluten free version)
  • 2 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger , peeled

Stir Fry

  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger (peeled and minced)
  • 3/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup halved snow peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 3 scallions (sliced)
  • 2 cups cubed pineapple
  • about 1/2 cup water or broth for sautéing

Stir Fry Sauce

  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free)
  • 2 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water

Garnish, optional

  • sliced green onion
  • Sesame seeds
  • drizzle of sesame oil

Serve with your choice of brown or white rice.


  1. Press the tofu if you haven’t already — see note below. Cut it into cubes.
  2. Pour the marinade into a plastic Ziploc bag: 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp pineapple juice and 1/2 inch of fresh peeled ginger. Add the cubed tofu and mix around so it’s all covered with marinade. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. When the tofu is done marinating, remove the tofu and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping each piece half way through the cooking time.
  5. In the meantime, whisk together the stir fry sauce: tomato paste, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp pineapple juice, maple syrup, and vinegar. Mix together the cornstarch and water and add to the sauce. Whisk well and set aside.
  6. Heat a large skillet with 2 tbsp water (or broth) over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 3 minutes.
  7. Add the carrots and 1/4 cup water (or broth), cover and let cook about 5-7 minutes. Check every few minutes and add more water/broth if the pan is getting dry. Add the snow peas, water chestnuts, scallions and pineapple chunks and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add the stir fry sauce and mix well. Add the baked tofu and mix again.
  9. Serve over rice and garnish with sliced green onions, sesame seeds and a sprinkle of sesame oil, if desired.

Recipe Notes:

*To press tofu – place paper towels or a clean dishcloth on a plate and place block of drained tofu on top. Cover with more paper towels or another clean dishcloth, add another plate on top, and weigh it down with whatever you have. I used bags of dried beans or grains.

*To save time, chop your veggies while the tofu is marinating. You can make the stir fry sauce at this time too.

*The stir fry comes together quickly if you have everything prepped ahead of time. Don’t start your stir fry until you have about 15 minutes left for baking the tofu. That way everything will be ready at the same time.




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Plant-Based Diet: How to optimize your side dishes

A few weeks ago, we (as in myself, another dietitian, and our chef at the hospital) finished up our plant-based diet series on WZZM 13. We capped off the series with strategies for optimizing side dishes. In other words, how to make side dishes as nutritionally dense as possible. On average, at least 75% of Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Therefore, when it comes to following a plant-based diet, here are a few guidelines to follow to get the most antioxidant-packed side dishes.

Purchase what’s in season.

Buying produce that is in season or grown locally will not only taste better, but often save you money. What’s in season right now (winter) in West Michigan?

  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Clementines
  • Grapefruit

Buy locally at the Fulton Street Market on Saturday mornings or at the Downtown Market. Kingma’s Market also features produce and protein from local Michigan farms.


Use a combination of pre-cut and fresh ingredients to save time.

Many of my patients find the idea of cutting a whole butternut squash a little daunting and as a result, they often just avoid it. No need! Science is an amazing thing and nowadays there is pre-cut butternut squash along with other vegetables in the produce section. Short on time? Buy a combination of pre-cut and whole, raw vegetables to create a healthy dinner without “slaving” in the kitchen. Note: Pre-cut vegetables tend to break down quicker so be sure to use them within a couple days of purchase. Really, really short on time? Use frozen, cubed butternut squash. You may sacrifice a little flavor, but nothing a little additional seasoning can’t fix. If buying frozen, avoid any frozen vegetables that come with added sauces.


Aim for at least 3 fruits and/or vegetables in one dish.

The key to reducing your risk of chronic disease and cancer is variety! The more variety, the more likely you are to get a broader spectrum of antioxidants and nutrients. By including at least 3 fruits and/or vegetables in a side or main dish, you really pack in the maximum antioxidant and phytochemical power. An easy way to do this is utilizing one-sheet pans! They save on so much time and are perfect for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner.


Try these options below for some of my favorite go-to plant-based side dishes. Keep in mind, any of these can easily be made into an entree by adding a protein (chicken, beef, pork, lentils, beans, tofu, etc.)

Be sure to check out the WZZM 13 visual guide here 🙂


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The Ketogenic Diet and Cancer

The ketogenic diet has been all the rage in the media lately as a potential weight loss diet or as a strategy to reduce cancer cell growth, but is it really safe or evidence-based? I’m about to nerd out with you, buckle up.

Follow my audio guide on WZZM here.

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet (KD) is a high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet. Americans generally consume a diet high in carbohydrates (50-75%). The KD diet requires careful calculation to ensure the ratio of fat to protein/carbohydrates is 4:1. When this ratio is achieved, metabolic pathways shift the bodies’ use of glucose as its primary source of energy to fat or ketones (metabolites of fatty acid breakdown). During this process called ketosis, the body starts to metabolize ketones to provide fuel for bodily functions. Examples of high carbohydrate foods that are limited on this diet include sweets, bread, pasta, juice, fruit, and starchy vegetables. Examples of high fat foods that would be included in this diet may be avocado, olive oil, nuts, nut butters, heavy cream, and butter.

This diet has classically been used to treat epilepsy in children and most recently in adults. In regards to cancer, the ketogenic diet has been of particular interest in the treatment of brain tumors, such as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). However, there has also been interest in its overall treatment of any cancer. Because the brain and cancer cell’s preferred fuel source is glucose, the theory is the KD may alter the metabolism and reduce growth of brain tumor cells and possibly make it more sensitive to treatment (chemotherapy and radiation).


What we currently know

  • The use of the KD diet is safe and feasible as an adjuvant therapy, but requires frequent lab testing and supervision by a dietitian and physician.
  • The KD diet should be administered over at least 3-4 weeks to see any potential benefit or improvement.
  • Quality of life and current tolerance to cancer treatment should be taken into consideration before starting this diet. If a patient is already having difficulty maintaining their weight or sustaining nutritionally, the ketogenic diet may only exacerbate cancer cachexia and an individuals ability to tolerate treatment. A patient’s safety should always be priority numero uno.
  • Animal-based studies and some human studies have shown promising, yet inconsistent results in reduction of tumor growth with the ketogenic diet, especially with brain cancers.

Questions that still need answering-

  • Does every type and subtype of cancer respond the same way to the KD diet? It’s important to remember that not all cells in the body respond the same way and same goes for cancer cells.
  • What’s the exact dosage or ketogenic diet regimen that is most effective? For example, what exact ratio of fat to carbohydrate will be most successful in reducing tumor growth?
  • What are the specific markers or signals that indicate the ketogenic diet is working as it pertains to cancer? In the case of epilepsy, effectiveness can be seen by a patient not having seizures as a result of successful ketosis, however this would be more difficult in cancer. It may require more frequent CT scans and imaging to check on the growth or lack thereof of tumors as a response to the ketogenic diet. With insurance companies already getting a little iffy with providing coverage for reimaging, this may be a challenge.


Other things to consider-

  • Side effects: constipation, fogginess, lightheadedness, and fatigue
  • Better research is needed:
    • Gold standard: Double-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trials
    • Studies specific to cancer type and subtype
  • Good news! Currently, there are several clinical trials and studies ongoing to help address the questions requiring answers.

Takeaway: As an oncology dietitian, I am very excited about the potential of the ketogenic diet being used as a measurable medical nutrition therapy in cancer treatment. But just like any prescription drug or chemo treatment, this needs to have substantial supporting evidence and testing to ensure the treatment is safe and effective. More to come on this topic. Stay tuned…




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Top 5 Time-Saving Kitchen Hacks

With Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, we know there tends to be that one ingredient that you always forget or you don’t have enough time to run to the store to get a last minute recipe item. These easy hacks will help save you time and make cooking or baking a lot less stressful over the next week during the holidays.

Tune in to the audio guide from WZZM here.

  1. Making your own stock but running short on time? Place stock ingredients in a slow cooker on LOW overnight. In the morning, skim the fat, strain, bring to room temperature, and refrigerate.
  2. Measure sticky ingredients without the mess. The struggle is real when going from measuring a tablespoon of honey to a tablespoon of brown sugar. Avoid all the stickiness by spraying the measuring utensil with cooking oil or spray. The ingredients will glide right off the measuring spoon without you having the wash and clean it between ingredients.
  3. Avoid long baking times when it comes to breakfast. Instead of baking an entire quiche for 60 minutes, pour the egg mixture into greased muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes to save time.
  4. Cooking grains without chicken broth. Are you a fellow ancient grain lover (quinoa, farro, bulgar, etc.), but forgot the chicken broth for cooking? Try using interesting flavored teas, such chai or smoky black tea, that you may have on hand to flavor the water while simmering. Remove the tea backs when the grains are done cooking.
  5. Avoid browning with your guacamole. To keep guacamole fresh and that beautiful green color, place in a container or jar and add water on top. Place in the refrigerator. When ready to use, drain the water and serve.


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Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

Tis’ the season for gift giving and receiving. I struggle with this season because I’m going to be honest, I often get wrapped up in the gift giving both literally and figuratively. I am a terrible gift wrapper. These skills do not seem to improve with 28 years of life. Lol.

I have plenty of friends and family that have shared their desire to be healthier this holiday season or start 2018 on a better foot health-wise. This healthy holiday gift guide will give you great ideas to suit anyone this season so you can get back to the most important part of this season: spending time with friends and family or finding ways to give back in your community.

This guide is separated into fitness, food, beauty, and stocking stuffers. Some ideas are for my locals in the Grand Rapids area and some are more generalized to please the masses. Either way, I can bet you will find something that will make someone very happy this Christmas.


  • Monthly subscription to a local gym or yoga studio. Jump start the new year with more physical activity by taking advantage of holiday gym enrollment discounts in your local community.
    • YMCA of Grand Rapids. Waiving the new membership fee starting December 15th. Adult monthly rate $70
    • Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse. 2-week trial $25
    • MVP Sportsplex. No enrollment fee and January month free for new members.
  • Wireless Headphones $130. This is a perfect gift for a new or avid runner planning to participate in 2018 races.
  • Resistance Bands $5-10. This could easily be a stocking stuffer as well. It’s a great addition to a home gym collection.


  • Healthy cookbooks (cost varies). Who doesn’t love a new cookbook with pages and pages of beautiful food and new recipes to sink your teeth in? These are a couple great ones to start with, but truly your options are endless.
  • NutriBullet $60.  Pack in the antioxidants this coming year by blending your favorite fruits and vegetables to make some delicious smoothie concoctions. Be sure to try my turmeric, banana, and ginger smoothie recipe in your new blender 🙂
  • Downtown Market gift card for a cooking class $70-100. This is an awesome present for someone that loves to go out on the town, but needs a little help in the cooking department.
  • Blue Apron or Doorganics gift card $60-240. Another great gift for the amateur cooks that are just getting started on their culinary journey or just want to cook a great meal for their significant other.
  • Vegetable spiralizer $20-30. Spiralized vegetables (zucchini, sweet potato, squash, etc.) as a low carbohydrate substitute for standard spaghetti is all the rage right now and for good reason. Let the experimenting begin!


  • LUSH gift boxes. Made from fresh organic fruits and vegetables, essential oils, and safe synthetics. Not tested on animals. Handmade using little or no preservative or packaging, using only vegetarian ingredients. $40
  • Serenity Heatable/Chillable Spa Mask $20. Take a moment to relax your eyes with this cold or warm mask.
  • Petal multi-use vitamin E oil $30. Say hello to 2018 with glowing, soft, and rose petal-scented skin 🙂


  • Hip circle exercise resistance bands $5-10. Get that booty lookin’ tight and fit for spring break 2018 using these resistance bands while weight lifting or even on their own. 
  • Mortar and pestle $10-40. Know someone who is eager to make their own chimichurri or salsa verde? I’ve got just the thing.
  • Vegetable steamer basket $10-15. Avoid mushy, overcooked steamed vegetables with this handy tool.
  • Avocado slicer $10. Honestly, who doesn’t know someone who loves avocado?! This slicer makes cutting an avocado simple and easy.

Happy Holidays friends!


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Navigating Food Trends

This morning I was on WZZM 13 helping the GR community navigate through the latest food and nutrition trends. The latest trends on the scene include matcha green tea powder, beetroot powder, spirulina, and activated charcoal. But are these foods or products worth your money and which ones may actually be healthy for you? Follow this true or false guide with explanation on which trends are worth your attention. Cheers to evidence-based nutrition advice and hump day!

Check out the WZZM audio guide here!


True or False

Beetroot powder vs. whole beets

Beetroot powder has the same amount of fiber per serving as a whole beet.

True. However this depends on the brand. Because beetroot powder is a supplement, the purity of the product may not be created equal due to lack of FDA regulations. When you are looking for the best beetroot powder, aim for at least 2 grams of fiber per serving (generally 2 tsp-1 Tbsp powder). Try adding the powder to smoothies, baked goods, pasta sauces, salad dressing, dips, and soups.

Activated charcoal for detox diets

Activated charcoal is a healthy and safe way to remove toxins from your body.

False. The use of activated charcoal is most commonly reserved for emergency treatment of severe poisonings. The administration of activated charcoal causes the charcoal to bind to chemicals, foods, drugs, and nutrients in the stomach to prevent being absorbed into the body. In other words, if you are taking this for a healthy diet detox and consuming with healthy food, these healthy nutrients will also not be absorbed. This not only prevents the absorption of the good nutrients that your body needs, but excessive intake can increase your risk of constipation or diarrhea, black stools, or dehydration. Stick to a plant-based diet with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables for the best long-term “detox” diet.


Spirulina is one of the few foods on the planet with a naturally high content of the healthy omega 6 fatty acid, gamma linoleic acid (GLA).

True. Spirulina is a green-blue algae powder that can be added to foods or taken as a pill supplement. Although it is safe to consume for adults, the algae flavor may turn most away. But what it lacks in flavor, it makes up in nutrient composition. Spirulina is packed with protein, vitamin A and K, iron, potassium, GLA, and other antioxidants, such as phycocyanin and zeaxanthin. Preliminary and mostly animal-based studies show promising potential health benefits, such as boosting the immune system, preventing infection and allergic reactions, anticancer properties, and improving liver and eye health. More research is needed to determine the exact impact spirulina has on overall health.

Matcha green tea powder

Matcha green tea may have a higher antioxidant content than regular green tea.

True. Matcha green tea uses the whole tea leaf and grinds it into a powder. This powder is then mixed in with hot water for a frothy tea beverage, ultimately allowing you to consume whole tea leaves. On the other hand, general consumption of regular green tea is the infused water from the leaves instead of whole tea leaf consumption. Matcha green tea leaves grow in shaded areas potentially increasing the chlorophyll content. Matcha green tea also contains l-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which have antioxidant properties, help fight inflammation in the body, and may improve alertness. Due to lack of scientific evidence specific to matcha green tea, there is no clear indication to drink matcha green tea over regular green tea. Try using in lattes, smoothies, and sweet or savory sauces. It is not recommended to drink more than 2 cups of matcha green tea daily due to its nutrient concentration.



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Coconut Oil: A slippery slope?


A recent report came out from the American Heart Association’s (AHA) presidential advisory board warning against the use of coconut oil and truthfully all I thought to myself was….FINALLY. Don't get me wrong, fats do belong in a healthy diet, but you are wrong to think too much saturated fat is going to keep your heart healthy.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 1 of every 3 deaths. In regards to reducing risk of CVD, the AHA’s recommendations since 1961 has consistently advised to reduce dietary saturated fat intake. AHA’s recent report took a deep dive into the latest scientific evidence on dietary fats and CVD risk. The conclusion of this report is again consistent with their previous recommendations: keep saturated fat intake to <10% of your total calories and replace saturated fats with mono- and polyunsaturated fats more often. If you have elevated LDL cholesterol levels, recommendations are even stricter and include reducing saturated fat intake to <5-6% of total calorie intake.

With coconut oil containing ~82% saturated fat (even beating butter and lard for saturated fat content), the AHA’s response to using this oil is simple…don’t. A review of 7 controlled clinical trials revealed that coconut oil raised LDL, the bad cholesterol, in comparison with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils in all 7 trials. But have no fear. I am here to help! I have an easy guide for how to incorporate oils in a healthy diet.

Check out my news segment with WZZM here for the audio guide.

Key takeaway (if you read nothing else, read this!): Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats over saturated fats as much as possible. They have been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol (yay!).

  • Monounsaturated fats: olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, avocados, peanut butter, almondsFullSizeRender
  • Polyunsaturated fats: peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, walnutsFullSizeRender_1
  • Saturated fats: butter, coconut oil, ghee, palm oil, lard, beef fat, whole fat dairy, lamb, pork, poultry with skinFullSizeRender_2

Serving size: 

  • Oils: 1 TbspFullSizeRender_4
  • Foods rich in oils:
    • Trans fat-free margarine and mayonnaise: 1 Tbsp
    • Salad dressings and peanut butter: 2 Tbsp
    • Avocado: ½ medium or 3 tsp
    • Nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts): 1 oz or 3 tsp
  • Average calories per serving: 75-150 calories
  • Daily Oil Allowance: ~2 Tbsp for adultsFullSizeRender_3

Smoke point: the degree to which an oil or fat starts smoking and breaking down. If your oil is heated past it's smoke point, the fat in the oil starts to break down and releases free radicals. These free radicals create unpalatable flavors and promote inflammation in the body. Be sure to use oils based on your cooking methods.

  • Searing, deep-frying, stir-frying: peanut, corn, or safflower oil
  • Salad dressings or sautéing: virgin olive, avocado, or sesame oil

Storage: Oils should be stored in a dry, dark, and cool place away from light, heat, moisture, and air. I know those clear, glass bottles with the special nozzles are tempting to keep as a kitchen counter accessory, but your oils should really be kept away from heat in a dark, dry place so avoid storing it in the cupboard above the stove.

Purchasing: When grabbing your favorite oil from the local grocery store, try to avoid buying in bulk and stick with the smaller containers of oils. The bigger the container, the more likely the oil will have time to go rancid before you finish it. Try to stick with virgin or raw oils to preserve the best flavor. Lastly, there is always the unknown of how long the oil has already been sitting on the shelf absorbing the unwanted fluorescent light at the grocery store. Try to avoid picking the first or second oil on the shelf. Do a little shuffling and pick one farther back in the line protected by darkness of the shelf. This helps to avoid purchasing potentially half-rancid oil without even knowing it.


P.S. Still got a jar of coconut oil sitting around and don't what to do with it now that you've learned it's not the healthiest of fats? It'll make an excellent moisturizer or hair conditioner. So instead of contributing to your bum fat, it will make your bum soft 😉




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Nutrition Facts Label Decoded

With so much information available on food labels, it can be difficult to navigate and figure out what’s really best for your body.

I had a really fun discussion with WZZM 13 news yesterday morning about how to best navigate those confusing food labels and why to be cautious about health claims. Check out the video here!


Marketing of food items affects how we as consumers purchase foods and this proves true with foods that we think are nutritious. A recent study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that individuals were more likely to purchase snacks with health claims even if they are not the most nutritious. Health claims can include organic, low-fat, all-natural, reduced sodium, etc.

In particular, participants in this study were 30% less likely to use the Nutrition Facts label before their purchase if a nutrient content claim was on the front of the package. Although only 10% of participants opted to look at the Nutrition Facts label, those that did were 5 times more likely to choose the healthier option. These results only cement the need for consumers to be their own health advocates and understand how to navigate food labels for healthy foods.

Guide to navigating food labels

Sample Nutrition Facts label:


1. Start with the serving size. Look at the serving size and total servings per container. Then ask yourself, “Am I going to consume more than one serving”? If the answer is yes, then be sure to double the total nutrient numbers (i.e. calories, grams of fat, etc.).

2. The Rule of 3. Know which nutrients to limit and which to get more of. The top three nutrients, fat, cholesterol, and sodium are all nutrients to keep your intake the least of as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, intake of the right type of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and adequate vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, are nutrients to make sure you get enough of.

3. Understanding the percent daily value. Knowing that 5 percent DV or less is low and 20 percent DV or more is high is an easy rule of thumb to remember. Always remember to double these percentages as needed if you are consuming more than one serving.

Take away message(s):

  • Don’t depend on health claims to determine the nutrition quality of a food.
  • When in doubt, check the nutrition facts label! I know it can be scary, but by just looking at the nutrition facts label, you are more likely to make a healthier choice.
  •  If this is still very confusing to you, start by shopping the perimeter of the grocery store to increase your probability of purchasing fresh and healthy ingredients.
  • Better yet, focus on using the MyPlate method by filling your plate with nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes that don’t need health claims to make them healthy.

MyPlate icon

Have a great Thursday everyone!