Category Archives: Nutrition

Slow Cookers for Fast Movers

Posted on: October 4, 2016

We’re one month into the school year – between dropping the kids off at basketball practice, dance class or SAT Prep – it might feel overwhelming, or even impossible to squeeze in a healthy, home-cooked meal for dinner. Enter the slow-cooker. You’re new in-home chef, and my personal best friend when I need a pork shoulder to lean on for a weeknight dinner and don’t have the time to cook. Here, I’ll explain the many benefits of the Crock-pot and share two of my favorite slow-cooker recipes for a healthy autumn. By Jackie Farrall, RD, CDN, Northern Westchester Hospital.

Is Fresh Always Best?
Though it’s a slow cooker, you may want fast preparation. You can always throw in some canned veggies and let the slow-cooker work its magic, while you work yours – outside of the kitchen. Crock-pot meals are simple because they often contain canned produce, no need to peel, cut or dice ingredients. Sure, you can always use fresh produce and though some will argue that “fresh is best,” when it comes to produce – canned fruits and vegetables, free of added salt and sugars, have the same nutritional value.

Turn up the Heat, Without Losing Nutrients
Canned tomatoes are a staple ingredient in a variety of crock-pot meals. When tomatoes are heated, the powerful antioxidant lycopene – linked to heart health, cancer prevention and even improved mood – becomes more readily available to your body.

Vitamin C, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folic acid and water-soluble vitamins are sometimes lost during cooking. However, in a slow cooker, lost vitamins are incorporated into the cooking liquids within the crock-pot. You can even use the remaining liquid in the pot as a gravy or sauce to top off the meal. This is the best way to maximize vitamin retention.

An Expensive Taste for a Cut of the Price
Using low-temperature cooking, slow-cookers make less expensive cuts of meat unbelievably tender. In fact, this technique is extremely effective for tough cuts of meat as they typically contain more connective tissue, which remains tough unless cooked slowly. Cooking meat slowly at low temperatures causes less moisture loss than high heat – resulting in a moist, tender meal at half the price.

The Colors of Autumn Will Fill your Crock-Pot with this Sweet Potato Chicken Quinoa Soup

1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken breast, remove fat
1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
1 Tsp of minced garlic
1 ½ Tsp of chili powder
½ Tsp ground cumin
5 cups of low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Nonstick spray

Spray slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add all ingredients – chicken breasts, quinoa, sweet potatoes, black beans, tomatoes, garlic, chili powder, cumin and chicken broth to slow cooker. Slow-cook on high for 3-5 hours.

Recipe adapted from Chelsea Messy Apron

This Apple Pie Oatmeal May Cook Slow, but Will Be Devoured Fast!

1 cup steel-cut oats
2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped into roughly ¾ inch pieces
1 ½ cups almond milk, unsweetened
2 ½ cups of water
2 Tsp ground cinnamon
¼ Tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp hemp seeds (or flax seeds)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut oil/cooking spray

Use coconut oil or cooking spray to grease slow cooker. Add all ingredients – oats, apple slices, almond milk, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, hemp seeds and maple syrup – to slow cooker and stir. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Give this delicious oatmeal a good stir and serve!

Recipe courtesy of Domesticate Me

Beans, Beans Good for Your Heart

Posted on: September 15, 2016

While the silly children’s rhyme, “Beans, Beans…Good for Your Heart,” may make mothers cringe at the dinner table—dietitians agree that there’s a pleasant truth behind the humorous melody. Beans have so much to offer, both in nutrition and taste. Follow these suggestions and use the black bean recipe below to create a delicious end of summer meal. By Jackie Farrall, RD, CDN, Northern Westchester Hospital 

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Brain-Boosting Nutrition for your Little Students

Posted on: August 30, 2016

Follow these tips to get your little ones excited about healthy eating and ready to conquer the school day. By Jackie Farrall, RD, CDN, Northern Westchester Hospital

Back to school – notebooks, pencils and a nourishing pantry help our children perform their best while in class and at the playground. You may be surprised to learn, however, that what’s making it into your child’s school lunch isn’t always the best option. In fact, a study from Baylor University College of Medicine reported that packed lunches were actually less nutritious than lunch served in the cafeteria. If you want your child to reap the benefits of “Brain Food” follow these tips and make sure to include all of the food groups- protein, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables. This will help sustain your child throughout the school day and into their after-school activities. 

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Detox Diet

Posted on: January 12, 2016

Support Your Body’s Natural Ability to Detox

By Amy Rosenfeld, MS, RD, CDN

Often thought of as the “quick, easy solution” to shed the pounds, detoxes or cleanses are all iStock_8309428_MultiPhoto_Foodthe rage in the world of dieting. Health claims range from improved health, energy, and digestion to decreased inflammation and weight loss, and while many people start cleanse diets to “jump-start” weight loss or “rid the body of toxins,” extreme diets are neither effective nor safe.

The theory behind detoxing is to give the gastrointestinal cells time to rest and become stronger. Instead, extreme cleanses are linked with lack of energy, headaches, irritability, constipation, nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar control issues, gastrointestinal bacterial imbalances, electrolyte imbalances, and even cardiac issues.

Specific diets vary, but extreme detoxes and cleanses often limit dieters to drinking fruit and vegetables juices and/or eating raw fruits and vegetables for an extended amount of time. The average cleanse is 800-1,000 calories per day, less than half the average 2,000 calorie intake most people need. Severe calorie restriction causes the body to break down glucose stored in our muscles causing water loss. After a longer period of time, the body breaks down muscle from limited protein intake. This water and muscle loss results in temporary weight loss that is regained once the diet is over.

Luckily, our bodies have a natural “detox” system – our kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and liver. If we feed ourselves natural, unprocessed, whole foods, our bodies will do the rest. Follow these steps to create your own cleansing diet and revive from within:

1) Drink plenty of water, at least eight 8oz glasses per day.
2) Eat a high-fiber diet, with unprocessed whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal), beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.
3) Fill at least ½ your plate at every meal with fruits and vegetables. The more colorful, the grater the antioxidant intake.
4) Choose vegetarian, plant-based meals.
5) Limit alcohol. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. (1 drink = 12oz of beer, 1.5oz hard alcohol, 5oz of wine.)
6) Limit sugar to 150 calories per day. Check labels for any added sugars, especially those sneaky sources of sugar including yogurts!

Create a week of menus for yourself –by planning each meal and sticking to a routine you can break free from old habits and maximize the positive benefits of a truly cleansing diet.
Healthy “Detox” Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Beet Berry Smoothie

2 beets, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 c. strawberries
2 c. plain Greek Yogurt
2 c. water

Blend all ingredients until smooth!

Nutrition Facts:
(serves 3)
148cal, 1g fat, 145mg sodium, 34.2g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 4.6g protein

Quinoa and Winter Fruit Salad
Courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine

1 1/3 c. quinoa (about 1/2 pound), rinsed
1 1/2 c. water
2 kumquats—halved, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 c pure olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large Bosc pear—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium cucumber—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 c. coarsely chopped stemmed watercress
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring often, until just tender, about 12 minutes; the grains should be separate and intact. Drain the quinoa and let cool completely.
2. In a small bowl, combine the kumquats and cilantro with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and let steep for 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, pear and cucumber. Add the dressing and toss well. Add the watercress and toss again. Serve at once.
Nutrition Facts:
(serves 4-6)
210cal, 10.7g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 203mg sodium, 24g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 5.4g protein

Two Bean Soup with Kale
Courtesy of

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped carrot
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 tsp salt, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 c. organic vegetable broth (such as Emeril’s), divided
7 c. stemmed, chopped kale (about 1 bunch)
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat.
2. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and sauté 6 minutes or until tender.
3. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook 1 minute.
4. Stir in 3 cups vegetable broth and kale. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until kale is crisp-tender.
5. Place half of cannellini beans and remaining 1 cup vegetable broth in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.
6. Add pureed bean mixture, remaining cannellini beans, black beans, and pepper to soup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
7. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, vinegar, and rosemary.

Nutrition Facts:
(serves 6)
250 cal, 10.4 g fat, 1.4 g saturated fat, 11.8 g protein, 9.2 g fiber, 393 mg sodium

How Much is Too Much Salt?

Posted on: December 14, 2015

Salt Sense:  How Much is Too Much Salt?

By Jill Ashbey-Pejoves 

Most of us know that eating too much salt isn’t good for us. It causes our bodies to retain fluid, which increases our blood pressure and makes our heart work harder. Over time, this can do significant damage to blood vessels.

SaltA new rule requiring chain restaurants in NYC to clearly identify (with a salt shaker symbol) the high sodium options on their menu will benefit everyone, but they only have to do that for items containing 2300 milligrams of sodium or more. That’s the equivalent of a teaspoon of salt, or an entire day’s worth. The typical American consumes  well over that, and it’s not just adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 9 out of 10 children eat too much salt, and 1 in 6 have elevated blood pressure.

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