Inhalable Caffeine? Think Again

By Sara Shipley, Nutrition and Dietetics Student

What will they come up next? A few months ago, AeroShot was released in the US(NY and Boston markets) from Breathable Foods. This product is an inhalable form of energy. It looks like a small bullet casing, silver and yellow- this powerful little shot packs a punch. It contains 100 mg caffeine, B vitamins and a slew of other flavorings and sweeteners. Manufactured in France, AeroShot is the brainchild of Harvard professor David Edwards. His company, Breathable Foods launched this product in Europe last year and this is not the first ingestible product they have developed. Le Whif, a breathable chocolate product.

AeroShot is marketed to athletes, students or tired professionals, age 12+ of course. The website touts ‘no calories, no liquid, no limit’.  Born from David Edwards’s idea that rather than ingesting nutrients, you could inhale them. On technicality, the website does not necessarily advise ‘inhaling’, but to ‘draw the powder gently into your mouth’.

So, we all know the benefits of caffeine when moderately consumed. It can pull you through an afternoon lull at work, it can jumpstart your cycle session at the gym or ‘the best part of waking up’- your morning joe. We also know the effects of overdoing it- feeling jittery, headaches and an elevated heart rate. So, naturally this product raises eyebrows- FDA namely…

  • Is inhaling caffeine safe?
  • Will abusing this product be harmful?
  • If unintended for youth- why does the marketing and advertising lean towards this population?

AeroShot refutes these concerns with several ‘scientific explanations’ on their website. Allegedly, AeroShot particle size is too large to enter lungs, rather it reaches your mouth and is swallowed and ingested into the blood stream. They go on to solidify the efficacy of their product by unsubstantiated clinical studies that ‘have shown that AeroShot delivers caffeine into the bloodstream at the same rate of drinking caffeine’. The convenience factor is the portability and quickness of ‘pulling it out of your pocket’”

Although this product is NOT currently banned, the FDA wants to warn consumers. The effects of inhaling caffeine have not been researched and therefore they want to raise a red flag to use this product with caution. They also want AeroShot to reconsider their marketing, as a recent report from the NY Daily News reports, “The Food and Drug Administration reviewed your website at in February 2012 and has determined that the product AeroShot is misbranded,” … “We also have safety questions about the product.” In the past week alone, this story has been buzzing across all mediums- weighing in on the safety of this product. Creator and founder, David Edwards is quoted in Medical Daily online, “Even with coffee — if you look at the reaction in Europe to coffee when it first appeared — there was quite a bit of hysteria,” the Harvard University professor and AeroShot inventor David Edwards had told AP in February. “So anything new, there’s always some knee-jerk reaction that makes us believe ‘Well, maybe it’s not safe.”

Although this product is legal, interesting and yet another innovative tool to get you through your long, tiring days or hard workout- is this safe? Sure, in moderation everything is okay. But, the potential for abuse seems high. I’m curious to see how this controversy affects the life of AeroShot. In theory, it’s great. But, we all know that not everything theoretical is smart for the average consumer.



Keep Your Heart Health

By Sara Shipley, nutrition student, University of Central Oklahoma

February is National Heart Month. With heart disease as the leading cause of death in the US and the leading killer of women, an increased awareness of this disease is important. The American Heart Association encourages awareness through their GO RED campaign and promotes a heart healthy lifestyle, including physical activity and smart eating habits. In fact, this past Friday, February 3rd marked “National Wear Red Day”, which promotes awareness and advocacy for the prevention of heart disease.

Although most Performance Nutrition readers are active, there are several important issues to consider when it comes to risk factors related to heart disease.

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and tobacco use are all factors that can normally be controlled without medication(some exceptions apply to certain people). In general, minor adjustments to your eating habits can have significant benefits to lowering your risk for developing heart disease.

These adjustments include:

  • Keep your blood pressure low by watching your sodium intake– high levels will increase BP.
  • High cholesterol levels will increase your chances of developing atherosclerosis. When your arteries are hardened- your heart works harder to function, if it works at all. This directly leads to heart attacks.
  • Lower your saturated and trans fat intake, as these types of fats             have been determined to increase ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in your blood.
  • Eat foods with more fiber– whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Increased dietary fiber is linked to decreased risk of high cholesterol levels, controlled blood sugar and weight loss. Obesity makes your heart work harder, and counters every benefit just listed above from fiber.
  • Sugar control– natural, unprocessed sugar found in fruits and vegetables is great! However, baked goods and sodas should be moderately consumed and not a staple in your diet.
  • Smoking is bad for you. Do I need to explain any further?

This message may be old news to you or maybe you forgot all the repercussions that a poor diet can have on your health. Regardless, take this short message to heart and remember that without a healthy, beating muscle in your chest- you will not be able to run, jump, swim, bike, shoot hoops or do anything. Heart health is essential, especially to athletes with added stress to our bodies.

Have a great day and don’t forget to wear red not just on Friday, February 3rd to support the GO RED initiative but throughout heart health month!

The Truth About Soy

By: Sara Shipley, University of Central Oklahoma nutrition student

I have recently been working with a young woman who has decided to take up a vegetarian diet, for personal reasons. Interestingly, when we came to the topic of dairy, she waivered, but had decided to drink almond milk because she had heard so many controversial things about soy and soymilk. Before recommending anything- I wanted to get all my facts straight about the soy controversy.

Anywhere you look- from media sources, online reviews, diet books, to government publications, you are going to find countless claims about soy. Some are touting the natural benefits, while other sources warn of the harmful effects soy has in the diet. There are so many myths, it all seems impossible to ignore.

A handful of negative claims about soy:

  • It causes thyroid problems
  • It increases cancer risk and heart disease
  • It causes fertility problems
  • It affects male sperm quality
  • It increases estrogen levels
  • It is unsafe for pregnant women
  • It is an allergen
  • It interferes with mineral absorption

All of the claims are controversial, but what is the truth? Research studies are mixed however according to Virginia Messina, MPH, RD and Mark Messina, PhD,  “it is important to recognize some important facts about scientific research. It’s true that there have been studies showing negative effects associated with soy consumption. But it is a rare situation where every single study on a subject is in agreement. There are always a few that sit in direct contrast to the majority of the studies. So it is never a good idea to suggest broad conclusions or recommendations based on one or two studies. By picking and choosing individual studies carefully enough, you can prove just about anything you would like about nutrition. That’s why health experts look at all the research and pay attention to the totality of the evidence, not just to a few studies. Many of the studies that have concluded that soy is unhealthful have used animals as subjects. Drawing conclusions about human health from animal research can be very misleading.”

I couldn’t agree more with the phrase “by picking and choosing…you can prove just about anything you would like about nutrition.” That gives anyone free reign to make health claims based on research, regardless of the validity or legitimacy of a study. Registered dietitians are the experts in food and nutrition, so trust only those sources for the truth behind nutrition information.

For more than 11 years, the FDA has supported the health claim that soy can fight heart disease and contributes to decreased LDL cholesterol levels. The United Soybean Board consists of a team of nutrition experts that have cleared up the controversy about soy. Recent research refutes so many of the myths listed above and advises soy as a healthy, safe component to a balanced diet. Low in saturated fat, soy contributes to heart health, as noted with the FDA stamp of approval. Soy has been attributed to reducing the risk for breast cancer and preventing prostate cancer. There is no scientific evidence that soy lowers testosterone levels or increases estrogen levels in males. There is no scientific evidence that soy is harmful to pregnant women. Although all soy is NOT the same, soybeans are virtuous sources of protein, fiber, polyunsaturated fat and a list of minerals, including calcium. In fact, this plant protein is equivalent to animal protein sources as it contains all nine essential amino acids, which the body cannot produce and therefore, we must consume these in our diet. Soy foods are also a good source of dietary fiber, which have great benefits to your health (lower cholesterol, increase digestive health and lower risk of heart problems).

I wanted to be thorough in my quest for the truth about soy, without subjective information from soy companies. Each of the sources I found most reputable had highly qualified experts- dietitians and physicians who know the science behind soy. If you are interested further- check out any of these websites. (Jack Norris RD has a thorough article on soy, which substantiates the research, both good and bad.)

So, other than a source of protein for vegetarians, why would I recommend soy foods? This legume is chock full of nutrients every rounded diet- including the athlete needs: complete protein, fiber, polyunsaturated fats, and calcium. Not to mention- have you ever tried vanilla or chocolate soymilk? It tastes pretty darn good and adds much more creaminess to your bowl of cereal or cup of coffee than watery skim milk.

So, I advised soy milk to my vegetarian friend. The benefits to soy are unparalleled for her diet.

Do you ever drink soy milk or have you ever tried soy foods? What is your perception on soy and your health?


An Unexpected New Year’s Resolution

By Sara Shipley, RD-to be, Nutrition Student at the University of Central Oklahoma

Yes, it’s that time again and the thought has probably crossed your mind as 2011 comes to a close. The annual New Year’s resolution. And, according to many popular media sources, losing weight tops many people’s resolution list. Yet our nation is in a major health crisis. Something isn’t adding up and though many people realize they should take charge of their health, they are not taking the right approach to fix the problem. If the majority of people continue to ditch their goals by February, we will continue to see the rate of obesity, diabetes and heart disease rise.

If losing weight is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, or even if it isn’t, I am going to tell you about one big dietary change that will yield big results: boosting your fiber intake.

Fiber is the indigestible part of a carbohydrate. We need fiber in our diet because our bodies do not absorb it. Rather, it acts as a vehicle to remove waste products from f our system.  Here are three reasons to eat more fiber:

Feel full longer: Fiber provides “bulk” to your diet which helps control hunger, as it takes time to move through your digestive tract leaving you full throughout the day. Eating a high fiber breakfast every morning will start your day off right.  Try oatmeal with berries and low-fat milk or whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana.

Digestion: Fiber will regulate your bowel movements and this helps keep everything moving out of your system, including some residual toxins.

Lowers LDL cholesterol levels and risk for heart disease: Increasing fiber may contribute to lowering LDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and inflammation in the body. Controlling these health markers will help protect your heart.

Try this easy, high fiber hors d’oeuvre for your New Years Eve party. I have already made it for several holiday parties and it was devoured.

Bacon Wrapped Dates: Dates are dried fruit with a sweet flavor and chewy texture that will balance the salty bite of bacon. (Try turkey bacon if you want to cutback the fat, but it may not crisp as well.)

Yield: 30 pieces

  •  15 slices thick bacon
  • 30 pitted dates (Dole brand was perfect bite-size and a bag usually has approx. 30)
  • toothpicks

Pre-heat the oven to 425 F. Slice each bacon piece in half, short ways. Roll a piece of bacon around each date and pierce with a wooden toothpick. Place wrapped dates on a sprayed baking sheet (set ½ inch apart). Cook for 13-16 minutes, turning once to ensure the bacon crisps on all sides.

Place on a rack to slightly cool and serve warm.

Peas are also a high fiber food and Black Eye Pea dips and dishes are a big New Years Tradition here in Oklahoma. Get your fill of fiber with peas as you ring in the New Year!







 [SS1]What other word can you think of? I feel like ‘diet’ has already been over-used.

 [SS2]Marie- isn’t that right? Please delete if you think it sounds weird/incorrect.

Facing the Nutrition Facts

Sara Shipley, Nutrition student at the University of Central Oklahoma

When you grocery shop, do you bother to read nutrition facts? When you scan the labels- what exactly are you looking to find? Total Calories? Grams of Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates or Sodium? The list of ingredients? Serving size?

Reading the Nutrition Fact panel on a package of food is a step in the right direction to mindful eating, and according to a study by Washington State University Economist Bidisha Mandal, reading food labels aids weight loss efforts. Mandal’s research shows that reading labels contributes to a greater chance of successful weight loss in those who do not exercise. However, reading the nutrition fact panel is only as valuable as understanding the information. And if you want to benefit from label reading, it is imperative that you know what to look for on a label. The percentage values, for instance, are not a ‘one-size fits all’ recommendation, and the order of nutrients are not necessarily listed in the greatest priority. In short- it’s no surprise that people glaze over when attempting to skim the labels. It’s basically a confusing cluster of numbers, unless you know what each value means to you.

Recently, a research study was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association investigating consumer’s behavior while grocery shopping. Previous research has been conducted on the subject, but this research was based on the subject’s perception of how thoroughly they read labels, rather than the actual amount they read. The researchers, D.J. Graham PhD and R.W. Jeffery PhD, from the University of Minnesota sought a more thorough approach with the use of eye-scanning devices strategically placed in the supermarket. They wanted to directly measure visual attention, and relate the data to perceived behavior reported from subjects. The results support the premise that although consumer’s reportedly read labels, only a fraction of people take the time to actually decipher the nutrition facts. According to the study, people only look at the first 4-5 lines. Well bad news folks- you’re missing out. Although serving size is relevant, there are so many additional, pertinent nutrients listed below. You might be thinking, ‘of course- why bother reading if you’re not going to actually pay attention to the entire panel?’ Well, how many times have you accidentally snagged the wrong flavored soup or yogurt by mistake? Though the name is usually plastered to the front of the can or carton, but habitually grabbing the familiar package is an honest mistake. So, what exactly are people missing at the very bottom, even below the fact panel? The entire list of ingredients. The problem with all of this is: if the average American is claiming to read the nutrition facts but too lazy to scan down 6-7 lines, their efforts are futile. Now, if at this point you’re thinking- ‘I don’t want to read that laundry list of items on every package I buy.’ You may want to reconsider consuming such processed foods.

Here’s why:

Reading the nutrition fact panel helps you make an educated decision about what you are eating. With the national average obesity rate at an alarming 33%, according to the CDC- people should be making more conscious choices.

Each person’s recommended dietary needs will vary, but this is my simple approach to reading nutrition fact panels:

  • Look at the Serving size and the number of servings in a package. Each ingredient value listed thereafter is according to a single serving.
  • Look at Saturated fat: eat minimally (<7% total daily calories, avg. 16 grams)
  • Look for Fiber: aim for 15-25 grams/day
  • Look for Protein: aim for 120-130 grams/day (depending on your weight, physical activity and health status – most adults should aim for 1.2 – 2.0 grams protein per kg bodyweight)
  • Look for Sodium: a healthy daily amount ranges from 1500-2300 mg
  • Look at Sugar: some very healthy foods are naturally high in sugar (fruit, dried fruit and dairy for instance) therefore, though you should be mindful of your sugar intake, it isn’t necessary or realistic to cut all sugar out of your diet (and for the athlete certain kinds of sugar, consumed at the right times can improve various aspects of athletic performance and recovery).

As you probably suspect- I read the labels. I want to know exactly what I am putting in my body. Likewise, if you’re training /regularly active, why absent-mindedly ruin your efforts with processed junk? You may not even realize the detriment to your diet because you thought all along that ‘multigrain’ crackers were the high-fiber choice. Reading the label should really be half of your efforts while grocery shopping. Try to ‘shop the perimeter’ where the produce, vegetables, fresh fish and meats are offered. These items usually do not have nutrition fact panels, because they are whole foods. Shop for whole foods that have a single ingredient and it takes all the confusion out of grocery shopping and reading nutrition fact panels.

Gatorade’s Product Line – Confusing but Forging Forward

Written by: Sara Shipley, RD student, runner, nutrition writer and more

Gatorade fruit bites and pro chews? Yes, you read that right. PepsiCo’s brand is embarking on a major product expansion into a new market.

Recently, an article about Gatorade caught my eye, and here’s why. I find their product line a bit confusing. I know they offer an electrolyte-rich sports beverage to mass markets and serious athletes alike, but keeping up with the right drink to consume pre or post workout honestly gives me a headache. This article will shed light on the direction the brand is heading and how they are getting there.

At the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida, Gatorade has a lab and, well known sports figures including NBA star Dwayne Wade and Iman Shumpert are involved in the studies, which drive the scientist’s knowledge of an athlete’s needs for performance. The brand has set out to develop products that rival competition in other markets. ‘“One beverage can’t serve all your needs as an elite athlete,” says the brand’s chief, Sarah Robb O’Hagan. (Her official title is Gatorade president, North America, and global chief marketing officer, sports nutrition, for PepsiCo.) Gatorade’s goal is to go from a big fish in a $7 billion U.S. sports-drink industry to an even bigger fish in a $20 billion sports nutrition market.’

As the sports drink took a hit during the 2008 economy bust, Gatorade’s market share decreased from 80 to 74%. Compounded by competition in the performance fuel market (Jelly sport beans, energy bars and Honey Stinger waffles), professional and serious athletes were looking elsewhere for energy sources. Gatorade marketing strategists’ knew that in order to revive their brand, they would need to expand product offerings.

Examining athlete’s performance and nutrient absorption has been a major focus as Gatorade goes into the lab and tries to develop effective products. Lawrence Armstrong, professor of environmental and exercise physiology at the University of Connecticut’s human performance laboratory explained in the article: “Research says protein helps repair muscles after exercise. But simply chocking a bar full of protein won’t work. The body can handle only so much at a time. And even when the optimal level of a carbohydrate is determined, making large amounts of the supplement palatable in a drink requires further expertise. There are many, many factors that influence performance, including psychology, sleep, and environmental conditions.’’

As I mentioned, their product line seems convoluted. Gatorade executives agree. “I think it’s a very confusing brand,” says Tim Hoyle, director of research for PepsiCo.  Although the sports drink giant now offers a wider assortment of products, ‘Gatorade has its work cut out for it. It will need to persuade everyone from high school jocks to weekend tennis warriors that they should trade bananas for packaged carbohydrate chews, and peanut butter sandwiches for processed protein bites.’ Currently, three core product lines for G Series include ‘G’, ‘G Fit’, and ’G Pro’ and each offers pre, during and post workout products.  The ‘G’ line is targeted to ‘performance athletes such as high school teams or recreational adult league players- which according to the article make up nearly a quarter of the United States population.  The ‘G Fit’ is intended for the more moderately active population who exercises to stay healthy, but do not participate in competition. Finally, the ‘G Pro’ line is the list of products formally only available to pro athletes. Consumers are now able to purchase the bars and chews with precisely engineered ratios of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and mineral for performance and recovery.

Armed with an assortment of new products, the brand faces another challenge. Executive Sarah Robb O’Hagan noticed the brand really wasn’t marketing to athletes. “The huge aha! for me was, ‘We’re an athletic performance brand, we’re selling in convenience and grocery stores, but we don’t even show up in a sporting goods store, in a cycling store, or in a place where an athlete actually goes to equip themselves to play sports.” Distribution will be instrumental in their success. Vice-President Brand Marketing Andrea Fairchild explains: “We are setting a different bar for how we are looking at retail’…instead of just stacking beverages high and selling them cheaply in grocery and convenience stores, the new strategy requires the company to rethink everything from advertising to in-store displays. Gatorade now is selling to GNC vitamin shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Whole Foods Market, and specialty sports stores. It’s about being where athletes shop and sweat.”

As an amateur runner, I have personally had great success with homemade pre- and post workout snacks, including peanut butter toast and Greek yogurt with oatmeal. However, I’m intrigued with the bite-sized fruit nut bars for long runs. Have you tried any of Gatorade’s new products? Do you think they can sustain their dominance in the market and grow as a sports nutrition resource? Share your comments!


Try this Winter Fruit for Great Taste & Good Health

By Sara Shipley, RD-to-be and student at the University of Central Oklahoma

Looking for a reason to try butternut squash? I have plenty! This winter fruit, (yes it is technically a fruit because it has seeds) is packed with healthful benefits to round out any meal. Just a single cup provides an ample dose of vitamins A, B1, B3, B6, C, calcium, potassium, and fiber! The butternut squash has an inedible pale-yellow skin with a sweet, somewhat nutty flavored, deep orange flesh. The seeds must be removed prior to cooking, however they can be eaten as a snack after roasting.

Beyond the delicious taste, butternut squash is chock full of wholesome vitamins and minerals that you need in your daily diet.


VITAMINS: The primary source of vitamin A is from beta-carotene,     with more than 300% of the daily-recommended value in a single cup. It is also a great source for Vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and enzymatic cofactor in our bodies, both necessary to  regulate healthy function. Moreover, this squash provides a source of    approximately 10% each of multiple B vitamins, including B1-Thiamin,   B3- Niacin and B6.

MINERALS: We’ve heard they’re important, but how can you keep up with getting the right amount? Rather than taking a supplement, try incorporating just a single cup for a good source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Calcium contributes to strong bones and muscle function and potassium is an integral player in the fluid balance within our bodies. Without magnesium, many enzymatic processes required for normal function cannot proceed. These minerals are vital to a healthy diet.

FIBER: Ah, the digestive health rock star. Fiber keeps your body regular and it is involved in lowering cholesterol and maintaining blood sugar levels. That makes it heart healthy and a preventative measure towards pre-diabetes. Eat just a single cup of this squash and you will add at least 2 grams to your daily fiber goal, which should be approximately 15-20 grams.

There are also many other heart healthy attributes to this squash. Low in fat, there are only 80 calories in a cup (205g), primarily which come from complex carbohydrates. There is no cholesterol and less than 8 mg of sodium! Because this squash is naturally sweet, you don’t need to add much to enjoy the simple taste.

Steaming the squash for 7-8 minutes makes it so easy to enjoy and a quick addition to many basic dishes.  I have been cooking with butternut squash a lot lately and have found two recipes that I love, are easy to make and quite affordable.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Tart: There is nothing fancy about this ‘tart’ and this recipe calls for only 6-7 ingredients. Don’t be detoured from the process of caramelizing the onions, because they pair so well with the squash and your family or guests will be asking for seconds (or the recipe).


1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, separated

4 ounces goat cheese, slightly chilled

1.5 cups of cooked, 1-in. cubed butternut squash

3 large onions, thinly sliced

Thyme sprigs (fresh is best, dried works fine)

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

With the thawed puff pastry, use a rolling pin to roll it out to approximately 10 by 16 inches. Carefully slice off half an inch from all sides of the rectangle, keeping the scraps as long strips. Transfer the pastry to the parchment paper. Wet your fingertips and the edge of the pastry. Reapply the scraps to their respective sides, creating a border. With a fork, pierce the inside part of the pastry, so when the puffing occurs in the oven, the unpierced border will rise around the inside and the middle will remain. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until golden. Set aside and turn the oven down to 375 Fahrenheit.

While the pastry is baking, heat a large skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onions, a pinch of salt and pepper and several thyme sprigs. Place a lid on the skillet and stir often to prevent burning. Once they begin to soften and brown, keep the lid on for another 15 minutes and continue stirring.  Take the lid off as they begin to caramelize and turn heat to low. They will take another 15-20 minutes to caramelize entirely, but believe me it is worth every minute. When complete, turn off the heat and remove the thyme sprigs, as they will have done their job by imparting their flavors during that process.

After peeling and cubing the butternut squash into 1-inch cubes, steam the squash for 5-6 minutes. This will not entirely cook the squash, but it will be in the oven again so we do not want to initially overcook it.

Once the tart has been removed from the oven and the onions are caramelized, you can begin to assemble. With a large spoon, spread the onions over the entire pastry inside, as though it were a sauce on a pizza. Next, add the butternut squash and finally, crumble the goat cheese (it is easiest when chilled) in your hand and sprinkle generously over the onions and squash. You may want to brush a small amount of olive oil over the border, to add extra sheen to the pastry before baking again. Place back into the oven for 5-7 minutes, until reheated through. Take out and cut into 8 pieces. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Risotto: I made this for a birthday dinner a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit. Besides the creaminess of risotto that everyone loves, the squash imparts a pretty orange color and adds to the rib-sticking goodness of this dish. With Parmesan cheese, this is a savory side of butternut squash I think anyone will enjoy. (Recipe adapted from, Rachel Ray)


  •  1 qt chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry, white wine
  • 2 cups cooked butternut squash
  • 1 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 7-8 sage leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano


Bring the 1-quart stock and 1 cup water to a simmer in a saucepot then reduce heat to low.

Heat a medium skillet with the olive oil over medium to heat. When oil becomes hot, add the onions and garlic. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and toast 3 minutes more. Add the wine, stirring occasionally until completely evaporated.

The risotto should take 18 minutes to fully cook so, patiently ladle the stock into the rice in intervals, allowing the liquid to evaporate each time. After approximately 15 minutes, stir the cooked squash into the rice. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper and in the last minute of cooking time, add the butter in small pieces, sage and cheese.  Enjoy!

Beating the Battle of the Holiday Bulge: You Can Do It!

By: Sara Shipley, RD-to-be and student at University of Central Oklahoma

The colder weather is finally here and that signifies the upcoming holiday season. For some people, Halloween was the kickoff and for the next two months- its one themed event after the next. If you’re like me, I have several friend’s weddings sprinkled between major holidays, so this time of year is going to be packed. Packed full of opportunities to overindulge and join the countless Americans in the average holiday weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle and according to research, on average, Americans gain 1-3 pounds during the winter holidays, every year. As activity levels plummet during the colder months, most people see an increase in weight and tightness in their clothes. And then they beat themselves up in January, making empty resolutions and paying for gym memberships that go to waste by March. I’m not being cynical- I want to help you avoid that drama before it starts! Missing out on a party with all the festive temptations doesn’t have to be your strategy to maintain your healthy regimen. You should enjoy every invite, but with the mindset of moderation. It’s about the choices you make and how those choices will make you feel that next day.

Tips for staving off holiday weight gain:

Stay active: Most people get busy and distracted with end-of-year deadlines and obligations that seem more important than their workout. Or they get lazy and want to stay in, because- hey, its cold out there and I don’t want to battle the weather for my morning run! The most important step is lacing up your shoes and getting moving. Even for 30 measly minutes, any activity is worth it. Try any or all of these ideas to keep your activity level high:

  • Signup for a race in your area.  Look for a Turkey Trot around Thanksgiving or other holiday themed races around the community. You don’t have to run, so sign up with friends or family and walk. They are usually focused on raising money for children or soldiers, so you’ll be doing yourself and someone else a favor.
  • Aim for a workout 4 days a week/at least 30 minutes and stick to it. Try an indoor, DVD series if you can’t make it outdoors. P90X is widely popular, but there are also countless options you can stream from YouTube. TaraStiles Yoga is a great site for yoga practice for any level.
  • Wear a pedometer. It may seem like a hassle but it can actually turn into a fun, little game. Once you start wearing it, you might find yourself trying to rack up the steps and beat your previous day’s count.
  • Take the stairs- at first it seems annoying to attempt 10 flights, but it works the glutes and every extra step adds up.
  • Park at the back of the lot, everywhere you go (work, grocery store, the mall, the movies…). Your car is less likely to be dinged and as mentioned before, every extra step adds up.
  • Get moving on your lunch break. A 10 minute walk will clear your head and keep you from being sedentary all day. Walk to your car and back if that’s the only opportunity you have.

Choose wisely: Holiday parties are notorious for food offerings that don’t normally sit at the table. Heavy appetizers of cheese laden fried bites are likely to be at the next party and you can expect to see all the comfort foods- scalloped potatoes, stuffing, beef chili and the list goes on. If you are invited to a friend’s thankgiving feast, you should join as the plates are passed, as you do not have to skip these dishes. But you should be mindful not to over serve yourself like it’s your last meal. Survey what is offered and make a few indulgences. Balance your plate with vegetables (not creamy, fried or buttered up). Eat lighter meals during throughout the rest of the day, but don’t entirely skip. If you head to the party famished, be aware that you’re likely to over indulge and then justify it to yourself. (More tips to come regarding smart swaps for holiday dishes!)

Drink up? : Delicious party food is customarily paired with festive drinks. And some of these drinks can clock in as heavy and alcoholic, which can negate your healthy efforts. (Hello, eggnog). After just two drinks, you could be pushing your limits on more than 500 calories without even having a bite! Not only will the alcohol leave you dehydrated, your judgment will be impaired and you may think that second round of cheesecake is a better idea than it truly is.  Skip the mixed holiday drinks and opt for a glass of heart healthy red wine or a bottle of light beer, which helps you control portions. If you feel deprived without your annual eggnog, drink up- but balance it with less dessert.

The breakdown:

  • Glass of red wine= ~125 calories
  • Light beer= ~100 calories
  • Vodka Soda with splash of light cranberry=~ 150 calories
  • Eggnog (one cup) = ~330 calories
  • Chocolate Martini= ~250 calories
  • White Russian with light cream=~800 calories (not a typo)

The numbers are quiet staggering. In fact, they’re probably skewed because as we all know, the drink is only as good as the bartender. If the bartender has a heavy hand, you may be drinking more juice than you realize!

A good reason we all enjoy the holidays is spending time with family and friends. These gatherings usually include food and drinks, but that isn’t the primary focus. Preparing your self to make healthy choices will take the stress out of holiday weight management. You don’t have to feel deprived while mindfully celebrating!

Post Workout Nutrition – what do you really need?

Are you confused about what to consume post workout? RD-to-be Sara Shipley breaks down the basics and provides excellent suggestions for post workout nutrition:

We’ve heard it all before: “You need protein after a workout!”

But why? And how much? Will two scoops of any protein powder in your morning smoothie cover all of your bases? Maybe, but here’s what else you need to know about properly refueling and repairing your muscles so you can get back to your life and get ready for tomorrow’s workout.

After strenuous activity our muscle tissue is damaged (this is normal) and our glycogen (carbohydrate stored in our muscle) is depleted. And, depending on how much fluid you consumed while exercising, you may also need to replace a good amount of fluid lost through sweat (and possibly electrolytes too). The right combination of protein, carbohydrate and fluids consumed post-workout will help your muscles recover faster with less soreness and fatigue. Here’s a breakdown on how much you should take:

Protein will help your muscles repair and build new muscle tissue (especially after a bout of resistance training). You can consume protein rich foods or sports supplements for convenience. However, you should aim for a minimum of 25 grams after resistance training (lifting weights for instance) and at least 10 grams after endurance training. If you are choosing food-based sources of protein opt for lean, high quality protein such as egg whites, skinless chicken, turkey breast, 1% cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt.

Carbohydrate is the fuel that powers your workouts. Your body’s stores of carbohydrate, in the form of glycogen, last about 2 hours (less if you are exercising very intensely). And, we now that athletic performance suffers when our carbohydrate stores become depleted. Therefore, carbs post-workout are vital to replacing glycogen stores. Aim for at least 60-75 grams or more. Bagels, pretzels and pasta are all good bets. If you aren’t hungry, try liquid carbs in the form of a sports drink or flavored milk.

Hydration and electrolytes are lost through sweat. And, drinking during your workout may seem like a no brainer, but sometimes you can’t quite makeup for your fluid losses through sweat. If your workout was intense, you need to replace electrolytes (primarily sodium) lost through sweat as well (especially if you are a salty sweater as evidenced by white salt crystals on your face, ears or neck). Sports drinks are a great way to re-hydrate or you can opt for other hydrating beverages (water, juice, milk) consumed in combination with salty foods.

Another thought to consider: post-workout inflammation. Some inflammation is good but too much inflammation may slow the recovery process. So, choose foods that may help combat inflammation including tart cherry juice (or eat cherries), mango, fresh pineapple whey protein and deeply colored fruits and vegetables.

Some of my favorite post-workout foods:

  • chocolate milk
  • eggs on a toasted whole wheat English muffin, with a sprinkle of cheese
  • cottage cheese with sliced cherry tomatoes and whole grain pretzels
  • Greek yogurt with blueberries and whole grain granola
  • soup with grilled cheese (bonus – great for replacing sodium!)
  • skinless grilled chicken and wholegrain brown rice
  • whole grain pita filled with hummus, grilled veggies and a dollop of plain yogurt, paired with a large glass of milk
  • Clif or Luna bar
  • Sports drink
  • Smoothie made with whey protein, any mix of berries, skim milk and ice (you can also add mango or pineapple)




Better for You Snacks

Several times a week I am asked about healthy snacks – what can I eat between meals to satisfy my hunger and fuel my athletic performance (or workday!). And, as Nancy Clark says, it is a good idea to think of eating a “mini-meal” vs. a snack. The word meal conjures up thoughts of whole grains, fruits, veggies and lean sources of protein whereas the word “snack” may make us think of the snack isle at the grocery store. So, fill up on smaller meals. Here are some great options from RD-to-be Sara Shipley from the University of Central Oklahoma:

  • Oatmeal with low fat milk and a spoonful of almond butter or peanut butter. Bob’s Red Mill is minimally processed and has a chewy, nutty flavor. (personally, I’m a big Quaker fan but I’ll try Bob’s one day!).
  • Greek yogurt. If you need it sweet, buy plain yogurt and drizzle a little honey on top or mix in a little bit of jam. Add granola or walnuts for crunch or or Yogi granola chips.
  • Edamame with a side of red grapes. Cook the edamame (it takes 5 minutes max and it is a great source of fiber and protein) and sprinkle a little sea salt on top. Pair it with red grapes for a sweet & salty combo.
  • Trail mix. Make it yourself or pick up a bag of healthy trail mix. If you are a DIYer, mix together an equal amount of dry roasted almonds, pumpkin seeds (great for magnesium), dried cranberries and golden raisins. Add any other nuts as desired.
  • Whole grain cereal. If you are concerned about your vitamin & mineral intake, add a little cereal to your nutrition plan. Most cereal is fortified and whole grains are a great source of antioxidants and fiber. My new fav: KIND Healthy Grains.
  • Mini toasts with goat cheese and sliced pears. Try spreading an oz or two  of soft goat cheese on several whole grain Melba toasts with thinly sliced pears for a tangy, salty, crunchy snack.
  • Guacamole (or salsa) with chips. Avocados are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats so pairing guac with whole grain chips works well (if you are worried about portions, check the individual servings of guac in some stores – I found these in Target).
  • Hummus and Sweet Bell pepper. Try slicing a red, yellow or orange pepper for a sweet flavor and pair it with hummus. Tribe original or, I love Sabra with roasted pine nuts!
  • Warm soup (many come in low sodium varieties) with 3-4 whole grain melba toasts. Try V8 butternut squash soup – great for the Fall and Winter!
  • Crackers and cheese. Kashi whole grain crackers with Laughing Cow cheese – a delicious combo!
On the Sweeter Side:
  • Graham crackers with a spoonful of ricotta. Spread the ricotta on and drizzle honey on top if you really want to up the sweet ante.
  • Jell-O Sweet Temptation French Silk chocolate pudding with a handful of raspberries (this time of year you can thaw frozen raspberries very quickly on the shelf or in the microwave).
  • Sandwich thins with a spoonful of Nutella and sprinkle of peanut butter chips. Place under the broiler for 1 minute and melt.
  • Core a red apple and place it in a microwave bowl. Cook in the microwave for 1-2 minutes to soften. Add a spoonful of peanut butter into the middle and zap again for 45 seconds. Dig in to your mini apple-peanut butter pie!
  • Kettlecorn with cinnamon and sugar (DIY) or Popcorn Indiana’s version (their holiday one drizzled with chocolate is so good!).
  • Banana frozen yogurt DIY. Add 2-3 frozen bananas (chopped) into a blender with 1/2 cup lowfat milk. Add 3/4 cup ice and blend until smooth. Add chocolate chips or granola for a topping.
  • Chopped figs with brie cheese on whole grain crackers. A little messy but it sure is good!
And there are two more I’ll add since I am frequently dashing through airports – I love KIND bars and Clif Builder Bars (and mixed nuts as well as cereal in a ziploc). Portable, easy and TSA approved!
Thanks Sara! I can’t wait to try these ideas myself!