Quick Meals: Veg-Style!

By Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN


Most of these ideas…

  • Take about 15 minutes to prepare
  • Use a mix of convenience foods and fresh foods
  • Have at least 3 food groups
  • Are around 350-450 calories (subject to portion size/appetite!)


1)    Breakfast for dinner

  • Whole wheat toast with 1/3 avocado and fried egg (5 minutes)
    • Make it vegan – sub ½ cup white beans and smash with avocado to make a guacamole like spread
  • Clean out the fridge frittata (30 minutes) – use any vegetable you want.
  • Cereal (Kashi Barbara’s, Nature’s Path) low-fat milk of choice, ½ cup fruit (1 minute)

2)    Semi-Homemade

  • Asian Noodle Salad: Noodles (soba/udon), Baked Tofu or frozen edamame + Slaw Mix + Sesame or Teriyaki dressing (15 minutes
  • Tip: Throw shelled frozen edamame into your boiling noodle-water for last couple minutes
  • Israeli Salad: Israeli couscous, cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, white beans, capers, lemon, olive oil (15 minutes)
  • Bi Bim Bap – frozen rice, tofu, fried egg, frozen or fresh vegetables, Gochuchang sauce (15 minutes)
  • Banza Pasta (15 minutes)
  • Red sauce w/ frozen vegetables
  • White sauce with garlic, spinach and goat cheese (recipe)

3)    The Freezer is your Friend

  • Vegetable Frozen Pizza + Side salad (20 minutes)
  • Check the calories and make sure to keep ‘pizza calories’ to less than 300, which is usually 1/3 the pizza
  • Trader Joe’s Vegetable Stir Fried Rice (5-10 minutes)
  • Tip: Add extra edamame and frozen vegetables for a more filling meal
  • Chana Masala (5 minutes)
  • Add extra drained/canned chickpeas to maximize protein and minimize the heavy sauce + frozen rice

4)    Simple Sandwiches (5 minutes)

  • PB & J or fruit slices on whole wheat bread
  • Veggie Sandwich: Hummus, roasted red peppers, arugula, onion, etc.

5)    Hearty Snacks (less than 5 minutes)

  • ½ cup black beans, ½ cup corn, salsa + Triscuits or Flax chips
  • Yogurt Parfait: Low fat greek yogurt, 1 cup fruit and 1/3 cup granola


In order to execute these super quick meals, set up your pantry for success by stocking up on these staples:


Proteins: Canned beans, eggs, prepared tofu, frozen edamame, peanut butter, hummus

Grains: Frozen brown rice or grain mixes, whole wheat bread, whole grain cereal, whole wheat or bean based pasta

Frozen: fruit/veg mixes, 1-2 frozen meals or pizzas

Dairy: low fat milk or unsweetened soy milk, yogurt

Sauces: 1-2 flavorful sauces such as Teriyaki sauce, salsa, Gochuchang


In addition to these staples, try to purchase 3-5 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables each week to supplement these recipes with. But if that’s tough to do, frozen fruits and veggies work too.


By Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

We’re a generation of doers, with seemingly endless to-do lists between work, chores, sports practices, and social engagements. Then there are worries about traffic, finances, and various other little inconveniences that add up. In addition to being worn out and frustrated, elevated levels of stress can take a heavy toll on both our mental and physical health.


Common symptoms of stress are irritability, lack of focus, muscle tension, headaches, anxiety, GI issues, lethargy and insomnia. Research also shows that individuals who suffer from high levels of stress have a greater likelihood of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, weight gain, heart disease and various other chronic illnesses – increased risks due in part to excess production of the stress hormone cortisol as part of our natural “fight or flight” response [1].


While many of life’s daily challenges are often out of our control, certain nutrient-rich foods can actually help reduce the body’s stress response. In fact, food “directly effects the structure and function of your brain, and ultimately, your mood [2].”


Here are some nutrients that improve the body’s ability to handle stress [3]:

  • Antioxidants and phytochemicals, among many other beneficial functions, promote a strong immune system and decreased inflammation throughout the body. Particular stand-outs that help diminish the body’s response to cortisol include bright yellow, orange and red produce rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene; dark red, blue and purple produce rich in anthocyanins; as well as phytochemical-rich dark chocolate and green tea.
  • Omega-3-rich foods, such as cold-water fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies), flaxseed and chia seeds, walnuts, edamame, kidney beans and fortified eggs, provide EPA, DHA and ALA – three beneficial omega-3s that have been shown to reduce production of stress hormones, and are also linked to less inflammatory activity.
  • Probiotics (the “good” gut bacteria) are mostly known for improved digestion, but they also play vital roles in supporting the strength of your immune system, reducing inflammation, and potentially decreasing levels of stress and anxiety [4]. Yogurt with live and active cultures, kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and pickled vegetables are good sources.
  • B vitamins are required for energy production in the body, and the B vitamins folate/folic acid and vitamin B6 in particular help increase production of serotonin [5] – a neurotransmitter commonly referred to as the “happy chemical.” Folate is also important to production of another feel-good chemical, dopamine. Find folate in black-eyed peas and kidney beans, asparagus, avocado, peanuts and wheat germ; and B6 in chickpeas, tuna and salmon, poultry, banana, cottage cheese, potatoes and other starchy vegetables. Beef liver, dark green leafy vegetables, and fortified whole grain products are also good sources for both.
  • Tryptophan, one of our amino acids, is the precursor of stress-relieving serotonin, and can be found in egg yolks, cheeses, soy products, nuts and seeds, and turkey [5].
  • Magnesium is a mineral associated with decreased muscle tension, irritability, fatigue and feelings of anxiety. Good sources of magnesium include almonds, cashews and peanuts, cooked spinach, black beans and edamame, avocado, and fortified whole grain products.


In addition to dietary stress-relievers, routine physical activity, regular exposure to vitamin D-rich sunshine, adequate restful sleep, proper hydration, and even meditation, breathing exercises, or simply getting fresh air or talking to a friend, can also play important roles in minimizing the body’s response to stress.


While a healthy, balanced, nutrient-rich diet may be beneficial, other eating patterns can have the opposite effect. High intake of nutrient-poor high-fat and high-sugar foods often give us a small energy boost that quickly fades away. Regular excesses of both fat and sugar may also increase inflammation, making it even more difficult for our bodies to adequately deal with stress.






  1. Understanding the stress response. Harvard Health Publishing website. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response. Updated 1 May 2018. Accessed 11 May 2018.
  2. Selhub, E. Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health Publishing website. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626. Updated 5 April 2018. Accessed 11 May 2018.
  3. Rumsey A. The Best Foods for Stress-Relief. US News. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2017-06-21/the-best-foods-for-stress-relief. Published 21 June 2017. Accessed 14 May 2018.
  4. Probiotics Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety Levels. Today’s Dietitian. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/news/021717_news.shtml. Accessed 14 May 2018.
  5. 7 Foods That Could Boost Your Serotonin: The Serotonin Diet. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/foods-that-could-boost-your-serotonin. Updated 10 July 2017. Accessed 14 May 2018.

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

By Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

Osteoporosis, meaning “porous bone,” is a condition that occurs when the body loses too much bone mass, accrues too little to begin with, or both. Bones become thinner and weaker as a result, and with the increased fragility comes an increased risk of fracture that can lead to disability and decreased quality of life.


According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis and low bone density currently affects roughly 54 million Americans – a number that is expected to rise as the population ages [1].


What are the risk factors?

Though osteoporosis can happen to anyone, certain individuals are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others. The following are some of the risk factors:


  • Age – Osteoporosis does not discriminate by age, but is far more common in older adults (age 65 and older) compared to younger people.
  • Sex – A higher proportion of women than men are affected.
  • Hormone levels – Women with decreased levels of estrogen (a hormone the body uses to take up calcium [2]), post-menopause or due to removal of ovaries, are at increased risk of osteoporosis, as are men with abnormally low levels of testosterone (possibly related to treatment for prostate cancer).
  • Family history – People whose parents had osteoporosis or a history of broken bones are more likely than those without a hereditary predisposition to develop osteoporosis.
  • Race – Individuals who are Hispanic/Latino, Asian and Caucasian have greater risk of developing osteoporosis.


Can preventative measures be taken?

Childhood and early adulthood are the times during which we build the strength, density and integrity of our bones, eventually reaching the maximum – peak bone mass – by our early 20s. From this point onward, we slowly lose calcium and other minerals, making it crucial to do all we can to be proactive in maintaining bone health throughout the life cycle.


Certain nutrients and healthy foods can help enhance bone health and decrease risk of osteoporosis [3], while others may have the opposite effects. Here are some of the key players:

  • Calcium – The most plentiful mineral in the human body, predominantly found in the skeletal network, calcium is vital to strong bones, essential for prevention of osteoporosis, degenerative bone diseases, fractures and age-related bone loss.
    • Recommended daily intake is between 1,000 mg and 1,200 mg for most adults [4].
    • Find calcium in dairy, dark leafy greens, white beans, sardines and anchovies with bones, tofu processed with calcium sulfate, plus some fortified cereals, bread and 100% orange juice.
  • Vitamin D – This fat-soluble vitamin helps the body absorb and use calcium to promote strong bones.
    • Recommended daily intake is between 600 IU and 800 IU for most adults [5].
    • Find vitamin D in cod liver oil, egg yolk, fatty cold water fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies and tuna, Swiss cheese, some fortified dairy and plant-based milks and yogurts, plus mushrooms grown under UV. Regular sun exposure of arms, legs and face for about 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week will also help increase vitamin D. Go out early or late in the day when the sun is weakest, without sunscreen (use sunscreen at all other times).
  • Protein – Adequate dietary protein helps protect bones primarily by minimizing age-related muscle loss, thereby reducing risk of falls and potentially fractures.
    • Regular excessive intake of protein, however, can result in decreased bone density due to urinary losses of calcium.
  • Fruits and vegetables – Some studies suggest that diets rich in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help decrease bone loss and increase bone density, particularly in older adults. These benefits come as a result of high levels of bone-friendly antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and vitamin K.
  • Sodium and caffeine – Diets extremely high in sodium and caffeine may cause the body to lose calcium and increase risk of osteoporosis.
    • Research has shown that moderate amounts of daily caffeine from coffee or tea are not detrimental to bone health; regular consumption of cola drinks, on the other hand, may contribute to a greater risk of bone loss.


There are also several other lifestyle factors that play an important role in the prevention of osteoporosis, including:

  • Physical activity – Aim for daily weight-bearing exercise to strengthen muscle and bone [6].
  • Healthy body weight – Low body weight (BMI < 19 kg/m²), and in general being smaller/thinner, can increase risk of osteoporosis [1].
  • Alcohol only in moderation – Excess intake of alcohol has been shown to increase risk of osteoporosis. However, some evidence suggests there may be some protective effects from moderate intake – for adults of legal drinking age, up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Tobacco cessation – Research shows that use of tobacco products is associated with accelerated bone loss, and therefore may increase risk of osteoporosis.
  • Certain health issues, treatments and medications – Check with your physician about the various diseases, conditions, medical procedures, medications and supplements that may contribute to accelerated calcium and bone losses [1].


If you are at risk, or are currently affected by low bone density or osteoporosis, consider making an appointment with your physician to discuss prevention or treatment options. If you can meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist as well, he or she can help you assess current intake and suggest ways in which to include more bone-healthy nutrients and foods into your diet. If supplementation is warranted, please first check with your physician on specific nutrients and appropriate dosage before starting.




Osteoporosis Prevention throughout the Lifespan, Food & Nutrition Magazine

Bone Loss: Tallying Your Risk, University of California Berkeley Wellness

14 Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium, TIME

National Osteoporosis Foundation’s Food4Bones app, Food & Nutrition Magazine review




  1. What is Osteoporosis and What Causes It? National Osteoporosis Foundation website. https://www.nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/. Accessed 26 April 2018.
  2. How Women Can Fight Bone Loss. University of California Berkeley Wellness website. http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/preventive-care/article/how-women-can-fight-bone-loss?ap=400. Published 1 December 2011. Accessed 26 April 2018.
  3. Diet and Supplements for Bone Health. University of California Berkeley Wellness website. http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/nutrition/article/diet-and-supplements-bone-health?ap=400. Published 16 August 2017. Accessed 26 April 2018.
  4. Calcium: Reference Intakes. National Institutes of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements website. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/#h2. Updated 2 March 2017. Accessed 27 April 2018.
  5. Vitamin D: Reference Intakes. National Institutes of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements website. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/#h2. Updated 2 March 2018. Accessed 27 April 2018.
  6. Wolfram T. Built to the Bone: Why Weight-Bearing Exercise Is Key to Strong Bones. Food & Nutrition Magazine website. https://foodandnutrition.org/may-june-2016/built-bone-weight-bearing-exercise-key-strong-bones/. Published 28 April 2016. Accessed 27 April 2018.

by Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

According to the latest reports published by the National Coffee Association, daily coffee consumption rose two percentage points in the past year to 64% among American adults [1].


Coffee is the biggest dietary source of caffeine in the US, but it also comes with small amounts of vitamins and minerals [2], and is considered one of our greatest sources of antioxidants. As such, this classic beverage does more than provide a morning energy boost – it can offer a variety of health benefits to our bodies throughout the day.


Potential perks

Regular consumption of coffee is scientifically linked to improved alertness, productivity, creativity and memory. In addition to temporary boosts in brain function, coffee may increase levels of happiness and reduce stress and symptoms of depression, and has the potential to benefit a variety of conditions including migraines and gallstones.


In individuals over the age of 45, recent findings show that it may increase overall longevity [3], while additional studies suggest coffee is an ergogenic aid, potentially improving athletic performance, exertion and mood during endurance-type exercises [4].


Upwards of 3 to 5 daily 8-oz cups may also decrease risk of heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s [5], type 2 diabetes, liver issues, and certain cancers, such as malignant melanoma [6].


Sip smartly

Coffee – regular or decaf – is a very small source of calories, offering only about 2 per 8-oz serving. Keep in mind, however, that sweeteners and flavored syrups, dairy and non-dairy milks, regular or whipped cream, and other additions to our coffees contribute not only to extra calories, but also extra sugar, saturated fat, and sometimes sodium as well.


For a more healthful drink, stick with regular brewed or iced coffees, or an Americano, cappuccino or latte. Choose a lower fat dairy milk or unsweetened plant-based milk, as opposed to whole milk or cream to save on fat calories, and ask for no-sugar or low-sugar if you opt for a flavor add-in. A dusting of cinnamon, nutmeg and/or unsweetened cocoa powder all add flavor with minimal calories.


Other coffee considerations

Daily doses of caffeine less than 400 mg are considered safe by the FDA (the average cup of coffee has about 90 mg). However, every body reacts differently to its effects, and there are certain individuals who may want to avoid excess intake, including:

·         Children, adolescents and the elderly

·         Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding – recommended to limit daily intake to no more than 200 mg/day (or two 8-oz cups of home-brewed coffee per day) [7]

·         Anyone suffering from anxiety disorders – linked to onset, occurrence and symptom severity [8]

·         Anyone with low iron levels and/or currently taking iron supplements – decreases iron absorption

·         Anyone taking certain medications or herbal supplements that may interact with caffeine – e.g., ephedrine (commonly in decongestants), theophylline (found in bronchodilators), echinacea [9]

·         Anyone with a history of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and/or high blood pressure [7]

·         Anyone not currently getting adequate, good-quality sleep [9]


If caffeine makes you jittery, here are a few dietary tips that might help avoid this uncomfortable feeling:

·         Enjoy your coffee with food or shortly after eating, as caffeine has a stronger, faster effect on an empty stomach;

o   Particularly effective at counteracting these jittery effects of caffeine are magnesium-rich foods, such as nuts and seeds (particularly pumpkin seeds/pepitas), whole grains (e.g., quinoa, brown rice or oatmeal), dark leafy greens, and avocado.

·         Drink one glass of water for every cup of coffee, or drink an equivalent number of glasses as cups of coffee within 30 minutes of the last cup; and/or

·         Limit total coffee intake to two 12-oz cups per day, aiming for only one cup per sitting.




·         The Benefits (Yes, You Read That Right) of Coffee Addiction, Food & Nutrition Magazine

·         Is it Time to Cut Back on Caffeine?, Food & Nutrition Magazine

·         Are You Consuming Coffee Correctly (video), AsapSCIENCE on YouTube




1.      Bolton D. Coffee Consumption on the Rise. Stir: Global Insight on Coffee and Tea. http://stir-tea-coffee.com/tea-coffee-news/coffee-consumption-on-the-rise/. Published 11 April 2018. Accessed 17 April 2018.

2.      Self Nutrition Data. Coffee, brewed from grounds, prepared with tap water. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beverages/3898/2. Accessed 17 April 2018.

3.      Park A. Coffee Drinkers Really Do Live Longer. TIME Magazine. http://time.com/4849985/coffee-caffeine-live-longer/. Published 10 July 2017. Accessed 14 April 2018.

4.      Alsharif S. Caffeine and Exercise. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. https://www.eatright.org/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-your-workout/caffeine-and-exercise. Published 28 April 2015. Accessed 16 April 2018.

5.      Moderate coffee drinking may lower risk of premature death. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health News Releases. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/moderate-coffee-drinking-may-lower-risk-of-premature-death/. Updated 16 November 2016. Accessed 15 April 2018.

6.      Bakalar N. Coffee May Cut Melanoma Risk. The New York Times Well Blog. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/coffee-may-cut-melanoma-risk/?_r=0. Published 22 January 2015. Accessed 14 April 2018.

7.      Fact Sheet: Everything You Need to Know About Caffeine. International Food Information Council Foundation. http://www.foodinsight.org/sites/default/files/IFIC_Caffeine_v5.pdf. Published in 2015. Accessed 17 April 2018.

8.      Barkyoumb G. Comprehensive Care for Anxiety: The Role of Diet. Food & Nutrition Magazine Stone Soup Blog. https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/comprehensive-care-anxiety-role-diet/. Published 12 August 2014. Accessed 16 April 2018.

9.      Caffeine: How Much is Too Much? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678. Published 8 March 2017. Accessed 17 April 2018.

Cooking for one can be a challenge. Let’s face it, most recipes are designed for multiple servings. This can sometimes make cooking at home seem daunting and time consuming. Family Food Registered Dietitian Elizabeth May, RDN, CSOWM, LDN has some tips for when you are cooking for one.

Tip #1: Select recipes that yield 2-3 servings, that way you won’t get sick of it.

  • Acorn Squash Recipe
    • Serves 2
    • Ingredients-
      • 1 small granny smith apple, cut into small pieces
      • 2 oz plain goat cheese
      • Handful chopped pecans, toasted
      • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
      • Sea salt and pepper
    • Directions-
      • Cut the squash in half and lay on baking sheet (flesh up). Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bake at 400 F for 45-60 min. or until the insides are easy to pull out with a fork. While squash bakes, cook the apple (and sausage if you want) in a skillet. Once squash is ready, scoop out most of the insides of the squash and mix it with the cheese and apples. Refill each half of the squash and sprinkle pecans on top. Put it back in the oven on LOW broil for 3-5 minutes.
  • Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad by Oh She Glows
  • Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash by The Comfort of Cooking
  • Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Caprese by Skinnytaste
  • 10- Minute Cauliflower “Fried” Rice by Damn Delicious
  • Sweet Potato Toast by Real Food RDs
  • Brussel Sprout Tacos by Minimalist Baker

Tip #2: Choose recipes you can whip up quickly that serve one. 

  • Avocado Toast – Sprinkle Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning on it!
  • Acai Bowls
    • Serves 1
    • Ingredients-
      • 1 acai berry packet (Trader Joes or Wegmans)
      • 1/2 frozen banana
      • Splash water/unsweetened almond milk
      • Toppings- Drippy peanutbutter, unsweetened coconut chips, granola, cacao nibs, berries and bananas, hemp seeds, etc.
    • Directions-
      • Blend the first three ingredients together. Pour into a big bowl. Decorate your bowl and add flavor/texture by sprinkling any of the toppings listed on top your bowl.
  • Fish + microwave sweet potato + steam fresh bag of frozen veggies. Buy individually wrapped frozen fish!
  • Baked potato + toppings. Top potato with diced tomatoes, black beans, avocado, 2% cheddar cheese and/or roasted corn. You can then use the leftover toppings to make quesadillas or salads.

Tip #3: Choose recipes you can make and freeze half for later.

  • Soups- Make a big batch and freeze half for later.
  • Black Bean Burgers or Turkey Burgers- Make the recipe and then freeze half. You can pull one burger out of the freezer at a time.
  • Slow cooker chicken and rice- You can make many variations like chicken teriyaki, sweet and sour chicken, honey chicken, lime chicken, bbq chicken, etc. Throw some rice in the rice cooker or microwave brown minute rice.
  • Casseroles- Once the casserole is baked, put half of it in the freezer for later.

Tip #4: Pick dessert recipes you can refridgerate so they last longer. These are now by go-to’s:

Tip #5: Last, get some ready-prepared foods for the nights you don’t feel like cooking (like Trader Joe’s salads or Amy’s soups with crackers) or get together with friends and cook together!

And as always, we have some more ideas on our Cooking for One Pinterest Board! 

by Elizabeth May, RDN, CSOWM, LDN


What does this year’s theme, “Go Further with Food” make you think of? My first reaction was learning new ways to cook, specifically with fruits and veggies, like spiralizing zucchini, pickling veggies, or creating warm salads.

Here are the key messages as outlined on eatright.org –

1. Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis

2. Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store

3. Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week

4. Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do

5. Continue to use good food safety practices.

6. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week

7. Realize the benefits of healthy eating by consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

So from the key messages, food waste and meal planning seem to take center stage. Let’s focus on food waste, #2 and #3, today.

How much food is wasted in the U.S.?

40% of the food in the U.S. is never eaten. Financially, this adds up to $165 billion/year. While so much food is being wasted, one in six Americans are food insecure. Ironic, isn’t it?

What exactly is food waste?

The USDA Economic Research Service defines food waste as “the component of food loss that occurs when an edible item goes unconsumed, as in food discarded by retailers due to color or appearance and plate waste by consumers”

Where does food waste occur?

1. Farms (One of the biggest uses of land, energy and water; 6 billion lbs. of produce lay in the fields to rot each year)

2. Fishing boats (Estimated that 8% of fish caught are discarded)

3. Packing houses (1/3 of items are discarded due to cosmetic standards)

4. Transportation and Distribution Networks (perishables are vulnerable)

5. Retail Businesses (mostly perishables)

6. Restaurants (especially due to large portions and buffets)

7. Households (50% of food waste happens at this level; the average American family wastes 1,160 lbs. food/year or 25% of what they buy)

Is anything being done to combat this issue?

There is a lack of public awareness about food waste in the U.S. which might explain why this is still such a huge issues and that 50% of food waste happens at the household level. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a goal, for the first time ever, to reduce food waste. In fact, their goal is to reduce waste by 50% in the next 15 years (by 2030). How exactly will this be accomplished? The EPA is partnering with the USDA and influential leaders in food service to accomplish this goal…

Here are the EPA’s two goals:

1. The 2030 FLW reduction goal aims to cut food loss at the retail and consumer level in half, by approximately 66 billion pounds.

2.  The 2030 FLW reduction goal aims to reduce food waste going to landfills by 50 percent to 109.4 pounds per person

So while there is much to be done on a national level (and business level), what can we do on an individual / family level?

•Make a meal plan + check the pantry/fridge while making a grocery list (Use this tool to help!)

Store your perishables properly

•Freeze what you won’t use

•Prep perishables so you eat them

•Have an “eat the pantry” week to clean out the fridge/pantry

•Have a leftovers night 1-2x/week

•Use “ugly produce” in soups, smoothies, casseroles, or baked goods

•Purchase “ugly produce” and try Hungry Harvest if you haven’t already!

•Order what you can finish at restaurants or take home leftovers and plan a time to eat them

•Try your hand at composting

•Donate food you won’t use to Food Rescue or AmpleHarvest (if fruits and veggies) or have friends over to help you!

What resources are there in Philly to combat food waste/hunger?


-Coalition Against Hunger

-Hungry Harvest (produce delivery service)

-Food Connect App (reducing leftover waste)


During National Nutrition Month, ask yourself how you are doing regarding food waste… this is a change that must start with you.






By Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN

Ever feel like you are “so good” during the week, only to “blow it” on the weekend? Weekend eating accounts for 30% of our meals (Friday night to Sunday Night – 7/21 meals), and can really make or break someone’s progress with weight loss. Here are a few tips for improving weekend eating:

1) Stay consistent.
Make your weekend eating look like your weekday eating (for at least two out of meals). If Monday through Friday you’re eating oatmeal for breakfast, a soup/salad combo for lunch, and a home cooked dinner, try to make your weekend look as similar to that as possible, at least for two of those meals. Then if you have a little fun for that third meal, at least the rest of your day looks good.

2) Stay Accountable.
Some ideas…
· Weigh yourself on Friday morning and again on Monday morning
· Continue food journaling throughout the weekend
· Use the buddy system. Find a friend or family member to engage in some healthy behavior with you – maybe going for a job on Saturday or meal prepping together on Sunday afternoon.

3) Watch the clock.
Hopefully you get to sleep in a bit on the weekends, so chances are you won’t be having breakfast at 7:00am like you might during the work-week. That’s OK! But, whenever you do have your first meal, check the time, and then plan on eating 3-4 hours after that. If you’re going more “Netflix & Chill” with your weekend, this applies to you too! Follow the 3-4 hour rule to prevent yourself from endless grazing.

4) Plan ahead.
If you’re eating every 3-4 hours, you may need to pack some snacks for those busy weekends when you’re out and about. KIND bars, trail mix packets and fresh fruit like apples and pears travel well and are easy to store in the car or your bag, so you don’t find yourself skipping meals and overeating later.

5) Imbibe wisely.
Dry wine, light beer or mixed drinks with seltzer tend to be the lowest-cal options. Enjoy your drink, but if you’ll be out for awhile try alternating an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic drink (water, seltzer, unsweetened tea, diet soda). Make sure you eat before heading out! If you have a full belly before the night gets started, you’ll be less likely to snack on bar snacks later.

6) Sweat it out.
If you do find yourself eating (or drinking) a bit more than usual on the weekend, try to compensate by working out a bit harder than usual on those days. Add extra time at the gym, or increase the intensity of your workouts to help burn some additional calories on those days.

Ketogenic Diets Q & A

by Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN


What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high fat, very low-carb diet that has been used in children with epilepsy to help control seizures. Recently, it has become a trendy weight loss diet.

How does it work?
Eating a high fat/low carb diet puts the body in a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic adaptation that has allowed humans to survive on ketones as fuel instead of its regular glucose. Ketones are the result of fat breaking down and can provide energy for the brain when glucose is scarce. Being in a state of ketosis also diminishes cravings and hunger sensations, so it could lead to an overall reduction in food intake.

What foods are allowed on the ketogenic diet?
–       Fats and Oils – Butter, Lard, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, etc
–       Meat and Poultry
–       Seafood
–       Full fat dairy
–       Nuts and Seeds
–       Certain non-starchy vegetables
–       Beverages – Water, broth, coffee, tea, unsweetened coconut and almond milk

What should are not permitted on the ketogenic diet?
It’s recommended that only 5-10% of calories come from carbohydrates, which depending on calorie intake generally means fewer than 30g of carbohydrates a day. This means sugar, fruit, high sugar and high starch vegetables, and grains should be eliminated or eaten in very small quantities.

Will I lose weight?
Probably. Anyone who follows an elimination diet (whether they eliminate gluten/dairy/fat/carbs etc.) will likely lose weight because they also are reducing calories. You also may feel less hungry as ketosis diminishes hunger sensation, so overeating tends not to be a problem

Will I keep the weight off?
Probably not. The ketogenic diet is a difficult, and arguably ‘unhealthy’, diet (due to the reduced fiber and vitamin/mineral content) that is not recommended for the long term. The best ‘diet’ is the one you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life.

What are some pros and cons of the ketogenic diet?


– Probable short-term weight loss
– Diminished feelings of hunger
– Allowed to eat high-fat foods


– Difficult to adhere to long-term (which leads to weight regain)
– Low fiber
– Risk of nutrient insufficiencies
– Side effects such as bad smelling breath, low energy, headaches and constipation
– Elevated LDL cholesterol


Bottom Line:
The ketogenic diet is not recommended for long-term use (unless it is being used as medical nutrition therapy for an individual with epilepsy). It is likely safe for short-term use for weight loss, but it is recommended to incorporate fruits and whole grains back into the diet once a weight maintenance plan is in place. While following a ketogenic diet, take a multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains adequate B vitamins and magnesium.



Can Extremely Fat-Restricted or High-Fat Diets be Effective — and Safe — for Weight Loss?

by Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

‘Tis the season for travel, end-of-year deadlines, festive get-togethers… and for colds and flu. If you or your family are under the weather, or you want to preempt any illness by giving your immune system some reinforcement, read on!

Part of the body’s “microbiota,” probiotics (the “good” bacteria) and prebiotics (the “good” bacteria promoters) are mostly known for promoting good digestion, but they also play vital roles in supporting the strength of your immune system [1]. Approximately 80% of your immune system is in your GI system, and these help replenish your stores of healthy gut bacteria, inhibit growth of unfriendly bacteria, and can also help reduce inflammation.

Probiotics and prebiotics are best utilized in food form (as opposed to supplements) and, fortunately for us, are found in many common ingredients – some of which we may already have stocked at home.

Probiotics are found in:

·         Yogurt (look for packages labeled “Contains Live/Active Cultures”)

·         Buttermilk

·         Aged cheeses

·         Fermented beverages, like kefir and kombucha

·         Fermented foods, like miso, tempeh, kimchi and sauerkraut

·         Soy beverages

Prebiotics are found in:

·         Bananas, apples and berries

·         Onions, leeks and garlic

·         Potatoes

·         Asparagus

·         Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)

·         Dark leafy greens, like dandelion greens, spinach, collards, kale and chard

·         Tomatoes

·         Soybeans and lentils

·         Pistachios and flaxseed

·         Cocoa

·         Rolled oats/oatmeal

·         Whole grains and whole grain flours, including wheat, rye, barley and buckwheat

Food forms of probiotics and prebiotics are further maximized when enjoyed in combination with one another. For example, a bowl of oatmeal topped with banana and a dollop of yogurt; a stir fry with garlic, asparagus, edamame and tempeh; or a homemade pizza on whole wheat crust or a whole grain pita bread with tomato sauce, artichokes, red onion, black olives and Parmesan cheese!

Most of the foods and beverages rich in probiotic and prebiotics are also loaded with many other nutrients important in the fight against infection and illness, like vitamins A and C, folate, zinc, fiber, and plenty of potent antioxidant phytochemicals. In addition, these friendly bacteria help improve our body’s ability to utilize these beneficial nutrients, providing an even bigger immunity bump.

Better still is that pro- and prebiotics have also been linked to improvements in treatment or prevention of a variety of other health issues [2], including IBS (particularly reducing abdominal pain, gas and bloating), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, infections of the urinary tract, and potentially type 2 diabetes [3], bladder cancer recurrence, and eczema in children.

This cold and flu season, and all year round, add a wide variety of probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods and beverages to your daily diet to help support a strong, healthy immune system and ward off illness. Be well!


1. Giorgetti G, Brandimarte G, Fabiocchi F, et al. Interactions between Innate Immunity, Microbiota, and Probiotics. Jour Immun Res. 2015;2015:501361. doi:10.1155/2015/501361.

2. Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publishing. (2014) The Benefits of Probiotic Bacteria. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-benefits-of-probiotics. Updated 7 June 2017. Accessed 30 November 2017.

3. Bakalar, N. (24 November 2014) Yogurt May Lower Diabetes Risk. The New York Times Well Blog. Retrieved from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/24/yogurt-may-lower-diabetes-risk/?_r=1. Accessed 30 November 2017.

Top 10 Q & A about Sugar and Sugar Substitutes

by Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN

1) What’s considered added vs. natural sugar? Added = white or brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave, molasses or syrup and products made with these foods. Natural = sugars found in fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose)

2) How much added sugar are we consuming? The average American consumes 20 tablespoons of added sugar a day. YIKES! About half that is coming from Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs).

3) How much added sugar should we consume? Depends who you ask. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 6 teaspoons for women, or 100 calories a day and 9 teaspoons for men or 150 calories a day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans of 2015 recommends 10% of total calories or less while the World Health Organization is the most stringent at 5% of total calories or less. One thing we can all agree on – less is better!

4) Do we NEED sugar? No. We do need blood glucose, which comes from complex carbohydrates in our diet. But we could survive without any dietary sugar!

5) Does sugar cause obesity? No one food alone causes obesity. Consumption of sugary foods and drinks correlates with a higher calorie diet overall, which contributes to weight gain.

6) Does sugar cause health issues? Sugar consumption is correlated with weight gain, and weight gain is a risk factor for many diseases. So, it certainly may increase risk for disease. Interestingly, separate from weight, sugar consumption is also associated with the following diseases: high blood lipids and insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and visceral adiposity. Even in those with a healthy BMI, sugar consumption can increase risk of these diseases.

7) What sugar substitutes are available? Aspartame (Equal), Acesulfame-K (Sweet One), Neotame, Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), Sucralose (Splenda), Stevia (Truvia), Sugar alcohols (end with -ol, like xylitol or sorbitol)

8) What does the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics say? From the AND’s Position Paper: “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive sweeteners and nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS) when consumed within an eating plan that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes, as well as individual health goals and personal preference. A preference for sweet taste is innate and sweeteners can increase the pleasure of eating.”

9) Do sugar substitutes cause cancer? Currently, the research points to no. From the National Cancer Institute: “Researchers have conducted studies on the safety of sugar substitutes saccharin cyclamate, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose and neotame and found no evidence that they cause cancer in humans. 
All of these artificial sweeteners, except for cyclamate, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sale in the United States.”

10) Are there any valid concerns with sugar substitutes? Yes, a growing body of research points to sugar substitutes leading to health issues in animal studies. Some of these issues include: increased food consumption, lower post-prandial thermogenesis, increased weight gain, greater percent body fat, decreased glucose tolerance, greater fasting glucose and hyperinsulinemia.

So, while they may be SAFE for consumption, they may not exactly be healthful.