Good Food Bad Food

As a dietitian I’m often asked “is {insert food} good for me?” or, another common variation of this question: “is {food} healthy?” I often want to respond “well heck I don’t know, I know nothing about you!” Is kale a good food? Yes. Are you on coumadin? Then no, you can’t go hog-wild and throw down plates of kale or green drinks.

The Good Food, Bad Food or stoplight approach for all is an easy system that fails to truly reach and teach people about the foods that are best for them, given their situation. Sure, it’s kind of obvious no one chooses a doughnut or soda to improve the nutrition content of their diet. But, there’s more gray area after doughnuts then red or green lights that can succinctly group foods into categories for the masses. Plus, many very good-for-you foods (sometimes referred to as “nutrient dense” meaning they have a good amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients in them) may not make the cut because they have too many calories per serving or don’t meet some other general criteria needed before they get that green stamp of approval. And many others that are on the list may be ones you don’t like, don’t know how to prepare or don’t settle well in your stomach.

Like any team sport game (football, tennis, basketball, soccer etc.), food can be very situation-dependent (depends on what’s best for you). You put in the right players to get the job done depending on the opponents you face. Likewise, instead of letting green and red guide you to what you should and shouldn’t eat, add the right foods to your diet based on your particular situation and to get the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy plant-based compounds needed to build, repair and support functions within your body while also pleasing your tastebuds.

Here’s an example of seemingly healthy foods that are off limits for many people – making a single answer to this question very tough.

Good Food, Bad Food

Nutrition is complex and I start people off with easy to follow guidelines. But, keep in mind when I (or another dietitian) answers the Good Food, Bad Food question we are answering it for you and not for the masses or for the masses in general though it may not fit on your eating plan.

On the Grill: Italian Style Turkey Burgers

Turkey is my all time favorite meat. Sliced, as turkey burgers, on Thanksgiving Day, you name it, I like it. So, when I signed up to cook more often and blog about it with my good friends and colleagues at the Recipe Redux, turkey was the obvious choice for the challenge: Make it Grilled.

I call this recipe Italian Style Turkey Burgers because another one of my favorite foods is arugula.

On my first trip to Italy I became hooked on this green so why not throw it in a burger for a little more flavor and eye appeal. Add a few more of my favs: onions, garlic and feta and I’m wondering why I didn’t think of this sooner. 5 ingredients, quick prep, tastes delicious!
Italian Style Turkey Burgers


  • 1 lb ground turkey (I used 94% lean)
  • 6 oz feta, crumbled
  • 1.5 cups argula
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, form into patties and grill! If you want to vary the taste, you can opt for a flavored feta or throw in a number of fresh herbs such as parsley or oregano.

Here they are before grilling (post grill pics came out a little blurry).

Check out all of the delicious recipes my colleagues made on the grill for June:

Alexandra Caspero
Grilled Summer Fruit Salad
Alysa Bajenaru – Inspired RD
Grilled Romaine Salad
Cindy Brison
Nutrition Know How
Chef Pandita
Grilled Vegetables
Danielle Omar – Food Confidence
Grilled Sweet Peppers
Diane Welland – EatWellEatClean
Grilled Beet & Onion Salad with Goat Cheese
The Nutrition Budgeteer
Dr Barb’s Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad
EA Stewart – The Spicy RD
Grilled Polenta Veggie Stacks with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes
Emma Stirling – The Scoop on Nutrition
Char Siu BBQ Pork
Gretchen – Kumquat
Grilled Tandoori Chicken Skewers
Jackie Mills- Delicious Diabetes Cooking
Grilled Proscuitto Shrimp with Asian Dipping Sauce
Jessica Fishman Levinson – Nutritioulicious
Grilled Salmon Burgers with Cherry Chutney
Kat Lynch – Eating The Week
Portobello mushrooms stuffed with spiced couscous
Katie Caputo- East Meats West
Succulent Sirloin Kabobs
Kristen – Swanky Dietitian
Portabella Mushroom Burgers with Grilled Corn
Lisa – Healthful Sense
Grilled Veggie Bean Burgers
Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex – Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen
Mushroom Burgers with the Works, Mushroom Cannellini Spread
Marie Spano
Italian Grilled Turkey Burgers
Nicole Ferring Holovach – Whole Health RD
Grilled Eggs
Regan – The Professional Palate
Grilled Eggplant & Two-Tomato Whole-Wheat Piadina
Serena – Teaspoon of Spice
Grilled Watermelon Salad


Overweight or Obese? Your Transformation Guide is Here!

As a nation, we’ve never had more tools to help us lose weight. But, we also have food, and tons of it, at our fingertips.  Food is everywhere and in some places, parks and trails are scarce. So, what’s an overweight girl or guy to do? Follow this step-by-step plan:

  1. Write down your exact goals and why you want to achieve them. What is driving you down the path to losing weight?
  2. Find out what works for you and check in frequently. I recommend working one-on-one with a dietitian who can take your medical history, medications you are consuming and dieting history into account to create a personalized plan while working around any barriers you may have (money, time, family duties, stress, motivation).
  3. Opt for a little more protein and consume protein evenly distributed throughout the day (but, don’t cut carbs out completely or you may find yourself dreaming of bread and fruit).
  4. Face your weight gain head on – take a look at your weight history over time and find out what caused your weight gain and deal directly with that issue.
  5. Believe you can change (this is a HUGE part of your success) and be sure to surround yourself with people who believe you can change.
  6. Realize it “Isn’t about the Hershey kisses,” as Memphis-based eating disorder expert and dietitian Leslie Schilling says. Binge eating, eating in secret (kitchen sink-side eating) and overeating have nothing to do with food and therefore, it is important to find out exactly why you are eating. What emotion or feeling is causing you to turn to food?
  7. Get rid of your Food Shame and Good Food, Bad Food mentality. If you feel shamed, you’ll eat in secret.
  8. Write down every BLT (bites, licks and tastes). You bite it, you write it.
  9. Reward yourself with non-food rewards.
  10. Exercise. Find whatever works for you that you like and will continue doing!