Category Archives: Nutrition

Germ Buster Nutrition – Eating for a Strong Immune System

Posted on: October 13, 2015

Germ Buster Nutrition – Eating for a Strong Immune System

Prevent the flu with good nutrition. 

By Elisa Bremner

In anticipation of flu season, it’s time to talk about prevention. First and foremost, please remember: the best defense against the flu is a year-round offense. This means eating right, staying active (60 minutes every day), getting enough rest (7-9 hours!) and minimizing stress (we can’t avoid stressful events in our life, but we can make the decision to handle them better). That being said, several nutrients play a role in enhancing your immunity. Mild deficiency of even one nutrient may weaken your body’s ability to fight infection.

“ACE” Germ Prevention 101!

Vitamins A, C and E, known as anti-oxidants, work together to protect you from infections and stressors on the body. Vitamin A keeps the skin and mucous membranes healthy, fortifying your first line of defense. It’s easy to find Vitamin A’s precursor, beta carotene, in orange-colored fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, apricots and mango. Eat these, and your body can make the vitamin A you need. Vitamin C stimulates the formation of antibodies, boosting immunity. Citrus fruits provide good amounts of Vitamin C, as do kiwis, strawberries, red peppers and tomatoes. Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals, stressors on the body which can cause cellular damage or disease. Foods highest in Vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach and safflower oil.

Although we tend to associate protein strictly with muscle, it plays an integral role in the body’s defense mechanism, important to growth and repair. As with all things food, moderation is still necessary, more is not necessarily better. Choose a variety of protein sources, including fish and other seafood, poultry, eggs, lean meat, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds.

One mineral that helps the immune system work properly is zinc. Food sources of zinc include lean beef, wheat germ, shellfish, wheat bran, sunflower seeds, black-eyed peas, almonds, milk and tofu.

Other nutrients, including vitamin B6, folate, selenium, iron and copper, as well as prebiotics and probiotics, may also influence immune response. A plant-based diet rich in whole foods (unprocessed) that includes variety, especially a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to prevent disease. Whether you’re talking about a sniffle, the flu or cancer, the advice is the same. Make sure you are eating 5-9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables every day, and please don’t restrict it to those mentioned above.

Germ-Buster Salad

10 oz. baby spinach
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
2 tsp. safflower oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Eat and enjoy fortifying your defenses.

For more information about boosting your immune system and keeping healthy through nutrition, consult a Registered Dietitian.

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The Clever Cook: Back to School Lunchbox Learning

Posted on: September 8, 2015

The Clever Cook: Back to School Lunchbox Learning

By Amy Rosenfeld

Getting in the back-to-school swing after a relaxing, stress-free summer might be difficult, but Banana Sunbutter Sushiit’s definitely doable. Here are some tips to get lunchbox organized:

1) Start a lunchbox meal planner and start a rotation. It may sound silly but taking the task of thinking of ideas out of your daily routine is a real time saver.
2) Get organized with great lunchbox materials. Stock up on a variety of portable containers, including many sizes for hot and cold packing.
3) Make recipes ahead and freeze. As much as you can do ahead of time, the better off you will be. One way to get started: make soups ahead and freeze in ice cube trays for easy defrosting.
4) Make time to pack lunches ahead. Pack ahead as much you can on the weekends for easy lunchbox stuffing. Get the kids to help and make an assembly line into a game! Then, take a few minutes at night to pack lunches instead of during the morning rush.

Fun and easy out-of-the-box lunchbox ideas:

1) BYO Pita Pizzas – Pack the tools they need to make their own pizza at lunch. Pack different sauces like tomato, pesto, or hummus as the base and send a variety of cheese and veggies for toppings. Here is a great example of hummus pizza:
2) Whole Grain Pasta and Noodle Salads – Cold and hot noodle or pasta salads can be an easy way to get all the food groups. Experiment with different types of pasta, everything from Asian Buckwheat Noodles to Orzo Salad:
3) Summer Soups with Grilled Cheese Dippers – Who doesn’t love soup in a thermos? Add a side of grilled cheese dipper strips and you have a balanced, delicious lunch. Plus, soup is an easy, nutrient rich make-ahead meal for a whole week of lunches or from the freezer. Try this End of Summer Soup Recipe:
4) Bento Box – Make meals out of snacks. Make sure to include proteins, including cheese, nut butters, tuna/egg/chicken salad, or sliced turkey or chicken, and a whole grain, like whole grain crackers or pretzels. Experiment with different dips like hummus, guacamole and veggie dips. Add a side of fruit and veggies.
5) Breakfast in a Box – Your little one doesn’t like lunch food? Pack a brunch style lunch with breakfast foods instead. Add yogurt parfaits, cottage cheese with fruit, whole grain pancakes or waffles, sweet and savory muffins, and hardboiled eggs.

Try NWH’s Sunbutter Sushi:

(serves 1)
1 6” tortilla wrap
1 banana, whole
1 tbsp sunflower seed butter*
1 tsp chocolate shavings

*Feel free to substitute peanut or almond butter as great alternatives!

1) Lay the tortilla on a flat surface. Spread the sunflower seed butter evenly over one side of the tortilla.
2) Place the banana on one edge of the tortilla. Roll the banana inside the tortilla until completely rolled up. Slice the tortilla into 6 even pieces (like sushi).
3) Dip each piece of sushi into the chocolate shavings. Eat immediately or wrap for an easy snack on the go!

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 370 calories, 13 g fat, 1.1 g saturated fat, 390 mg sodium, 55 g carbohydrates, 8.5 g fiber, 10 g protein
Breakfast for Lunch: Silver Dollar Oatmeal Pancakes

(serves 4, make 16 silver dollar cakes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup old fashioned oatmeal
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 ¾ tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 cup skim milk
4 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 cup fresh berries
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1) Preheat the griddle on medium heat and the oven to 200 degrees.

2) While the griddle is heating up, in a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients. Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg, milk, applesauce to the center. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Do not over-mix – some lumps are ok. Let the batter stand for about 5 minutes.

3) Spray the grill with cooking spray. Using a small ladle, spoon batter carefully onto the grill – 1 ladles per pancake. Do not touch until you start to see some bubbles start to form on the surface.  Add a few berries to each cake. Cook for about another 1-2 minutes.

4) As each pancake is done, place in the oven to stay warm. Mix the Greek yogurt with pure maple syrup and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt on each pancake.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 320 calories, 4 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 600 mg sodium, 60 g carbohydrates, 4.5 g fiber, 9.5 g protein

Editor’s Note: Amy Rosenfeld, M,S RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian at Northern Westchester Hospital

Making Monday Meatless: Tasty Vegetarian Meals for the Whole Family

Posted on: August 11, 2015

Tasty Vegetarian Meals for the Whole Family

By Elisa Bremner

No question about it – a plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat.  Eliminating or reducing our consumption of meat helps reduce our risks for many chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease.  It’s good for the Earth; anything that cuts out the middleman (i.e. animals that need to eat plants to grow) is less taxing on the environment.  And don’t forget – it’s easy on the pocketbook.  So why not take at least one day off from meat each week?  With these creative and delicious ideas, Meatless Monday could make that dreaded day of the week something to look forward to:

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Surprising Findings for Infants at Risk for Peanut Allergies

Posted on: July 29, 2015

Does early introduction of peanut products reduce the incidence of peanut allergy?

By Dr. Craig Osleeb

Creamy Peanut Butter with PeanutsPeanut allergy is a major problem. It is currently one of the 6 most common causes of food allergy in childhood. The prevalence of peanut allergy has risen over the past decade and currently affects approximately 1.4% of the USA population. While many children will outgrow their food allergy to milk, egg, wheat and soy, 82% of those allergic to peanut will remain so for life. This is a great concern to parents, patient’s and the healthcare community at large. In February of this year the New England Journal of Medicine published a prospective placebo blinded study (Learning Early about Peanut Allergy, LEAP, study) that has far reaching implications for the prevention of peanut allergy.

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Organic, Natural, Local, Grass-fed: What does it all mean?

Posted on: July 20, 2015

Decoding Sustainable Foods

By Amy Rosenfeld

In our efforts to be healthy and mindful when choosing the foods we eat, we often come across many environmental food terms including local, grass-fed, organic, etc. But what do all these labels mean?

Food grown or raised in an ecologically and ethically responsible manner, where the environment is protected, human health safeguarded, animals are farmed humanely, and workers are treated fairly is called Sustainable Food.

Sustainable foods are thought to reduce exposure to many harmful substances including pesticides, antibiotics, and food additives.  Many sustainable foods are also higher in nutrients and antioxidants due to limited travel time required to reach the consumer. The less time food travels, the more nutrients it contains when it reaches its destination. Eating sustainably also supports an environmentally and socially responsible food system, promoting local farmers. To help you better understand food labeling, I’m sharing the United States Department of Agriculture’s definition of several sustainable food terms. Keep reading for a wonderful Tomato, Watermelon, and Peach Salad recipe.

Common Sustainable Food Terms: (as defined by the USDA)
Local Food:
Food produced in the same geographical region as the consumer. The size of the geographical region is not specified (e.g. unspecified number of miles).
Free Range or Free Roaming: A method of farming in which animals are allowed to roam freely for a least some portion of the day rather than being confined to an enclosure for 24 hours per day. The amount of free-range time is not specified.
Natural: A product that contains no artificial ingredient or added color. The product was minimally processed meaning, it was processed in a way that does not fundamentally alter the product.
No Antibiotics or Hormones: Animals were raised without being given antibiotics or hormones.
Non-GMO: The acronym GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, which refers to any food product that has been altered at the gene level. Genetically modified foods are also frequently described as “genetically engineered,” “genetically altered,” or “genetically manipulated.”
Organic: Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using “most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.” Organic food is also produced emphasizing environmental practices. In order for foods to receive an organic certification, the government-approved certifier inspects the farm for these qualifications.
Grass-Fed: Animals that are classified as grass-fed are to be provided a diet solely from forage consisting of grass, forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassica), browse, or cereal grain crops. Animals cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season.

While eating sustainably is considered by many to be better for the environment and your health, many of these sustainable food choices are often more expensive and more difficult to find. If it is affordable for your family, consider trying to incorporate sustainable foods into your family’s diet, emphasizing local choices whenever possible.  I recommend shopping at local farmer’s markets to find these sustainable options.  My advice? Mix and match sustainable food choices from your local farmers market with options from your grocery store for the best bang for your buck.

Local Northern Westchester Farmers Markets:
Chappaqua Farmers Market
Pleasantville Farmers Market
Katonah – John Joay Homestead
Mt Kisco Farmers Market
Somers – Muscoot Farm
North Salem – Gossett Brothers Nursery
Yorktown – Hilltop Hanover Farm

Try out this seasonal recipe  from

Heirloom Tomato, Watermelon, and Peach Salad

(serves 8)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon white rum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1 1/2 cups sliced peaches
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
1 pound heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add watermelon and next 5 ingredients (through tomatoes); toss gently. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Sprinkle with goat cheese just before serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): Calories 90, Fat 3.8 g, Saturated Fat 1.1 g, Protein 2 g, Carbohydrate 12.5 g, Fiber 1.5 g, Sodium 95 mg

Editor’s Note: Amy Rosenfeld, MS RD CDN is a Registered Dietitian at Northern Westchester Hospital