Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

This Versatile Food Could Cut Your Calories by Two-Thirds

As some of you already know, the southeastern part of South Carolina (including Charleston, Beaufort, and Hilton Head) is known as the Low Country. The Low Country is known for its beaches, golf and our favorite local food, shrimp. If you  have seen Forrest Gump, you  know that shrimp is an incredibly versatile food. Shrimp is not only popular in the Low Country; it has been, since 2001, the most consumed seafood in the United States. But is shrimp as good for you as it tastes?

In a recent article in the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter,  Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, Director of the HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University, commented that it can be. “Shrimp is a lean source of high quality protein”. It is relatively low in calories and extremely low in saturated fat.

If you were to substitute shrimp for the equivalent amount of steak or cheese you would cut your calories by almost two thirds and your saturated fat by more than 90%. It is also very low in mercury making it appropriate for pregnant woman and children.

Unfortunately, because of its low total fat content, it is also low in healthy Omega 3 fats.

Historically, the biggest concern about shrimp has been its relatively high content of dietary cholesterol. With almost 110 milligrams per 3 ounce serving, shrimp is twice as high in cholesterol than steak. Fortunately, researchers now know that blood cholesterol is influenced to a much greater degree by saturated fat than the cholesterol in food. So including shrimp regularly, especially if substituted for higher saturated fat foods, would be a good thing. The American Heart Association recommends anyone with high LDL cholesterol and taking cholesterol lowering medications, should limit their dietary cholesterol to 200 milligrams per day.

Of course another major influence on the health impact of shrimp is how it is prepared. They can be boiled, steamed, grilled, baked or sautéed. Click here for some of our shrimp recipes. Lichtenstein recommends they are best when added to a stir fry with lots of veggies, or to a lightly dressed salad rather than to cream sauce based dishes. Although very popular, breading and deep frying turns shrimp into high calorie junk food.

More than 90% of the shrimp consumed in the US is imported. Due to different standards in different countries, there is a concern that some of the shrimp may be less safe for consumers and methods used in harvesting them may create some environment concerns. The Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter suggests that if you are concerned about buying shrimp that is good for you and the environment, you should follow these recommendations from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Shrimp safe for purchase are:

  • Black tiger shrimp (Southeast Asia, especially CaMau, Vietnam, farmed using Selva Shrimp criteria – but not other imported black tiger or tiger shrimp.)
  • Freshwater prawns (US farmed)
  • Pink shrimp (Oregon, wild-caught)
  • Pacific or West Coast white shrimp (US farmed in fully  recirculation systems of inland ponds)
  • Spot Prawns (Canadian Pacific, wild caught)
  • Wild caught Northern or Bay shrimp (from the Atlantic)
  • Spot prawns (Canadian Pacific, wild-caught)
  • Gulf Shrimp (which may be marketed as Brown, Pink, White, Rock or Ebi Shrimp)
  • Shrimp from Thailand (farmed in fully circulating systems.)



iStock 000005363958XSmall 300x225 THE BEST FOODS YOU AREN’T EATING

It can be easy to eat the same foods day after day.  Let’s face it—most of us want a simple meal plan that requires as minimal preparation as possible.  We like quick meals with as few ingredients as possible.  However, there are specific foods or ingredients that most of us neglect because we either don’t know what to do with them or we’ve only had them prepared by our grandmothers.  It is time to get creative, think outside the box, and incorporate some highly nutritious foods that give your go-to recipes a huge flavor boost.  The following foods and ingredients are literally the BEST foods you aren’t eating:

  1. Different varieties of fruits and vegetables.  Have you ever tried broccoli rabe or purple potatoes?  What about dried goji berries?  Most of us recognize the benefits of fruits and vegetables:  high fiber, high water content, loaded with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, E, K, potassium, folate, etc.   Try incorporating different varieties of fruits and vegetables that you recognize.  They provide similar nutrients, but a different texture and flavor profile.
  2. Beets.  It’s time to turn up the beat in your kitchen by using purple and yellow beets in your regular meal plan.  Beets provide high amounts of naturally occurring nitrates that allow your body to better utilize oxygen…pretty cool, right?  They are also loaded with anthocyanins, an antioxidant, that assist in lowering inflammation.  Try grating or shredding beets into a vegetarian inspired wrap or roast beets and toss with a citrus vinaigrette and top over fresh arugula.
  3. Seeds.  What is good for your heart is good for your brain.  We know nuts are heart healthy, but seeds tend to be an item we forget to grab at the grocery store.  Purchase a variety of seeds such as chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and ground flaxseed.  Chia seeds, high in plant omega-3 fatty acids and iron, work great in oatmeal, smoothies and whole grain pilafs.  Pumpkin seeds, high in vitamin E and fiber, provide a nice crunch to salads or work great in homemade granolas.  Ground flaxseed, high in dietary fiber and plant omega-3 fatty acids, is great over roasted vegetables as well as blended into smoothies or salad dressings.
  4. Herbs.  It is easy to dismiss the herbs in the produce section.  However, start thinking of herbs as miniature vegetables.  They provide flavor to food without using a heavy hand with the salt shaker.  Net result?  Less sodium, higher flavor and more antioxidants added to your meals.
  5. Lentils.  I don’t know one person that has tried lentils and not enjoyed them.  It can be easy to grab a can of beans and use those in tacos, soups, etc., but lentils can be used the same way as beans and still provide protein, fiber, iron, folate and more.  Try making lentil salads with fresh herbs, lentil soup with carrots, celery and onion or a lentil patty that replaces your standard burger.
  6. Shallots.  This vegetable is a milder relative of an onion.  Onions add a ton of flavor to your soups, sauces, sautéed vegetables and more.  The same application goes for shallots.  They cost more per pound and are worth every penny because of their sweet yet subtle onion flavor and nutritional components such as potassium, fiber, flavonoids (antioxidant), vitamin A and folate.  Use these in dressings, sauces, sautés.


Nutrition: Taking a Multivitamin


0408 2 300x201 Nutrition: Taking a Multivitamin

Nearly 40% of American adults regularly take a multivitamin/mineral supplement, spending billions of dollars every year. If you are one of them, are you getting your money’s worth? Most recent studies, including two that were published in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine in December, would suggest not. Neither study found any benefit nor in fact an editorial published along with the articles proclaimed, “Enough is enough; Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.”  In February, the U.S. Public Health Services Task Force, an independent group of health care experts who develop recommendations for primary care physicians and health systems, reported that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against the used of multivitamin/mineral supplements. Stephen Fortmann, MD, of the Kaiser Center of Health Research, lead author of the report, was quoted in the New York Times as saying that consumers may be ‘throwing their money away.” And some studies have not only shown no benefit, but potential harm from multis.

Based on the current information, you should obviously stop wasting money by purchasing supplements, right? To quote a popular college football analyst, “not so fast my friend.” According to the Harvard School of Public Health’s online resource, the Nutrition Source,, a daily multi might be beneficial. They agree of course that the best way to meet your nutrient need is to eat a healthy well balanced diet but for those who don’t, a multi can help fill in the gaps. As far as that study suggests this increased the risk.  The Nutrition Source stated that those studies were flawed; looking at all of the evidence, the potential health benefits of taking a standard multivitamin seem to outweigh the risks.  In addition, in the May 2014 issue of the University of California Wellness Letter, it was mentioned that several groups of people including women who may get pregnant, pregnant or breastfeeding women, strict vegetarians, and people on prolonged low calorie diets would likely benefit by taking a multivitamin.

If you chose to take one, the Wellness Letter say that it need not cost more than a few cents a day. Store brand and generics are usually as reliable as brand name products. For added insurance look for supplements that are USP Verified (see the graphic below). When it comes to vitamins and minerals, more is not better. Look for one that keeps to around 100% of the RDA’s a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. 0408 3 300x273 Nutrition: Taking a Multivitamin


All-Natural? Cage Free? What Does It All Mean…

You walk into a healthy grocery store or the Healthy Living section of your grocery store and you can’t help but see multiple health claims and confusing terminology on packaging.  Here are some words or phrases you may see and what they ACTUALLY mean:

Free-range. This label indicates that the flock was provided shelter in a building, room, or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water, and continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle. The outdoor area may or may not be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material. This label is regulated by the USDA.

Cage-free. This label indicates that the flock was able to freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle.

Natural. As required by USDA, meat, poultry, and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.

Organic.  Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers with synthetic ingredients, bioengineering or ionizing radiation.  For something to be labeled “organic”, 95% of the ingredients must be organic.

Grass-fed. Grass-fed animals receive a majority of their nutrients from grass throughout their life, while organic animals’ pasture diet may be supplemented with grain. Also USDA regulated, the grass-fed label does not limit the use of antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides. Meat products may be labeled as grass-fed organic.

Pasture-raised. Due to the number of variables involved in pasture-raised agricultural systems, the USDA has not developed a federal definition for pasture-raised products.

Humane. Multiple labeling programs make claims that animals were treated humanely during the production cycle, but the verification of these claims varies widely. These labeling programs are not regulated under a single USDA definition.

No added hormones. A similar claim includes “Raised without Hormones.” Federal regulations have never permitted hormones or steroids in poultry, pork, or goat.


Nutrition: Label Makeover

0311 420x415 300x296 Nutrition: Label Makeover

The bad news for me is that I am going to have to revise my portion control class; the good news for you is that the food labels are going to become less confusing.  One of the topics that I usually spend at least a few minutes on during the portion control class is the importance of checking out the serving size, and the portions per container on food labels.  As we have discussed in the class the serving size listed on the label is often much smaller than the amount that people actually consume, even for products that appear to be a single serve size. For example, a typical convenience store muffin might have a seemingly reasonable 200 calories per serving, but a close inspection with a magnifying glass would reveal that the muffin has 3 servings, 600 calories not the assumed 200 calories. And how many of you actually get 4 servings out of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, as the label suggests you should.  According to the FDA, the proposed changes to the serving size requirements will go into effect in about 2 years (the FDA moves slow, but at least I have plenty of time to work on my presentation)   The changes reflect how people eat and drink today  rather than how much the FDA thinks you “should” eat. That 20 ounce vending machine soft drink will be labeled as 1 serving not the 2 and ½ that it currently lists. The muffin discussed earlier would be labeled as 600 calories.

In addition to adjusting serving sizes they will be making a few other changes as well.  The revised labels will specifically list “added” sugars, making it easier to know if you exceeding the American Heart Association’s recommendation to limit added sugars to 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. In addition, for the first time potassium and vitamin d will be listed, two nutrients that Americans tend to be deficient in.

Since the labels were last revised 20 years ago, these changes should make it easier to make informed choices when checking out food labels.

Below is a video explaining the new label.



I get this question a lot:  Lindsay, what do YOU eat?  I actually love the question, but I stick to two words:  WHOLE FOODS—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, fatty fish, lean meats/poultry, eggs, healthy oils, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and minimal processed foods.  Of course it isn’t perfect and I do love my chocolate from time to time, but I can confidently say I stick to an H3 way of eating with some extra calories here and there—1200 calories per day would leave me passed out in my office if I tried to keep that up on a consistent basis.  No one wants that.  Anyways, the following foods and meals are constantly in my meal plan:

  1. Pan Seared Salmon with Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  I am constantly making this dinner.  I have finally nailed down the cooking technique of pan searing fish then finishing the cooking in the oven.  As the Brussels sprouts are roasting in the oven, I’m doing my preparation for the salmon.  In regards to meal planning, I’ll make extra salmon and Brussels to incorporate later on in the week.
  2. Chicken Salads.  I would bet 3 out of my 7 lunches per week consist of a salad.  I bake 3-4 chicken breasts on a Sunday; meanwhile, I spend time chopping vegetables and adding mixed greens into my salad containers as the chicken is cooking away.  This is when I have to get creative or my salads would get boring after week 2.  Common mix-ins:  cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrots, blueberries, sunflower seeds, cashews, toasted coconut, leftover roasted vegetables, raisins, cranberries, feta cheese (use a light brand), and various leafy greens.  See picture.  meal planning pic 420x315 Nutrition: LINDSAY, WHAT DO YOU EAT?
  3. Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Sautéed Spinach.  I love using the grill so I’ll put grill marks onto the pork tenderloin then finish in the oven.  As the pork is cooking through, I add my sweet potatoes to the oven and make sure they are seasoned with a touch of salt, white pepper and garlic powder.  My very last step is sautéing the spinach because it cooks up so fast—makes my life easier since I’ve spent more time on the pork and sweet potatoes.
  4. Hashes.  Talk about an easy re-heatable meal.  As seen in the picture, I roasted off extra sweet potatoes and while that was roasting I decided to sauté onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers (seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme).  Once the sweet potatoes were complete I added them to the vegetable mix and let it cool down.  I evenly distribute my “hash” to my containers and add leftover pork tenderloin for a nice lunch or dinner later in the week.  This would also be very vegetarian friendly by incorporating black beans instead of the pork tenderloin.
  5. Nuts.  Everyone in the kitchen knows that this is my daily metabomeal.  As long as I portion them out, they are great mid-afternoon and holds me over until dinner.  Added bonus—they add texture to a lot of dishes.  I love making salads or rice pilafs with sliced almonds or chopped pecans to get the crunch.
  6. Omelets and Scrambles—the perfect “back-up meal.”  Every now and then I get home later than expected and the thought of waiting an hour for dinner isn’t realistic.  I’ll pull out mushrooms, onions and spinach and let that cook down.  Once cooked, I add some eggs and make a nice scramble.   A touch of parmesan at the end gives me that little bit of saltiness needed.  On the side, I may have a toasted whole wheat English muffin or some fruit.  I love this because I always have these ingredients in the refrigerator.

At the end of the day, I am a home cook—I am not fancy and I am still learning a lot from Chef Karla and Chef Hicham.  They inspire me to try new things, but I know I have to make it realistic at home.  I’ll have a slice of pizza every now and then and there is nothing I love more than an awesome burger, but I know I have the ability to cook so why not DO IT, have some fun and know that it is only benefiting my health as well as creating my own specialties.




Realistically, most of you will be going out to eat at least once per week.  Whether it is for lunch or dinner, here is a tip that has helped me choose a healthier meal as well as feeling satisfied before I walk out the door.

  • Look at the ENTIRE menu and utilize various components (e.g., sauces, dressings, vegetable medleys, starches, proteins, etc.) to complete YOUR dish.
    • ITALIAN RESTUARANTS: side salad or minestrone soup to start.  Half order of gnocchi that is typically made with cream sauce, BUT substitute it for the marinara sauce that has been paired with the spaghetti and meatballs.  You could mix and match almost any sauce with any protein or pasta dish.
    • SANDWICH & SALAD CAFES:  when ordering a salad, check out if there are particular vegetables from the sandwich section that could added to your greens.  For example, I ordered a Greek chicken salad the other day and asked for the roasted eggplant, squash and zucchini medley to be added to my salad—this medley was originally spotted on the Vegetarian Panini.  Cross-utilization.
    • AMERICAN/STEAKHOUS:  If you want the salmon or steak, but aren’t thrilled about the butter loaded mashed potatoes on the side, then substitute it for double vegetables or look at other starches on the menu that could easier pair well with the protein.  Brown rice pilafs, half of a baked sweet potato, or the dinner roll that comes in that ever-so-tempting bread basket.
    • BURGERS/BARBEQUE:  A lot of burger or barbeque restaurants can make delicious vinegar-based coleslaws.  To get extra vegetables out of a grilled barbeque chicken sandwich, leave the top half of the bread on the side, ask for your chicken “dry”(meaning bbq on the side) and a slaw to top as your “vegetable” condiment. Pair with a side salad or steamed vegetable.


Book Review: Month of Meals

monthofmeals Book Review: Month of Meals

The American Diabetes Association has published a new and improved version of their popular book series Month of Meals. We started carrying the original series of the books in the Fit Shop in the late 1990’s and did so for many years.  Each book in the series provides recipes for 30 breakfasts, 30 lunches and 30 dinner.  All of the meals were designed to be nutritionally compatible, you could mix and match any breakfast with any lunch and any dinner. Making it not only a healthy recipe book, but an clever menu planning tool as well.  We carried the books in the shop  for many years until the books became dated and better resources were available. Now, it’s back and better than ever. The new updated edition, based on  latest nutritional guidelines for diabetes, has 167 breakfast, 167 lunches and 167 dinners, over 300 snack options and again compatible with each other .  Together there are over 4,500,000 daily menu combinations. (Give me a call when you have tried them all) The recipes are simple, healthy, tasty and most importantly it takes the guess work out of meal planning.

The basic meal plan; breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 snacks, totals about 1500 calories, but it can be adjusted down to 1200 or up to 2100 calories. While the menus are designed specifically for those with diabetes, they are appropriate for anyone looking for healthy recipes.


The Only 5 Things You’ll Ever Need at GNC

gnc 420x236 The Only 5 Things Youll Ever Need at GNC

H3′s very own, Lindsay Martin, was featured this morning in an article on GQ’s website.  This is a GREAT read for anyone who has ever wandered in to a GNC and left overwhelmed, confused, or both!  It breaks down what you need and what you can skip.  Awesome article, Lindsay!!   Click the link below and share with your family and friends.



Nutrition: Prevent Weight Gain through Whole Foods

healthy eating 0120 300x201 Nutrition: Prevent Weight Gain through Whole Foods

                Simply stepping on a scale doesn’t give the whole picture when it comes to one’s health.  Waist circumference, body fat distribution, body fat composition, bone density, and blood work are additional measurements that can provide clarity and realities of what is really going on with one’s body.  Even thin individuals go head-to-head with the battle of belly fat or having measurements that don’t seem like they would line up with their body weight.  Thin doesn’t necessarily translate into healthy.  With that being said, most individuals want to see body fat disappear, the number on the scale to go down and body fat percentage to improve because it is seen in the mirror or felt when doing sit ups during an exercise class.  We already know diet contributes to 80% of what is going on from a weight management side of things, but what foods in particular prevent the weight gain in the first place?  What foods can be included in a meal plan when the goal is weight loss?  Let’s check it out…

  1.  Whole grains.  Oats, quinoa, barley, wheat berries, farro, and wild rice are whole grains everyone should have in their grocery cart.   In multiple long term studies, the incorporation of whole grains and foods high in dietary fiber has shown to prevent weight gain.  For those trying to lose weight, including whole grains may actually show favor in losing more belly fat compared to dieters who exclude whole grains.   However, avoid the grains high in added sugar.  For example, instead of the brown sugar flavored oatmeal choose plain and add ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Leafy greens.  Spinach, arugula, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, romaine, watercress and more.  These fibrous leafy greens are loaded with water, lutein, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E, and the ever-so-important dietary fiber.  Leafy greens are especially high in insoluble fiber—the type of fiber that can help move things along your digestive trackAdding some “roughage” to your diet, on a consistent basis, can help alleviate irregular GI issues, bloating, constipation and more if consumed with plenty of water.
  3. Beans and Legumes.  These plant based protein sources are very high in soluble fiber.  Once cooked, a half-cup portion will actually provide just as much soluble fiber as two cups of cooked oatmeal.  Those who increase fiber intake can reduce the risk of added weight gain over time according to Liu and colleagues when evaluating the Nurses’ Health Study which followed over 74,000 females (12-year follow up).
  4. Nuts and Seeds. Even though nuts and seeds are calorically high and rich in dietary fats, avoiding them because of those reasons is not what you want to do.  Consuming 1-2 oz. per day provides a solid source of dietary fiber, unsaturated fats, vitamin E, magnesium, small amounts of protein and beneficial for your heart, brain and muscles.  This combination of nutrients will leave you feeling very satisfied.  Those who actually consume proper portions of nuts on a daily basis not only improve their diet, but body composition, BMI, and waist circumference does not increase according to a meta-analysis conducted by Flores-Mateo and colleagues published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012).  If you are looking for the mid-afternoon snack then nuts are the perfect thing to satisfy your hunger.
  5. Avocado.  In a recent 2013 Nutrition Journal study, researchers found that those who added half of one avocado at lunch (~112-125 calories) felt more satisfied and less desire to eat over the next three to five hours among overweight individuals.  This healthy fruit also showed to help stabilize blood sugars—another reason to include this food in the diet.  Use avocado as a creamy sandwich spread or dice and top onto a chicken salad.

To sum this up, it is extremely important to stay on a regular eating cycle by eating every three to four hours no matter what time you wake up.  In order to get these foods into your regular day, sit down on a Sunday and plan your weekly meals.  Break it down by breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  Getting sick of brown rice pilaf?  Change up the grain and use wheat berries instead of rice.  Can’t think of various ways to use an avocado?  Make a salsa and top over a poached egg or grilled salmon filet.  Think outside the box and your belly will appreciate it.


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