Here Ye, Here Ye…It’s “About Time” You Try This Protein Powder!!

As a Bariatric dietitian I am always on the lookout for new and exciting, yet nutritionally sound and appropriate, products for my patients.  Therefore, when I was contacted by SDC Nutrition to request that I sample their About Time brand of whey protein powder and write a review I was ecstatic! 

The first thing that caught my eye was that their About Time whey protein powder does not contain any artificial sweetners and instead is sweetened with Stevia.  A lot of my patients do not want to use products that contain artificial sweetners what with all the controversial research about their potential detriment; this can sometimes make finding a protein powder that they enjoy difficult since the majority I have come across that meet our nutrition guidelines have sucralose, asparatame or saccharin in them.  However, the About Time whey protein  powder does meet our bariatric nutrition guidelines for protein supplements and is naturally sweetened, which is a win win for my patients!

So now the most important factor…taste.  Anything can look great nutritionally, but if it doesn’t taste good no one is going to incorporate it into their lifestyle as a staple.  I was sent three different flavors:  chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon swirl; also, I noted they have a birthday cake flavor which sounds super yummy!  Traditionally the thought is that the true taste test of protein powder is to mix it with water so that milk or some other “flavored” beverage doesn’t mask its good or bad attributes.  Thus, I mixed the vanilla whey protein, (103 cals, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of total carbohydrates and 25 grams protein) with about 10 oz. of water.  After some vigorous swirls of the spoon the powder mixed easily with the water and it was time to drink up.  I couldn’t believe how tasty the shake was…mixed with water no less!  There wasn’t a metallic or cloyingly sweet aftertaste which are often the primary issues with some protein powders. 

Although I routinely recommend whey protein shakes to my patients as meal replacements to be utilized on a limited basis, (because eating actual foods for vitamins, minerals and nutrients is best), personally I tend not to enjoy them.  Nevertheless, as someone who at times struggles with regularly eating breakfast I could see myself keeping some of the About Time whey protein powder on hand for a quick meal on the go; not only is About Time brand whey protein powder palatable, it’s good!! 🙂

Check it out and order a trial pack, (free shipping to boot!!), at

I look forward to having a new product to share with my patients…many thanks SDC Nutrition!!!


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Taking Some of My Own Medicine

Happy New Year to everyone!! Like most, I found myself over-indulging this past holiday season; whether it was a friend’s party one weekend or an office luncheon another day, I soon found I had lost my sense of structure. My routine has been inadvertently cast aside, however it is now time to seize control and take the proverbial bull by the horns. (FYI-Just because I’m a dietitian doesn’t mean I’m immune to straying from consistent healthy behaviors now and again. No one should beat themselves up over some “food mishaps,” but it is vital to firmly recommit oneself to health and eating right so as not to sacrifice one’s health.)

I have decided to practice what I preach to my patients on a daily basis…literally. I went out and purchased a fancy schmancy food scale so I can accurately weigh my protein and am using measuring cups for fruits and vegetables-4 ounces meat or ~25 grams protein per meal, up to 2 cups vegetables per meal and up to 2 pieces of fruit per day. Essentially I am following the pre-operative nutrition protocol my weight loss surgery patients follow-NO CARBS, except certain fruits and vegetables-3 meals per day with a small amount of lean protein between meals if physically hungry. Not only will this help me refocus my eating, but I now will able to better relate to my patients.

The menu today-
Breakfast: 1 cup low fat cottage cheese with an apple
Lunch: 4 ounces 97% fat free ham and 2 cups salad with 2 tablespoons light Italian dressing
Snack: 1 part skim mozzarella string cheese
Dinner: 4 ounces sweet and spicy pork tenderloin and 2 cups steamed spinach

Satisfied 🙂

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The Easy Guide to Eating Local

Guest Blog by James Kim

Eating local reduces your food’s carbon footprint while bringing fresher food to your plate. Because local food spends less time traveling from farm to market, it not only benefits the environment, it benefits your stomach too! Local produce is fresher and more nutrient rich than even organic food. While it would be nearly impossible for local food to constitute an entire balanced diet, there are easy ways to put some local food into your meal planning.

Go to a Farmers’ Market First

Before you start planning your meals, go to the farmers’ market and see what they’ve got. Start with local food and then supplement what you can’t find at the farmers’ market with organic food found at the grocery store. Usually, farmers’ markets are only open on the weekends, so plan your weekday meals around your Sunday, farmers’ market finds. Find a farmers’ market near you on the USDA website.

Find Local Food Restaurants

Do a little research and find some local food restaurants in your area. Ask farmers at farmers’ markets if they sell to any restauranteurs or check search engines like the Eat Well search to find some local food restaurants in your area.

Join a CSA

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) gives you an opportunity to get farm-fresh food delivered straight to your home weekly for a seasonal price. Find CSA farmers on the Local Harvest website. This website also provides viable information on how to choose the right CSA program/farmer for your needs.

 Preserve Local Food for the Winter

There are plenty of ways to preserve your local food. You can make a jelly or jam or even pickle some vegetables. You could also try making a freezer-friendly dish out of your local food (try a vegetable-packed lasagna, for example). To learn how to pickle or make jelly, go to the National Center for Food Preservation website.

So there you go, just a few easy and simple ways to go local. Once you start implementing these tips into your daily routine, you’ll surely never go back.

 James Kim is a writer for  Food on the Table is a company that provides online budget meal planning services.  Their goal is to help families eat better and save money.

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Healthy Summertime Cooking

When the weather begins to warm up and patio furniture is set free from storage for some outdoor reclining, there is only one other piece missing from this puzzle…backyard grilling!  Grilling is a healthy way to prepare foods since they are cooked without adding excessive amounts of unhealthy fats and oils.  An added benefit to cooking outside is that your home will be cooler as a result of not having to use your oven.

A lot of times when people think of backyard BBQs, images of  fireworks on July 4th are conjured up, thus this topic is quite apropos what with today being the 4th and all!  Unfortunately, the traditional foods that are found on the grill are not the healthiest so we need to make sure that we are choosy when it comes to our selections.  Customarily, grills are loaded with hamburgers and hot dogs which can be a nutrition nightmare; when purchasing ground meat for hamburgers, opt for ground turkey breast or 93% lean ground beef to ensure your burgers are not calorie and fat laden.  You are better off to stay away from hot dogs altogether since most  are chock-full of preservatives and fillers; instead choose chicken breast and soak  in a savory, herbed marinade for a zesty entree. 

Don’t forget about those side dishes!  Take advantage of your local seasonal produce…place some veggies in aluminum foil and toss on the grill with fresh herbs, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Dessert can be light in terms of calories, yet abundant in flavor; try mixing a variety of fruits and berries together, (i.e. raspberries, strawberries, peaches, apples, watermelon and honeydew melon), with chopped fresh mint for a refreshing and nutritious final course.  Happy 4th Everyone!!!

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Gluttony or Simply Celebrating Annual Holidays?

Recently while making a quick stop at CVS I was flabbergasted when I saw the sheer volume of Easter candy on the shelves.  Not only was one aisle overfilled with various shapes, flavors and brands of Easter themed candies, but separate displays were also abundantly stocked. 

Let me start off by saying that I love candy, probably more than the average seven year old, even though yes, I am a dietitian.  I’m not talking Lindt truffles or Godiva chocolates wrapped in a gold box, I mean sugary, sour candy, i.e. Swedish fish, Sour Patch Kids, etc.  However, aside from my sweet tooth that in my wise years I have harnessed control of, I think that the commercialization of certain holidays has peaked with regard to confections. 

Easter and Halloween are the primary holidays that come to my mind when I think of times of the year when stores are inundating themselves with candy.  I remember when I was younger and used to get so excited when I saw that stores were amping up for these holidays because I knew it meant that a boatload of sweets was coming my way.  An Easter basket that could match my stats in a boxing match or a sack of candy that I could barely manage to drag home after a night of ringing doorbells.  It was obvious in both instances that I had more candy on my hands than I needed even if portion controlled.  My mother evidently felt similarly because every year about a week and a half after said holiday, she would regretfully inform me that the ants got to my stash.  It never dawned on me that my mom was fibbing until she confessed years later, I just thought I had bad luck. 

I am by no means of the mindset that the Easter Bunny needs to be delivering cherry tomatoes to children in their Easter baskets.  However, on the other hand it isn’t necessary to overindulge children to celebrate a holiday either.  How about gifting a few individually portioned pieces of candy and then for Easter, for example, focus on making bunny themed foods as a family, i.e. carrot raisin salad, omelette with a bunny face made out of chopped veggies, etc.?  This type of attitude is a small step in the direction of reducing the seemingly ever increasing rates of childhood obesity.


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Cookin’ Right

Who doesn’t love a warm, crisp and gooey mozzarella stick generously dipped in an aromatic marinara sauce?  How about a tender and juicy boneless buffalo tender with a hearty slathering of blue cheese dressing?  Or one of my all-time favorites:  a thickly sliced beer battered onion ring smothered in a horseradish dipping sauce?  These foods all share a primary trait which contributes to their mass appeal to consumers:  FRIED.  Tastiest when fresh out of the fryer…and then the question that inevitably haunts many of us post-consumption:  “Why did I eat that?”

Duuuuuh, we eat fried foods and a whole host of other unhealthy items because they TASTE GOOD!  Unfortunately, if we eat based solely on what we “want/crave” versus what we “need” we end up in not the healthiest of states.  Therefore, the majority of the time we need to eat with our heads and not just our eyes, as well as employ nutritionally sound cooking methods.  So, what do we do??? 

Crunch without the fat and flavor minus the guilt = baking or sauteing minus the fat.  Let’s be realistic here:  if I put a fried french fry next to a baked french fry I’m sure most people could discern the difference.  However, the point here is not to create an exact replica of the original, but to enjoy a palatable and savory substitute that is heart healthy.  Since I’m a fan of the  previously mentioned violators of the health commandments, if you will, these are some of the variations I have tried and had success with:

*Purchase low-fat string cheese, dip in eggbeaters, roll in seasoned breadcrumbs.  Spray a non-stick pan with Pam Olive Oil spray and quickly crisp on all sides so that cheese is warm and melty, but not a pool of melted cheese 🙂 (*NOTE* even if they do melt too much, they’re yummy)

*Toast some whole grain bread, spritz with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray and then rub a fresh garlic clove over the top for a healthier version of garlic bread! (*NOTE* for cheesy garlic bread, strip a few strings off a low fat string cheese, lay them over the top of the bread and toast until cheese is melted)

*Cut sweet potatoes into wedges and bake for about 30 minutes on 400 degrees F until crisp; as soon as they come out of the oven sprinkle with sea salt, cayenne pepper and cinnamon

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Are Carbs More Addictive Than Cocaine

The title of this blog immediately came into my head once I read the name of this article, “Are Carbs More Addictive Than Cocaine?”, when I was scouring the internet for some nutrition related pieces.  I read this article with vigor and relish because I aim to instill a similar mantra in my patients.  As a dietitian working with patients seeking bariatric surgery and then following them post-operatively, from the initial consultation I am trying to make a lasting impression regarding the damage that carbs are capable of. 

The reactions of pre-operative patients sitting across from my desk are pretty much the same when discussing the importance of eliminating carbs, i.e. bread, pasta, potato, rice, chips, crackers, sweets, etc.  Horror stricken faces stare back at me at which time I try to alleviate their worries about letting go of their staple foods.  I think what we have to understand is that if everyone could eat all foods in moderation then obesity would not be an issue, however people eat for many more reasons other than physical hunger.  Thus, it makes perfect sense that people in such situations would mourn the loss of these foods. 

The reasons behind my emphasis on carb elimination to my bariatric patients are two-fold.  Eating lean protein first to provide long lasting satiation is of utmost importance, and we must remember that the carbs noted above are not imperative  for providing essential nutrients.  However, these same carbs are the types people struggle with in terms of portion control and becoming the foundations of their intake. The more frequently these types of foods are consumed the more the body will crave them, therefore they become addicting.  Eliminating these foods from one’s daily regimen is necessary so that the body will eventually stop craving them, helping people to maintain a healthy way of eating.  Reintroducing small amounts of said carbs, even in minute amounts, is a slippery slope for my patients since these foods are part of the reason they came to see me in the first place.  I strive to truly hit home with my patients that their quality of life, health and longevity are what should be focused on vs. when will they next be able to eat bread, pretzels, or a bag of Baked Lays.

The article that is abovementioned and inspired me to write this blog drives home the point about carbs that I talk about on a daily basis and I hope that as many people as possible read it and take it to heart.

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A Getaway Indeed!!!

A couple of weekends ago my fiancee and I celebrated my birthday/Valentine’s Day all rolled into one by going to the Essex Culinary Resort & Spa in Essex Junction, Vermont,  I thought it was going to be quite the arduous hike, but it turned out to be about a three hour ride with lots of breathtaking mountain views, thus making the ride quite enjoyable.  When we entered the lobby to check-in, we happened upon a dessert case selling individual sweet treats prepared by the resident chefs.  From chocolate flourless cakes to lemon raspberry cheesecakes, we couldn’t help but purchase a couple to sample after dinner.  Opening the door of the room to unload the luggage brought an immediate smile to my face.  We had a separate kitchenette and living room area from the bedroom with quaint furniture, including a rocking chair with an electric wood stove and a whirlpool in the bathroom…perfection!

We decided to indulge in room service for the  first night since we desired to immerse ourselves fully and completely into relaxation mode.  Nothing could’ve been more satisfying and comforting than the BBQ meatloaf with Cabot Cheddar cheese and braised brussel sprouts in front of the wood stove with a chilled bottle of Riesling.  After a brief bout of digestion, we had our scrumptious desserts and called it a night.

The following morning we awoke somewhat early to sun streaming in the windows and a mild temperature of 50 degrees F.  Feeling refreshed we headed to the Tavern Restaurant, which was where we had had room service the night before, and settled in for breakfast.  I couldn’t help but indulge in the corned beef hash scramble, (and I did need the extra energy for snowshoeing after breakfast :-), which was quite tasty.  After breakfast we strapped on our snowshoes and headed out for some fun; it was perfect weather and we truly enjoyed the scenery, plus as an added bonus the steep hills made us flex our calf and thigh muscles for a productive workout!

After exploring Burlington and the surrounding areas for the afternoon, we headed back to the resort to get ready for our couples cooking class.  We, along with five other couples, prepared a three course menu under the supervision/direction of one of the cooking academy’s chef instructors.  We were feeling a little anxious as the cooking class approached because we weren’t sure how it would play out and hoped that the other couples were fun 🙂  Well, we definitely lucked out because we had a grand ol’ time, sipping on wine and cooking up a storm…and our food was fantastic,-Warm Vermont Blue Cheese Souffle; Banyuls Vinegar dressed Salad Greens; Steak au Poivre with Truffle Potatoes and Garlicky Haricots Verts, and Hazelnut Lava Cake with Pomegranate Molasses and House Made Ice Cream.

For anyone seeking an escape from the toil of their daily lives, the Essex Culinary Resort & Spa is for you!

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Worcester’s Best Chef Competition from a Chef RD Perspective

Yes I’m a Registered Dietitian, but more importantly I consider myself a foodie.  Please don’t mistake “foodie” for “food snob;” sure I enjoy a fancy night out with a multi-course meal and wine pairings, however I equally relish a good ol’ bag of soft and chewy Sour Patch Kids while watching judge shows in my pajamas.  *NOTE* Of course the previously mentioned behavior is done in moderation 🙂  With this being said, I was quite excited when I had the opportunity to purchase tickets for myself and my better half to attend Worcester’s Best Chef Competition this past Sunday.  Thirty local restaurants set up stations showcasing their talents through small plates so that attendees could sample the dishes presented and vote for a favorite to win the People’s Choice Award.

I loved the concept:  tastes of a wide variety of cuisines and flavor profiles, ranging from smoked beef brisket garnished with pickled cabbage atop grits with a red onion gravy to pumpkin ravioli with fried sage.  Savory by far outnumbered sweet at this soiree, which was slightly disappointing since the one true dessert (aside from the two fresh fruit and fondue stations) was bland.

The dietitian in me was a big fan of the concept of “mini portions,” similar to tapas served at Spanish restaurants.  I think this presentation style is a great way for people to taste various dishes in a sensible, portion controlled fashion.  Sharing and sampling with a table of friends is additonally beneficial because it eliminates the excesses typically found in “single serve” entrees nowadays, which can lead to overeating. 

The “chef” part of me was a little more critical regarding the preparation details of some of the dishes.  Maybe I’ve been watching too much Top Chef or my Culinary Arts education was getting the best of me, but I found myself commenting about the need for uniform cuts and how apples should’ve been peeled so that patrons weren’t chomping away on apple skin.  I know that Tom and Padma would agree with me too!

Overall, we had a lot of fun walking around, trying different foods and interacting with the chefs.  Plus, we were happy that the dish we voted for won Best Chef!

Click here to visit the official website for Worcester’s Best Chef Competition.

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Flavors Meld and a Masterpiece is Made…All While You’re at Work!

Crock pots, slow cookers, you say tomato I say ta-ma-to.  Different words, but the same idea: tossing protein, veggies and seasonings into an electric cooking vessel and simmering for hours so the result is a tender, comforting meal that doesn’t require babysitting.  Once thought of as a fad to most, these time savers are definitely making a comeback to the kitchen.  With many households having two parents working outside of the home and families constantly on the go with after school activities, the crock pot is a perfect solution for getting a home cooked meal on the table!

The advantage of being able to “set it and forget it,” as was the tag line for Ron Popeil’s rotisserie oven, is what truly makes the crock pot so easy to work with.  Additionally, less expensive cuts of meat (i.e. stew meat, short ribs, pork shoulder, chicken thighs) turn out moist and tender after a handful of hours of cooking.  Making meals in a crock pot is a great example of batch cooking so that you’re able to make a large quantity at one time and then freeze the remaining portions.

There are numerous crock pot recipes available on the internet that you can search simply by typing in “healthy crock pot recipes” in your favorite search engine.  On the other hand you can always wing it, i.e. throw some chicken breasts, salsa, black beans in a crock pot and cook until chicken is 165 degrees F and falling apart.  Go out and purchase a crock pot, or better yet raid your mom’s cabinets, brush the dust off the lid and head home with a new cooking treasure!

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