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So if you didn’t notice yet, I have a lot of vegan and vegetarian clients and today’s blog post is thanks to one of them…

Vegans and Vegetarian’s (and pre-menopausal Ladies in general) have to be sure to get enough Iron in their diet.  Now that can be easy if you eat a lot of beans and leafy greens but you also have to careful to maximize absorption (or how much iron your body actually takes in)….

Here is the deal with Iron & Absorption:

  • Iron from meat, poultry, and fish (i.e., heme iron) is absorbed two to three times more efficiently than iron from plants (i.e., non-heme iron).
  •  Vitamin C enhances non-heme iron absorption when eaten at the same meal.
  • Calcium in dairy or fortified non-dairy milk decreases absorption of both heme/non-heme iron.
  • Iron absorption is also inhibited/decreased by polyphenols, phytates.

— Polyphenols (phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins) are found in coffee, tea, cocoa and red wine and when consumed in high amounts, may lead to decreased iron absorption.

— Phytates are in grains/legumes. Soaking, sprouting, leavening, and fermenting whole grains render the iron more bioavailable by degrading the phytates.

— Soy also has Phytic acid and can decrease iron absorption

So whats a girl to do?

Try to increase your Iron Sources and eat them WItH Vitamin C sources. Eg. Spinach with Red Bell Peppers, Fortified Cereal with Strawberries and almond milk.

Use an iron skillet– you actually get some of that iron into your food!  Especially with longer cooking times, frequent stirring and a newer skillet.

Avoid eating your iron-rich foods at the same time as your coffee/tea/red wine or dairy (or calcium supplement).

Here is a link to sources of both Iron & Vit C and here is a link especially for the vegetarians/vegans that has a nice list of plant sources of iron:

Also talk to your doctor about your latest blood labs and they can  tell you if your labs are looking anemic or low in iron.

I have been in a Frittata Frenzy as of late….using up summer’s bounty of greens and veggies and throwing in scraps of cheese to make easy delicious portable food for picnics, potlucks, brunch luand any meal in between.

Here is one easy and adaptable recipe I love from my neighbor the great Alice Waters. I like to cook the frittata on the stove top until the bottom is set and then finish it in the oven but here she cook the whole thing on the stove top. Don’t forget to try ANY cooked veggies as a filling and get creative with other spices, cheeses etc that you can add in.

Chard Frittata Recipe

from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Wash and separate the stems from 1 bunch of chard
Cut the stems into 1/4-inch slices. Coarsely chop the leaves.
Heat in a heavy pan, over medium heat:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Add:
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
Cook for 5 minutes and add the chard stems. Season with salt.
Cook for 4 minutes and add the leaves. Cook until the leaves are
tender, adding a splash of water if the pan dries out. Turn out of the
pan onto a plate. Crack into a large bowl:
6 eggs
Add:
Salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
Fresh-ground black pepper
A pinch of cayenne
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Beat lightly. Gently squeeze the chard with your hands, wringing out most, but not all, of the liquid. Stir the chard into the beaten eggs.
Thoroughly preheat a 10-inch heavy or nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Pour in:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
After a few seconds, pour in the egg mixture. As the eggs set on the bottom, lift the edges to allow the uncooked egg to flow underneath.
Continue to cook until mostly set. Invert a plate on top of the pan; turn the plate and pan upside down to turn out the frittata onto the
plate. Pour in 1 teaspoon olive oil. Slide the frittata back into the pan. Cook for 2 or 3 more minutes. Slide onto a plate and serve warm
or at room temperature.
(or you can stick the pan in the oven for a few minutes instead of
flipping it onto a plate to set the middle)

Taking a long road trip this summer or flying to Europe?  Here are some handy healthy snacks ideas to make sure you don’t give-in to the Cinnabon at the airport (880 kcals for the classic!) or Doritos at the gas station…and of course bring a refillable water bottle wherever you go too!

I also like to travel with my own herbal tea bags for the decadent taste of home (decaf chai for me please).

Non-Perishable Suggestions:

• Energy bars: Make your own or look for low sugar (<10g),high fiber(>3g). A few brands to try: Kind bar, Larabar, Kashi, FiberOne or Luna/Cliff bar.

• Plain or low sodium almonds, peanuts, cashews, soy nuts, mixed nuts, etc without added oils. Keep servings to a small snack sized baggie (pre-make several as necessary).

• Dried fruit (mix with nuts for a protein boost)

• Pistachio seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds with shells- this will keep your hands busy (bring an extra baggie for empty shells)

• Trail mix- homemade or from the store, keep the serving to a snack sized baggie

• Canned fruit (in water not syrup and remember to bring a spoon!)

• Instant oatmeal packets (low sugar ideally). Top with handful of nuts for an extra protein boost and/or dried fruit for added sweetness.

• Peanut, almond or apple butter with whole grain crackers ( like Akmak or Wasa). I like Justin’s single serve nut butter

• Air popped popcorn  or microwave popcorn (look for low fat, “natural” brands”)

• Brown Rice cakes;flavored (sweet or savory) or plain and spread with peanut, almond, nut butter.

Perishable Suggestions (pack a soft cooler bag with a ice-pack):

• Low fat string cheese or wedge cheese and whole grain crackers

• Apple slices with snack sized packets or containers of nut butter

• Mini Pita and hummus sandwiches-add lettuce and tomato too or eat with baby carrots

• Mini or scooped bagel. Spread with light cream cheese, cottage cheese or peanut butter and whole fruit low sugar jam.

• PBJ on whole wheat bread (>3g fiber per slice)

• 6 oz low fat yogurts, I like greek yogurts in the lowest sugar flavor possible or plain with berries.

• Protein roll ups-roll up turkey, roast beef or light cheese, wrap and pack in plastic

•  Hard boiled eggs

•  Cut up veggies with low fat dip (you can find this prepackaged in many local supermarkets)

• Hummus with cut up veggies, pretzels or pita chips

• Unshelled edamame (Trader Joes sells these fresh or find them in the freezer section and thaw on the road

• Homemade low sugar whole wheat fruit muffins

This isn’t my normal nutrition post but I just had to share my DC adventures since they were so inspiring and made me get psyched about my electoral voice!

Two weeks ago today, I had my first visit to “The Hill” in Washington, DC as  I was awarded a stipend to travel to DC for PPW 2012 by the Bay Area Dietetics Association (BADA) board, on which I sit  as a Community Co-Chair.  The “Public Policy Workshop” (PPW) is a yearly event put on by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetics Association) in conjunction with their full time public policy Washington staff and dietitian representatives from all 50 states.

The workshop consisted of two FULL days of training where we learned everything from your “elevator pitch” (who are you and what you want in 1 minute), the ins-and-outs of having a voice in politics (and various levels and ways to do so) and the importance of wearing patriotic socks (might pass on that one) to important issues around government spending priorities (prevention is a big buzz word finally) and how First Lady Michelle Obama has inspired and supported cities like Austin and New York to start “Lets’ Move” campaigns.

The third day, a Tuesday morning, we went to the hill and with RD’s from our region (Go California!) pitched our support for two of the four pieces of legislature that were our given priorities:

1) The Farm Bill (or “The Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill” as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak urged us to call it in his Keynote address)- and ensuring that the SNAP (food stamp program) and SNAP-ED (Nutrition education) programs are funded adequately as well as Agricultural/Nutrition research, the TEFAP program (food banks), the commodity food program ( CSFP– remember those cans of peanut butter at school or camp?), the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program (FFVP) at schools and the Senior Farmer’s Market program (cool!).  Key message here was empowering consumers with nutrition education (!) and ensuring access to healthy safe foods.

2) The Older Americans Act (OAA)- pass this bill currently stalled in Congress (and develop a bill for the House) and include language that supports having nutrition professionals (RD’s) at all levels (local, state, federal) of the “aging network” to ensure cost-effective nutrition services and evidence-based results.

3) Prevention Diabetes in Medicare Act (H.R. 2741)-  support or sponsor this bill to cover lifestyle intervention that include dietary changes (that’s my job) by RD’s for Medicare recipients who have pre-diabetes (vs only those with WITH diabetes as that and CKD are currently the only diagnoses covered by Medicare).  Almost 1 in 10 have Diabetes but almost 4 in 10 have pre-diabetes.  Studies show that 50-70% of Medicare participants with pre-diabetes can avoid diabetes with lifestyle interventions.

4) Drug Shortage Prevention Act (H.R. 3839)- support this bill as well as H.R. 2245 and Senate bill S 296 to help curtail and prevent the drug shortage phenomena that has been taking place more frequently since 2012 and puts patients across this nation at risk.  RD’s, pharmacists and doctors are all unable to do their jobs fully when drugs, vitamins and minerals are taken off the market or under-produced due to low profit margins or other reasons.

Coming off my three meetings with Congresswoman Barbara Lee (I met with her people all alone!), Senator Diane Feinstein, and Senator Barbara Boxer, I felt powerful and that my voice was heard, our opinions mattered.  What a great feeling.  Later that evening I even got an email from the young man I met with at Lee’s office, letting me know she would support one of the bills I spoke especially passionately about (#3 above)- awesome!

Want to feel heard?

If you are a Dietitian, you can speak up around these issues and/0r others that you feel passionate about.  A great resource is the Grass Roots Manager section of the eatright.org website , or join and get involved with the Political Action Commitee (ANDPAC).

Just a regular joe? Check out House.gov to find/write your representatives or go to the user-friendly gov.track.us or the dense Library of Congress Thomas site to follow a specific bill or see what is being voted on this week…

Thanks for listening! And yes– I did have a fun Vegan shawarma sandwich while in DC, check out a recipe here… Now go be a voice yourself…

This crunchy carrot cake is light and lovely and since its wheat/gluten-free it is Kosher for Passover!

For best results, wrap the cake tightly in plastic after it cools and serve it the next day. It will keep for five days in the refrigerator if wrapped airtight.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (1/2 pound) unsalted toasted almonds
1/4 cup raw brown (turbinado) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
4 large eggs
1/3 cup organic white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated carrots (about 10 ounces or 3-4 large carrots)*
*It’s important to grate the carrots on the fine holes of your grater, or else they’ll remain too crunchy.

Directions:

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch pan, (ideally springform lined with parchment).

2. Combine the almonds & brown sugar in a food processor and blend until almonds are finely ground. Add the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & lemon zest, and pulse together.

3. Beat the eggs until thick in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with an electric beater. Add white sugar, continue to beat until the mixture is thick and forms a ribbon when lifted from the bowl with a spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Add the almond mixture and the carrots in three alternating additions, and slowly beat or fold in each time.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place in the oven, and bake one hour until firm to the touch and beginning to pull away from the pan. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and carefully remove from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic.

Yield: Serves 10 to 12.

.

Nutritional information per serving (10 servings): 209 calories; 13 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 85 grams cholesterol; 18 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 135 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 7 grams protein

Recipe from the New York Times by Martha Rose Shulman.

Print a copy here (or in resources).

I love working with folks around food choices, exercise goals and weight loss and most often what we talk about is behavior change.  It starts like this…

“I want to lose 20 lbs”

“I want to eat better”

“I want to avoid diabetes since it runs in my family”

And then comes the hard part– how to get there…

So often we want to make HUGE commitments (think of your last New Year’s Resolutions) but it turns out that small change over time works best.  Setting small goals that are measurable and realistic = Bite sized behavior change!

So instead of saying “I want to lose 10 pounds”, try “I will only eat dessert once a week” or “I will walk 10 minutes at lunch every day”.

Dr. BJ Fogg from Stanford’s Persuasive Tech Lab agrees and in fact has started a program based on tiny habits and counters the argument that change happens with “will power” and instead encourages people to make it as easy as possible by setting up your environment to promote the new behavior and attach your new “habit” to one that already exists (eg. brushing your teeth, eating a meal etc).

I love his website which you can sign up for free and pick your own 3 tiny habits to work on.

What tiny habits would you like to add to your life?

Image

Photo by zole4

I taught this to my “Healthy Living” class last month as a way to show off the gorgeous Butter Lettuce they were growing in their Community Garden.

I love the idea of wrapping up all sorts of yummyness in a crunchy green leaf of lettuce (or cabbage) and you can either serve these as finger food at a party, serve as an appetizer or pack up a few for lunch.

Lettuce Wraps with Shiitake Mushrooms

lettucewraps_png

Ingredients

Makes 4 servings

1 8 oz. package ready-to-eat, seasoned tofu (Soy Boy’s Tofu Lin works well)
salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, to taste
soy sauce to taste
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped
bean sprouts
carrot cut into fine strips
1 head lettuce, use large leaves
1/2 lemon

Directions

Stir fry chopped garlic, ginger and carrot with some water in wok for a few minutes until soft.

Add the shiitakes, soy sauce, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Cook about another 5-10 minutes, then add the dried tofu and finish up the cooking, about 2-5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the lettuce/cabbage leaves, add a few drops of lemon juice, and roll them up!

Recipe from PCRM