How to Properly Sanitize Produce and Groceries

I know everyone is concerned with making sure they don’t get the Coronavirus.  And some people are worried about getting it from their food at the grocery store (or take-out).  I’m here to teach how to properly clean your groceries to reduce your risk of getting any kind of germ from the store.  (All of this is backed by the latest research, by the way.)

  • To wash your fruits and vegetables, rub them under running water in the sink.  The action of rubbing is what removes dirt, bacteria, and viruses from the skin.  Do the same for fruits and vegetables that you don’t eat the skin (watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, etc.).  For small fruits, like berries, wash them under running water in a colander or you can submerge in water and swish them around.  This is also a good technique for leafy greens.  After submerging in water and shaking, rinse them off.   
  • Do not use soap to wash your fruits and vegetables.  Using soap is not necessary to clean your produce and the residue may even upset your stomach.
  • You will not get sick from eating fruits and vegetables and so they do not need to be “sanitized.”  The COVID-19 virus is not transferred from food.  Let’s just say that somehow some virus got on your fruit from someone else in the grocery store (which probably won’t happen).  There will not be enough of the virus on your fruit to make you sick.  The virus is spread by close contact with infected people.
  • Bottom-line: The absolute best prevention is to wash your fruits and vegetables with running water while rubbing them with your hands to wipe off any dirt and germs.
  • As for your other groceries, there is no need to wipe down these foods, even if you are immune-comprised.  Again, the virus does not live on these items and even if it did, there is not enough to infect you.  If you insist on being 100% sure, then leave them in the garage or outside (if they are non-perishable) for 24 hrs.  Research has found that heat and humidity kill the virus.
  • Bottom-line, please don’t stress about your food and waste your time on sanitizing with bleach solutions.  The best thing you can do is wash your hands.  There is no better way to keep you healthy than to wash your hands after coming home from the grocery store, after putting your groceries away, before preparing food, and before eating. 

I hope you are all enduring this pandemic well.  I want to remind you that I and my other dietitians are here for you.  To schedule your telehealth session from the comfort of your own home or office, please click here.  We are here to help you navigate your new normal and how to adapt your eating and exercise routines.

How to Avoid the Quarantine-15 (aka How to NOT gain weight while stuck at home)

I know you’ve seen them: the memes about how much weight we are going to gain while stuck at home, the pictures of food all over social media, comfort-eating, and baking galore. How else can we release some energy while stuck at home?  Cleaning out our closets is no fun.  And you can only take so much news.  My clients are starting to ask, “How can I stop gaining weight?”  

Step 1: Have a plan.  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  If you just plan to eat whatever you have around, it might not the best thing for your body.  But if you have a loose plan, then you will most likely go for the planned meal.  I try to have a list of about 7 dinners that we have all the ingredients to make.  That way when dinner comes we are not tempted to order take-out.  Having a plan also keeps you from making more frequent runs to the grocery store.

Step 2: Designate only one area in your house for eating.  If eating locations become a free-for-all, you might start finding crumbs in your laptop, on your couch, and in your bed.  Limit eating to just the kitchen or dining room table and you will eliminate a lot of mindless eating.

Step 3: Make a list of positive things to do when you want to reach for food and are not hungry.  Now that you are working from home, do you find yourself drawn to the kitchen when you need a break or are bored?  You’re not alone.  Everyone does it!  Instead, keep a list on your fridge or pantry door with other enjoyable tasks.  Here are some examples: go outside for fresh air, stretch, call a friend, write in your journal, put on your favorite music, work on a hobby, write a letter or card, play a game, pray, meditate, do something creative, clean out a drawer, organize your files, etc. 

Step 4: Set regular meal and snack times.  Make a realistic eating schedule for everyone in the family.  After each meal or snack, clean up, turn the lights off, and “close” the kitchen until the next meal or snack.  With children of various ages, this is a work in progress for me.  But I’m trying.

Step 5: Embrace it.  You know what, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you gain some weight over the next few months? We are all going through an experience we’ve never been in.  It’s OK if you eat more than usual, stress-eat, or boredom-eat.  This is a learning experience.  Be patient and compassionate with yourself.  Take it one day at a time (one bite at a time) and you’ll get through this.  Give yourself a hug and keep this in perspective.  There are a million things worse than gaining weight.

We are OPEN and happily seeing clients virtually!  All insurance companies have temporarily allowed telehealth and we are so pleased to be able to still meet with our clients and help you through this difficult time.  Go here to become a new client.  Or, if you are a returning client, go here to schedule an appointment.  I look forward to “seeing” you from the comfort of your home or office.  We are here for you. 

How to Boost your Immunity (the REAL Way)

Of course, everyone is anxious about getting sick right now, thanks to the coronavirus.  My clients have started asking me what they can do to keep their immune system in top shape.   Your immune system is an amazing and complex microorganism-fighting machine.  It defends your body from harmful virus and bacteria that enter your body through mouth or nose.  Because it is so complex and involves other systems in your body, there is no guaranteed way to ensure that some microorganisms won’t get past your defenses and cause a cold, virus, or infection.  However, you certainly can do some basic things every day to give it the best shot possible.  There is no magic bullet on this list (sorry).  There is no strange concoction of herbs and fruits mixed together in a drink (thank goodness).  Or no pill you can take (save your money for more exciting things). It’s the basic (sometimes boring) things that will give us the best chances:

  • Get enough sleep.  Your body cannot fight off sickness if it is tired and weak.  Make sleep a top priority.  The recommendation is 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  (To learn more about sleep, attend my Masters Group class on May 12th or May 14th: The Healing Power of Sleep).
  • Take a multivitamin as “insurance” if you eat very few fruits and vegetables.  Don’t waste your money on super- or mega-vitamins.  The extra vitamins and minerals don’t provide extra benefits.  A simple, multi-vitamin and mineral supplement is all you need.  Make sure it is certified by an independent lab or you might be wasting your money.  (If you need a good one, I offer Opurity vitamins in my office.)
  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating and preparing food.
  • Eat yogurt with live and active cultures daily.  The probiotics in yogurt feed your immune system.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  Make sure to get a variety of colors to ensure you are eating a wide range of immune-boosting nutrients.
  • Reduce stress by taking on less projects and tasks, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, meditation, or prayer.  (I’ll be teaching about this at Masters Group on July 12th and July 14th: Implementing Mindfulness into your Busy Life.)
  • Eat protein with each meal to meet your minimum recommendation of 0.35 grams x your body weight.  Protein is found in dairy foods, meat, seafood, nuts, beans, and tofu.
  • Don’t age.  (I had to throw this one in there.)  The older you get, the weaker your immune system becomes.  There is nothing we can do about that, though.

By following these steps as best as you can, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your immune system performing at its best. 

If you’ve got nutrition concerns or questions, apply to become a client with one of our highly knowledgeable dietitians here.

Easy, Healthy Weeknight Dinner: Sheet Pan Potatoes, Sausage, and Vegetables

Easy, Healthy Weeknight Dinner: Sheet Pan Potatoes, Sausage, and Vegetables

Here is one my family’s new favorite dinners: Potatoes, Sausage, and Vegetables roasted on a sheet pan. 

Why I love it:

  • Versatile
  • One dish meal
  • Can use leftovers
  • Inexpensive
  • Super tasty!
  • Everyone loves it (one of the few meals we all love)

Here’s how to do it:

Wash and cut into bite-size pieces your favorite potatoes and vegetables (white potatoes, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, green peppers, red peppers, broccoli, asparagus, onions, etc.). Toss the potatoes and vegetables with olive oil in a large bowl.  Spray a sheet pan with non-stick spray.  Spread vegetables and potatoes evenly on the pan.  Sprinkle your favorite seasonings on top: kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc. Dice your favorite sausage (deer sausage, chicken sausage, pork sausage, etc.) into bite-size pieces and sprinkle over the vegetables.  Roast in the oven at 425 degrees until the potatoes are soft.  Serve with fruit and a glass of milk on the side.   Yum!

Please share: What’s your favorite easy dinner?

You can eat what you love and still be healthy!

You can eat what you love and still be healthy!

“This is my mom and she loves chocolate”

A few months ago I was outside with my 2 youngest daughters and we started talking to someone walking by.  My little ones were probably enthralled with the person’s dog.  But anyway, out of the blue, my 3-year-old said, “This is my mom and she loves chocolate.”  I started laughing at the randomness of this comment and have thought a lot about it since. Yes, both statements are true.  I am her mom and I do love chocolate. 

Why do I bring this up?  Because I think many people have the misconception that my being a dietitian means that I don’t eat sweets and only eat healthy foods.  Some people think my kids never eat junk food and we must not have any candy or chips in my house.  This is not true!  I want to write about this today so you can see that I am just like you…I love chocolate and my husband loves chips.  I have kids that love junk food and candy (and they like some vegetables and nutritious foods too). I crave desserts just like you and want chocolate when I’m stressed out.  At various times in my life I have worried about my weight and health and been on both sides of the dieting spectrum.  I know what it’s like to hate your body and I know what it’s like to love your body.  And not only have I been through it, I’ve seen hundreds of my clients go through it as well.

I am here to share with you today, that you can break through whatever bad eating habits you have, poor body image, dieting scars, etc.  You can find the middle ground between health and “eating whatever you want.”  I’ve done it, my clients are doing it, and you can too.  It feels so amazing to feel comfortable in your own skin, to eat nutritious foods most of the time, and include the sweets/treats/junk foods a little of the time.  It’s so rewarding to go to the doctor and get a good report on blood work, realizing that you can do it!  You don’t have to be in the gym for 2 hours every day (but it’s OK if you like that) and eat only chicken breast and broccoli (it’s OK if you like that too).  There is way more to life than just that!  We can love chocolate (or French fries, or chips, or anything else) and still feel good in our bodies, be healthy, and live well.  

Will you give me a chance to show you that eating what you love AND meeting your health goals is possible for you too?  Simply comment on this post and I will put you on my waiting list for new clients. 

Websites for healthy, nutritious and easy recipes

I don’t know about you, but I am easily overwhelmed by the amount of recipes on the internet.  Really, I have a love-hate relationship with recipe searches.  I LOVE being able to find any recipe I can think of and many that I never thought of.  I HATE that there are so many options and I have no idea which version of the recipe is going to taste the best.  That’s why I have stopped doing general recipe searches and now just go straight to my go-to sources.  It frees up my time by not scrolling through 20 versions of Asian Chicken, for example, and makes me feel so much more confident when I have a website or two that I can trust.  I wanted to share one of those sources with you today:

www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov

These are the reasons I love this website:

  • You can search by ingredient
  • You can search by food group or type of dish
  • You can save recipes into your “cookbook”
  • You can view recipe books
  • You can print your recipe book
  • You can view recipe demos
  • You can refine your search by cost, cuisine, diet, and cooking method

With all of these options, what’s not to love about USDA’s What’s Cooking? Best of all, is it saves me time by going to only one place when I’m making my weekly menu.

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Please share: what is your favorite website for recipes?