Uncommon Super Foods

Super foods have been all the rage for the past few years. We’ve all heard about certain super foods that are darlings in the media like kale, blueberries, acai berries and salmon to name a few. What about other super foods that maybe aren’t so sexy like sardines, organ meats, and fermented foods? These are definitely super foods! They just aren’t very common in the U.S. right now, although they used to be.

Wild caught sardines are not only a good source of protein but they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, calcium, B12, iron, and many other nutrients. Since they are at the bottom of the food chain, they are also low in mercury and other contaminates like PCB’s, making them an especially good option for kids and pregnant women!

Canned sardines are the easiest to find around here. Choose ones that are packed in water or olive oil.

Honestly, I can eat sardines right out of the can, but I understand that not everyone is like that. If you’ve never tried sardines, buy the ones that say boneless and skinless to start with. They are just like canned tuna once you mash them up.

Organ meats
Organ meats are the original super food. In some traditional cultures, only the organ meats were eaten; the lean muscle meats (what we eat now) were given to the dogs. The liver was especially prized. Eating liver was thought to give you great strength and could have magical powers. Some believe it has an “anti-fatigue factor” as well.

Well, liver IS an amazing source of many nutrients- vitamins A, D, E, K, all the B vitamins (especially folic acid), copper and iron. It is also very high in CoQ 10 which is needed for energy production in the body- maybe this is the “anti-fatigue factor”?

Organ meats like liver were very common, even in the U.S., not too long ago. I have an old cookbook of my grandmother’s from the 1930’s and it is loaded with organ meat recipes. You don’t need to eat organ meats all the time or even in large amounts to get the benefits. A few ounces a week is enough, and that’s easy to do if you are mixing it in with other foods if you don’t like the taste. The recipe below is a great place to start to get the benefits of organ meats like liver. Choose organ meats from healthy animals, like pasture raised or grass fed local beef, pastured chickens, etc. (HERE are some resources).

Fermented Foods
Fermenting has been a traditional food practice in almost every culture around the world for centuries. With the fairly recent boom in research (and media) around probiotics (and our gut microbiome), fermented foods are getting a bit of a comeback. Fermented foods are loaded with probiotics (beneficial bacteria for our GI tract). Naturally fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and other fermented veggies are becoming more and more popular.

Probiotics have many health benefits like improving your immune system, improving your digestion, and some studies say that they can even help you lose weight.

True fermented foods will be in the refrigerated section of the store, so the majority of pickles and sauerkraut out there are NOT fermented, they are just in brine. You want to look for “live food” or “contains live cultures” on the label. Aim for a variety of fermented foods too, they all contain different strains of probiotics. You may also want to start slow, with small portions. If you’re not taking any probiotics or you’re not used to eating fermented foods, and you drink a whole bottle of kombucha, for example, you may end up with a horrible stomach ache. Go slow. Most traditional fermented foods were used like condiments with a meal, so try small amounts each day to build up a healthy microbiome. Oh, and don’t heat up your fermented foods, this will kill all the good probiotics.

Want to make your own fermented foods? Check out:

Grain Free Sardine Fish Cakes
Adapted from Ditchthewheat.com
Serves 2


This quick and easy recipe is a simple way to incorporate sardines into your diet, especially if you’re a little hesitant to try them. These little cakes were so good, they were devoured just on their own. They would also be delicious over a mixed green salad with a lemon vinaigrette. Yum!



1 can of sardines (around 84 grams when drained)
1 egg
1 ½ Tbsp of coconut flour
1 Tbsp of Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped green onion
? tsp of salt
¼ cup almond flour for coating the cakes
1 Tbsp olive oil


  1. Place the drained sardines, egg, coconut flour, Dijon mustard, parsley, green onion, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until all combined. Roll into small or medium sized balls (about 4-6) and flatten with the palm of your hands. Dip the fish cakes in a small bowl of almond flour. Evenly coat both sides. sardines_step1
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over low to medium heat. Cook the fish cakes, turning once.
  3. The cakes are done when both sides are golden and crispy.


Beef Liver and Onion Meatballs
Adapted from PrimalPalate.com
Makes 4 servings


This is a good way to start loving liver! With all the spices in this recipe, you won’t even know it’s in there.



1 lb grass fed ground beef
¼ lb pastured beef liver finely diced, or ground in a food processor
½ cup onion, diced
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine ground beef and beef liver.
  3. Season with smoked paprika, garlic powder, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Continue to mix with hands until meat is equally seasoned.
  4. Mix in the diced onion.
  5. Form meat mixture into balls, slightly larger than an ounce, and place in a baking dish. Bake meat balls for about 25 minutes.


Note: You can increase the amount of liver to increase the nutrient content to about 50% beef/liver ratio.

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Which Nondairy Milk is the Best?

This is a question I get pretty often. It’s not an easy question to answer either. It depends on what your goal is. Do you want a milk that’s low in calories or do you want one that’s high in protein? Maybe taste is your only criteria. Luckily, if you can’t or don’t want to drink cow’s milk there are many options in the grocery store these days.

The most common nondairy milks are soy, coconut, almond and rice. But if you peruse the aisles at stores like Whole Foods you will also find hemp milk, oat milk, flax seed milk, cashew milk, and a few others.

Most of the nondairy milks have added vitamins and minerals to mimic what would be in cow’s milk. Most add calcium and vitamin D; some add other vitamins too.

Let’s take a closer look at the most common ones:

Soy Milk

  • Mild "beany" flavor
  • 80-120 calories per cup
  • Typically 5-8g protein per cup
  • Read THIS blog for info on the controversies of soy

Coconut Milk

  • Mild coconut flavor
  • 45-90 calories per cup
  • No protein
  • Not the same as the canned coconut milks

Almond Milk

  • Typically a mild nutty flavor
  • Many people prefer this nondairy milk (taste wise)
  • 30-100 calories per cup
  • Very little protein (most around 1 g per cup)

Rice Milk

  • Mild flavor
  • Some brands can be gritty
  • 90-160 calories per cup
  • No protein

Many of the nondairy milks have added sugar. If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake make sure to buy one that is unsweetened. Almost all of them have some kind of thickener and some have preservatives as well. Carrageenan is one thickener that is in many "natural" foods. Some studies implicate carrageenan in certain digestive diseases and inflammation, but other studies show no adverse effects.

One thing to keep in mind is that most nondairy milks are highly processed; loaded with sugars, preservatives and artificial ingredients to enhance flavor and extend shelf life; and not exactly a whole, real food. If you want to try some of these, at least shop in the refrigerated section; these milks will typically have fewer preservatives than the shelf stable options. Pay attention to the ingredients! If it’s loaded with things you can’t pronounce, then its best to just put it back on the shelf.

Making your own nondairy milk is actually pretty easy, and I think they taste much better than the stuff on the shelves. Also, YOU control what goes in and what doesn’t go in (sugar, thickeners, preservatives, etc.).

Almond milk is a great one to start with. You can follow this same method with most any raw nut.

Almond Milk


1 cup raw almonds
3 ½ cups water (more if you want it thinner and less if you want it thicker)
Cheesecloth or a nut milk bag


1. In a large bowl, combine almonds with enough water to cover by a few inches. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days (the longer they soak, the better the almond milk).

2. You will see that the almonds plump up!

3. Rinse and drain almonds, then place in blender or food processor with 3 ½ cups of water. Blend on low and work up to high speed for at least 1 to 2 minutes. If you are using a food processor, blend on high for 4 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through.

4. Line another bowl with the cheese cloth and pour pureed almond mixture over the cheese cloth.

5. Gather on all corners to form a "bag" and start squeezing.

6. Continue to wring and squeeze until all the liquid is out and you are left with dry almond pulp.

7. Pour the almond milk into a glass container (with tight fitting lid) and refrigerate. You will want to use the almond milk within 3 days.


  • If you don’t have a very powerful blender, add just a little water to start with and then once the almonds are blended add in the rest.
  • You can add vanilla, cinnamon or other flavorings. You can also sweeten the almond milk if you want to by adding honey, maple syrup or even dates while it’s in the blender.
  • You can use cheesecloth, muslin, swiss voile or special nut milk bags to filter out the pulp.

Nutrition Content: the nutrition content is hard to determine since it will depend on how much water you use, how much pulp is strained out, etc. This recipe, using 3-4 cups of water, will be about 40 calories , 4g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 5mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 0g sugar), and 1g protein per cup.

What to do with the pulp? Don’t toss it!!!

  • Use it to make crackers like THESE or THESE
  • Stir 1-2 Tablespoons into oatmeal or add to a smoothie
  • Dehydrate into almond meal (and use in recipes like THIS)

For a slightly more luxurious milk try...

Lavender Infused Walnut Milk
Recipe adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs



1 cup raw walnuts
½ cup lavender flowers
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 cups water (depending on how thick you want it)
Honey or maple syrup to sweeten (optional)


1. Soak walnuts in water overnight. Strain and rinse well. Place walnuts in food processor or blender with 2-4 cups water, lavender, and vanilla. Blend. While the food processor is running, drizzle in a little honey or maple syrup.

2. Line a bowl with cheesecloth and pour pureed mixture into bowl. Strain off as much liquid as possible and save your lavender walnut pulp!

3. You can store the walnut pulp in the fridge and use in oatmeal, smoothies, cookies, or recipes like THIS! Yum! Your walnut milk should keep in the fridge for about one week, the fresher the better!

Nutrition Content: nutrition content is hard to determine since it will depend on various factors such as water content, added sweetener, amount of pulp left in or strained out, etc.

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The Truth About Taters

Today is American Diabetes Association Alert Day®: a one-day "wake-up call" to bring attention to the increasing prevalence of diabetes worldwide. Whether or not you have diabetes, today is a perfect time to step back and think about your current lifestyle and what you can do NOW to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

No More White Food?

When people learn they’re at risk for or have diabetes, the initial reaction is often "I can never eat white food again"- no potatoes, no pasta, no bread, etc. While there is some truth to this message, in reality we should be focusing on cutting back on the amount of refined, simple carbohydrates we consume.

Simple carbohydrates, also referred to as high-glycemic foods, are found naturally in fruit and milk and in processed and refined foods like sugar, syrup, honey, sodas, candy, cakes and sweets. They digest very quickly and provide a fast source of energy. When eaten alone, these foods cause a rapid spike in blood glucose levels, followed by an equally quick glucose crash. Over time, consuming a diet high in simple carbohydrates not only increases your risk for developing diabetes, but also robs you of energy and productivity.

In contrast, complex carbohydrates, or lower-glycemic foods, take hours to digest, allowing the glucose to slowly trickle into the bloodstream and be used more efficiently by the body. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods like whole grains, beans, oatmeal, legumes, some vegetables, etc.

Instead of completely cutting out "all things white," focus on choosing healthy sources of carbohydrates from complex carbohydrates and when you do choose simple carbohydrates, opt for naturally occurring sources like fruit and milk.

Remember to ALWAYS ANCHOR your carbohydrates with a lean protein or healthy fat! Check out our post on No Naked Carbs for more information on "anchoring."

Tame the Sugar Rush

Potatoes: to eat or not to eat? Americans consume an average of 130 pounds of potatoes a year, with white potatoes accounting for 32% of all vegetables consumed by adults. That’s a lot of potatoes and more than any of us really need!

Potatoes often get a bad rap, but in reality they’re a great source of many key nutrients including potassium, vitamin C, and vitamins B2 and B3. The problem comes in how much we eat, how we prepare them (deep-fried, au gratin) and what we pile on them (cheese, bacon, ketchup, sour cream). Most modern varieties of potatoes are also naturally high-glycemic.

However, the following tips will help "tame the sugar rush" that can be caused by potatoes:

  • Choose New Potatoes: new potatoes (small red, white or boiling potatoes) create a lower spike in blood sugars compared to old or baking potatoes like Russets, sometimes up to half as much! They also have thinner skins which make it more palatable to eat.
  • Eat the Skins: potato skins contain about half of the antioxidant activity of the entire potato and are high in fiber. Fiber slows digestion, giving potatoes a lower-glycemic value.
  • Pair with a Fat: add a source of healthy fat to your potatoes such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts or seeds. Fats help to slow the digestion process which, in turn, will lower the rise in blood sugars.
  • Let them Chill: allow potatoes to chill for at least 24 hours after cooking before eating. This process magically lowers the blood sugar response by as much as 25%! The cool temperature converts the starches into a more resistant form that is broken down more slowly. Re-heating does not impact the lower-glycemic status so bake today, chill tonight, and re-heat tomorrow!

The recipe below incorporates all of these glycemic-lowering tricks. Throw everything into a slow cooker when you get home from work and it’ll be done before you go to bed. Let it chill overnight in the fridge and re-heat for dinner the next night!

Source: Robinson, Jo. Eating on the Wild Side. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Recipe Adapted From: A Year of Slow Cooking
Serves 10


5 lbs purple and/or red potatoes, skin on, quartered
20 garlic cloves, peeled (about 2 heads of garlic)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Place quartered potatoes into a crock pot (leave the skin on for extra color, texture, and fiber).
  2. Toss in garlic cloves and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour in chicken broth.
  3. Cover and cook on Low 6-7 hours or High 3-4 hours. Potato pieces should slide off a fork and garlic should be golden brown and pretty shiny. If you have a lot of liquid in the bottom of the crock pot, drain off some of the extra liquid.
  4. Add softened cream cheese and use an immersion hand blender or potato masher to mash potatoes until creamy. Stir in parmesan cheese.

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Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right

Shouldn’t you always "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right?" Eating healthy, nutritious foods should never have to feel drab, plain, boring and tasteless. March is National Nutrition Month® and this year’s theme focuses on combining taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that not only taste good but are good for you.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "research confirms that taste tops nutrition as the main reason why one food is purchased over another. While social, emotional and health factors also play a role, the foods people enjoy are likely the ones they eat most." So why not have the food you enjoy also be healthy? This task truly isn’t as impossible as many of us think.

To begin to enjoy the taste of eating right, START WITH YOUR SENSES:

  • LISTEN to the crunch of fresh vegetables in a hot, sizzling pan.
  • SMELL the amazing fragrances of new herbs and spices.
  • TOUCH your food, use your hands for mixing, and experiment with new kitchen gadgets. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy in the kitchen!
  • SEE a variety of colors and shapes on your plate. Try to eat as many colors of the rainbow at every meal as possible (ROY G. BIV)- make it a new family game!
  • TASTE new flavor, texture, and temperature combinations when preparing meals.

Who says broccoli always has to be steamed? Personally, steamed broccoli (while a great standby) can get boring pretty quickly. Why not toss it with olive oil, herbs and spices and let it roast in the oven or crisp up on the grill? Changing the way you typically think a food SHOULD be prepared completely changes the taste, texture, and flavor profile. You never know, you could find a new favorite vegetable that you previously had to force yourself to eat just by simply using your senses and trying new cooking methods!

Let us know 3 ways you can prepare broccoli that tastes great and is good for you. We'd love to hear your ideas!

Visit the National Nutrition Month website for more information, great tips and information, and free downloadable materials.

Source: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month®- March 2014


Mighty Mini Meatloaves
Recipe From: joybauer.com
Serves 6

Traditional meatloaf made with white bread and loads of ketchup has about 350 calories and 20 grams of fat per serving. Try this recipe for a nutritional twist on a classic that clocks in at just 160 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving. It’ll leave you "Enjoying the Taste of Eating Right" and wanting more!

The fun presentation makes this great for kids (and they’ll never suspect the hidden veggies!) and also serves as built-in portion control for kids of all ages!



1 lb lean ground turkey breast
1 small zucchini, grated
1 cup oats, dry
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
¼ cup skim milk
¼ cup fresh basil or 1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 egg whites
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Divide meat mixture evenly and place into prepared muffin pan. You should be able to completely fill 12 full-sized muffin cups.

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until tops begin to brown and turkey is completely cooked (check this using a thermometer; once the muffins reach 165°F, they’re done).

Note: You can also make this in a traditional loaf pan. Cover meatloaf with foil and place in pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove foil and let cook another 10-15 minutes or until tops begin to brown and turkey is completely cooked.


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6 Nutrients That Can Improve Your Mood: Part 2

In Part 1, we reviewed 3 nutrients that help stabilize moods: Folate, Omega 3 Fatty Acids and L-Theanine. Read further to learn 3 additional nutrients that have a positive impact on our moods and energy levels.


Magnesium is crucial for more than 300 body functions including anti-anxiety benefits. Though abundant in whole foods, magnesium is often stripped from packaged foods through food processing techniques. The RDA for magnesium is roughly 300-400 mg per day. However, most people obtain only 200 mg or less each day from their diets.

Food sources of magnesium include:

  • Whole grains (buckwheat, quinoa, wheat bran, millet, brown rice)
  • Beans (soybeans, pintos, black eyed peas, lentils)
  • Leafy greens (beet, collard and dandelion greens, spinach, Swiss chard)
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, peanuts, pecans)

The RDA for magnesium for adults is:
19-30 years old: 310 mg/day for women, 400 mg/day for men
31 years and older: 320 mg/day for women, 420 mg/day for men

Strive for 5-6 servings of high magnesium foods every day to achieve optimal intake and to improve your mood.
(Note that many high magnesium foods are also high in folate-another mood boosting nutrient).

Click here for a list of high magnesium foods.

Supplement Facts:
Because of its calming effect, when taken at bedtime, magnesium glycinate may assist with restful sleep. Talk to your health care provider or nutritionist about whether magnesium glycinate is appropriate for you. If so, look for a high quality magnesium glycinate supplement (like Pure Encapsulations®, Thorne®, or KAL®) at Whole Foods or on-line. In addition, magnesium glycinate can be compounded at a compounding pharmacy (prescription required).

For more information about Magnesium, check out these articles from NIH and the University of Maryland Medical Center.

5. LOW GLYCEMIC CARBOHYDRATES (high fiber, slow digesting)

Did you know carbohydrates boost serotonin, the "happy" brain chemical? Serotonin levels can decrease in the winter months due to lack of sunlight. This can cause some folks to crave carbs and over-reach for sugar and white, processed starches. Unfortunately, these high glycemic carbs (quick digestion followed by a fast spike and crash in blood glucose) can rob your energy and perpetuate a sugar craving. This scenario can also create the potential for winter weight gain.

Break this cycle by foregoing the sweets and choose low glycemic, slow digesting carbs instead. Low glycemic carbs are a healthy way to boost serotonin levels. In addition, they fill you up quicker and keep you full longer. This eliminates glucose spikes and crashes which can help prevent mood swings.

Remember to keep your portion of low glycemic, starchy carbs to ¼ of your plate.

Sources of Low Glycemic Carbs include:

  • Beans (pintos, limas, black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, lentils)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, brown rice, wild rice, steel cut oats)
  • Winter squashes (butternut and acorn)
  • Sweet potatoes


Another way to stabilize your mood and energy level is to "anchor" all of your carbs (at meals AND snacks) with a lean protein and a little healthy fat. Lean protein promotes healthy glucose levels by slowing digestion and releasing glucose slowly into the blood stream. Like low glycemic carbohydrates, lean protein prevents glucose spikes and crashes which helps prevent mood swings.

Sources of lean protein include:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Bison
  • Beef
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Tofu and tempeh

Digging Deeper

If healthy nutrition and lifestyle efforts (regular exercise and daily exposure to natural sunlight) do not improve your moods, have a conversation with your primary care provider about a variety of treatment options.

-Institute for Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, 2004.
-Hyman, Mark, The UltraMind Solution, 2008.
-Dietary Supplements Fact Sheets, National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, 2012.
-Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide, University of Maryland Medical Center, 2013.
-Korb, Alex, PhD, Boosting Your Serotonin Activity, Psychology Today, 2011.
-Consumerlab.com, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash
Makes 8 Servings


2 lbs cubed butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion
1/2-1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sage
Vegetable cooking spray
1/3 teaspoon white sugar

- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice Vidalia onion into very thin slices.
- Place squash cubes and onion slices in large zip-top bag and add olive oil. Seal bag and toss vegetables until evenly coated in oil.
- Spray baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray.
- Place squash and onions in a single layer on baking sheet and sprinkle Lawry’s salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and sage evenly over vegetables.
- Before putting into the oven, lightly sprinkle sugar over the top of the vegetables.

- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until squash and onions are golden brown and cubes are tender on the inside.


Click here to find recipes for Salmon and Sautéed Greens in Part 1.

Pinto Beans with Herbs
Makes 6 (1/2 cup) Servings
(You can also use cannellini, kidney beans or black-eyed peas)


3 cups cooked pinto beans from dried or canned (2-15 oz. cans rinsed and drained)
1 medium to large Vidalia onion
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp crushed rosemary
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried sage
2½ cups water
1½ Tbsp olive oil


- Combine all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to LOW and simmer for 20 minutes until onions are tender and clear.


Click here to find the recipe for Sautéed Greens in Part 1.

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6 Nutrients That Can Improve Your Mood - Part 1

No doubt many folks feel an energy slump in the winter months. Short days and long nights plus the added drain of gray or rainy days can dampen our spirits.

Did you know certain nutrients may help calm anxiety or boost your spirits? If you feel a drop in your mood in the winter (or any time of year), focus on these nutrients and the foods in which they’re found to get an extra emotional advantage.


Folate, found in leafy green vegetables, is an important B vitamin that, along with Vitamins B6 and B12, is involved in neurological function including mood management. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate which is found in nutritional supplements and fortified foods. Genomics researchers have discovered that many people have a gene defect that prevents them from converting the folic acid that has been added to foods and supplements into the usable form of folate that is found in foods. For this reason, it is a good idea to rely on foods naturally high in folate to meet your RDA.

Foods known to be high in folate include:

  • Liver
  • Leafy greens
  • Black-eye peas and other beans and lentils
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli

The RDA for folate is 400 mcg per day for adult men and women (600 mcg for pregnant women, 500 mcg for breastfeeding women).

Aim for 5-6 servings of high folate foods every day to meet the RDA.

Click here for a list of folate-containing foods.

Supplement Facts:
If you do take a folic acid supplement or multivitamin containing folic acid, look for a quality brand like Pure Encapsulations® or Thorne® that contains folate in the form of methyl-tetrahydrofolate (MTHF) instead of folic acid to help insure it is properly absorbed and utilized by your body.

For more information about Folate, click here.


Omega 3 fats from oily fish (EPA and DHA) have been shown in several small studies to improve mild to moderate depression. Though plant sources of omega 3s (ALA) can be found in walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil and soybeans, the omega 3s from fish have shown the most benefit for improving depression. An added bonus of omega 3 fats is their heart health benefits and potential anti-inflammatory properties.
Strive for at least two 6-ounce servings weekly of the following fatty fish:

  • Wild Alaskan salmon
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • North Atlantic mackerel or chub - (Not King Mackerel which is high in mercury)

Supplement Facts:
If you’re considering a fish oil supplement, choose a high quality brand like:

  • Nordic Naturals®
  • Carlson®
  • Barleans®

A dose of 650-1000 mg of combined EPA + DHA (check the Nutrition Facts label not the front label for content) is a recommended daily dose. Check with your health care provider to determine if an omega 3 supplement is appropriate for you.


L-Theanine is a water soluble amino acid found in tea that has been shown to improve cognition (alertness and attention) and relax the mind without causing drowsiness.

This calming effect is even proposed to override the stimulant effect of the caffeine in tea which is why some nutritionists and researchers recommend tea instead of coffee. As an added bonus, L-Theanine is a powerful antioxidant.


Food Sources of L-Theanine include:

  • Green Tea
  • Black Tea
  • Bay bolete mushrooms

Leading nutrition researchers recommend drinking 4 cups of green or black tea daily to enhance mental alertness and calm anxiety (and for heart health and cancer prevention). If the caffeine is a problem for you, choose a naturally decaffeinated variety.

-Institute for Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, 2004
-Hyman, Mark, The UltraMind Solution, 2008.
-Weil, Andrew, Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, 2014
-National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, 2012
-Consumerlab.com, 2014


Maple-Glazed Salmon
Makes 4 Servings
Recipe adapted from Health.com


1 pound skinless salmon fillets
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ TBSP maple syrup
2 tsp. grainy mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of ground cumin (opt.)


- Preheat oven to Broil.
- Line a shallow broiling pan with foil.
- Spray foil lightly with vegetable cooking spray.
- Brush salmon on all sides with olive oil.


- Arrange salmon in single layer in broiling pan.
- In a bowl, mix the maple syrup and remaining ingredients; spread onto salmon.




- Broil salmon for 6 minutes or until desired doneness.

Sautéed Swiss Chard
Makes 3 Servings
(You can cook most leafy greens this way)


1 lb. Swiss chard
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper


- Wash all Swiss chard leaves and pat dry with paper towels


- Trim spine from each leaf (you can omit this step if you like more crunch- extra fiber!)









- Cut leaves into bite size pieces.









- Heat olive oil in a pan over high heat for about 30 seconds.








- Carefully drop chopped Swiss chard into the hot olive oil with tongs.

 - Let sit for about 10 seconds then begin to slowly toss and rotate chard pieces so that they become coated with oil and slowly begin to wilt. This step takes about 1 minute.




- Cook until desired tenderness.


- Add salt and pepper to taste.




Look for 3 more mood-boosting nutrients in "Nutrients to Improve Your Mood-Part 2" on Wednesday, February 26th.

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I’m usually not one for gadgets. I tend to like practical things that I will use often. However, when I started seeing different recipes around the internet using zucchini, butternut squash or sweet potato noodles, I was intrigued!

The Paderno World Cuisine Spiral Vegetable Slicer or "The Spirilizer" has become a foodie phenomenon in the last few months. It’s relatively cheap (around $30), so I thought I’d give it a shot.

This is a great option for "pasta" if you are gluten free, lowering your carbohydrate intake or simply trying to increase your veggie intake!

It comes with 3 different blades, 2 for noodles and one for ribbon cuts.

It’s very simple to use. It has suction cups on the bottom of the 4 legs so that you can easily secure it to the counter.

I first made noodles out of zucchini, this was the easiest. Just cut the ends off the zucchini (cut in half if it’s a big one) and push the circle end of the blade in one end and the teeth of the spirilizer into the other side of the vegetable. Then you just turn the handle clockwise (it can help to hold on to the other handle for stability too). The zoodles will come out the other side of the blade.

Since zucchini has a high water content, you may want to get rid of some of that water before you use them (so it doesn’t water down your sauce). All you need to do is lay out a few layers of paper towels (or tea towels) on a cookie sheet, spread out the zoodles and sprinkle them with a little salt (this will encourage the water to come out). Let them sit for about 30 minutes.

You can then just eat them raw, or you can toss them in with your sauce and let it cook together for a few minutes.

The next one I tried was butternut squash. This one was a little more difficult, but still pretty simple. The blades on the spirlizer are very sharp! See the recipe below.

You can do this with many vegetables, carrots, beets, apples, basically anything that is somewhat straight and solid. I think I’m going to try sweet potatoes next! Uh, swoodles?


Spicy Butternut Squash Noodles with Sage

Makes 4 Servings
This super simple and quick cooking side dish would go perfectly with chicken or pork!



1 medium butternut squash
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil or ghee
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 fresh sage leaves
Pinch of nutmeg
½ Tablespoon red pepper flakes (or to taste if you don’t like things too spicy)


1. Cut the top (solid) end off the butternut squash and peel.

2. Using the spiral vegetable slicer, make the butternut squash noodles.

3. In a medium to large skillet heat the olive oil or ghee over medium heat. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and sage leaves. Cook stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the butternut squash noodles and toss.

4. Let them cook for 2 minutes and toss again. Cook until tender (around 5 minutes).

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New Year's Resolutions?

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Do you typically achieve them?

Studies say that only about 40-50% of us make New Year’s Resolutions each year, and unfortunately very few of us actually succeed.

Why is that?

Were they unrealistic? Did we prepare to succeed? Were we ready to make a change?

There is some controversy around making New Year’s resolutions; some experts say that you are most likely to make a change when you are ready to make a change. This may or may not coincide with January 1st. Others argue that January 1st is the perfect time for a "fresh start" or a clean slate.

So, how do you know if you’re ready to make a change? One way is to simply listen to how you talk to yourself. Sometimes it’s just semantics.

A key way to know if you are ready for change is if you are still using the word "try." If, for example, you say "I will try to eat 2 servings of vegetables with dinner 4 times this week", or "I will try to make it to the gym 3 days this week," you are leaving it up to many factors (convenience, perceived time, other priorities, etc.).

When you make a decision and commit to it (i.e. you’re ready for change), you will find a way to get it done, even when it’s not convenient or you are not feeling motivated.

Not ready for a change yet. How can you get ready?

Think about why you want to change, not to just lose weight or be more active for example, but why do you want those things. Maybe so you can be around for your children or grandchildren, or maybe to have the energy to enjoy certain activities. Ask yourself "what will be different, and better, when I am living a healthier lifestyle and taking care of myself?" How will being at a healthy weight (or healthier in general) allow me to be a better parent, friend, co-worker, volunteer, partner, etc.? This is what will help you stay committed to your goals even when you don’t feel like it. It is easier to do the things you need to, day to day, when you have a greater purpose for making tough choices.

It’s not enough to want it; you have to take the time, put in the work, and make this journey about self-improvement and self-care.

Also, make sure you are prepared. We’ve all likely heard the quote, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." This is so true! For any goal, health related or not, you have to plan and prepare to be successful.

Don’t forget to check out last January’s blog on how to set those goals!

Are you making New Year’s Resolutions? If so, share them below in the comments.

Recovering from the holiday feasting!

Many times after eating "not so good stuff" for a while, my body craves vegetables. What I think it’s actually craving is all the amazing nutrients in those vegetables. This is one salad that has it covered! It’s loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats, many of the things needed to support our bodies own detox process and support our immune function!

Detox Salad
Adapted From fedandfit.com
Makes 4 big servings


This recipe is quick and easy to put together if you use a food processor. If you don’t have one, you can shred the beets on a cheese grater, and just slice the cabbage very thin. But really, if you don’t have a food processor, think about getting one. It is a staple in my kitchen! I use it at least once a week. It can make prep time super easy and quick!




½ head green cabbage
3 large beets
1 bunch dinosaur (lacinato) kale
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
Zest from 1 lemon

Detox Salad Dressing
Juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup sunbutter OR ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated (or more if you like ginger)
¼ cup raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt


Detox Salad
1. Shred cabbage in a food processor.


2. Peel and shred beets.


3. Slice kale into thin slices. Discard the bottom few inches (or toss in compost or save for a soup).


4. Chop the cilantro.


5. Zest the lemon.


6. Then combine all the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl.


Salad Dressing
1. If you are making the sunflower seed butter place, ½ cup raw sunflower seeds in food processor for about 5 minutes, or until "buttered."


2. Combine all dressing ingredients (lemon juice, sunbutter, grated ginger, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and salt) in a food processor or blender and blend for 1-2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.


3. Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss well.


4. Let sit for about an hour (if in the fridge, let sit for a few hours). I found this salad to be even better then next day. This would be a great salad to make on the weekend and take for lunch (with a lean protein) during the workweek.

5. Enjoy!



Nutrition Information Per Serving: 190 Calories, 8 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 390 mg sodium, 25 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 8 grams protein


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Sweet Season for Giving

We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who donated their leftover (and excess) Halloween candy this year, you outdid yourselves!! We tipped the scales at more than 220 pounds of candy- 65 more pounds than we collected last year!

Wondering what happened to all that Halloween candy? Well, good news! We were able to reach out to several local organizations that were extremely appreciative of your donations.

Over 50 pounds of candy was donated to the Neighbor to Neighbor/Seeds of Hope Community Fair that was held on November 2nd.

  • Over 500 youth were in attendance and Richelle from Neighbor to Neighbor said, "When I saw all the candy from SAS, I was AMAZED-wow!! You could not have bestowed it on more grateful recipients than our kids. Thank you."

The remaining 170 pounds of candy was donated to NC Packs 4 Patriots. The candy, along with other items such as holiday decorations, games, food, toiletries, etc, will be distributed to our deserving service men and women, both local and deployed.

  • Barbara Whitehead and Keith Stallings said, "The donations you provided really wowed a group of folks from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and another group from Fort Bragg who were at the center. They were thrilled to see everything that we delivered on your behalf. The Halloween candy was a big hit!"

Once again, the SAS family has displayed a kindness that is very appropriate for the holiday season. Thank you for putting your candy to a good cause; Treat or Trade was yet again a huge success!!

Don’t Forget to Care for YOU This Holiday Season

With the holidays quickly approaching, most of us are busy with holiday parties, family gatherings, and last minute shopping trips. We are so focused on giving to others that we often forget to take time for ourselves. This holiday season, try to not abandon your own health goals, using our Holiday Eating Survival Tips to help you have a nourishing holiday with food that tastes good, feels good, and is good for you.

Take a Dip!

These unique and thoughtful ornaments make great gifts for your favorite host/hostess or for that person who has everything. They’re complete with all the herbs and spices needed to whip together a festive dip in seconds-great for those unexpected holiday guests!

Holiday Dip Mix Ornaments
From: Bubble Nature Creations

What You’ll Need
Small to medium glass ornaments from a local craft store (any shape you like!)
Clear tape
Aluminum Foil
Various herbs and spices for dip mixes


1. Remove tops and clean each ornament with warm, soapy water. Rinse well and let dry. Make sure the ornaments are completely dry before filling!

2. To ensure that ornaments won’t chip at the opening, secure a small piece of clear tape around the rim of the opening. 


3. Mix spices, according to dip recipes. Click here for recipes to make Fiesta Dip Mix, Dill Dip Mix and Ranch Herb Dip and Dressing Mix or create your own mix! Recipes make approximately 2 tablespoons each (just the right amount of seasoning for a bowl of dip!).

4. Fill ornaments with spice mix using a funnel. NOTE: if you don’t have a funnel, place spice mix on a piece of parchment paper and fold to create a point (think the shape of an ice cream cone). 

5. Wrap a small piece of aluminum foil around the opening of each ornament to help prevent the spices from spilling out. 

6. Replace the ornament tops. The metal wires will puncture the foil, but should not create a hole big enough that the spices would come out. Shake each ornament to ensure everything stays in place. If not, repeat the foil process. 

7. Place a card on each ornament with the dip mix name and directions on how to make each dip (ie: Add ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, etc). You can handwrite the cards or print them on the computer. I attached mine with a festive piece of curling ribbon.

Click here for a printer-friendly version of how to create Holiday Dip Mix Ornaments.

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Add a POP to Your Holidays

Pomegranates are popping up everywhere and are in everything from ice cream and rice cakes to body wash and even candles! So what’s the big deal about pomegranates?

Pomegranates have been around since Greek mythology and are considered a super fruit because they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, polyphenols and much more. The high antioxidant content of the fruit may help decrease the risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation and the buildup of plaque and cholesterol. It may also reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.

The word pomegranate means "seeded apple" which is a fitting translation considering each fruit contains hundreds of edible seeds. The seeds, called arils, are the only edible portion of a pomegranate and are trapped inside the fruit in sacs by white, bitter membranes.

Selection and Storage

Pomegranates are generally available in stores from September to January. When choosing the perfect pomegranate, pick ones that are:

  • Heavy- this means the fruit is ripe and full of juicy goodness.
  • Dark or bright red with smooth, tight skin.
  • Free of bruises, cuts or cracks.

Whole pomegranates can be stored at room temperature, away from sunlight, for several days. If refrigerated in a plastic bag, they can last 2-3 months.

Pomegranate seeds can be stored up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze seeds by placing them in a single layer on a tray until frozen and then transferring to an airtight container. You can store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Seeding a Pomegranate

One pomegranate yields approximately ½- ¾ cup of seeds. The seeds are sweet and bursting with flavor and can easily be added to salads, salsas and marinades or used as a festive garnish to add a pop of color to any dish. Pomegranate seeds are a delicious addition to any dish but do you avoid pomegranates because you’re not sure what to do with them or because you worry that seeding them may be too difficult or messy?

Check out this video to learn a quick and easy way to seed a pomegranate with minimal mess!

Note: Pomegranates are similar to grapefruits in that they may interfere with certain medications. Check with your health care provider before consuming pomegranates if you are taking any medications.

Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe Adapted from: BlueKaleRoad, Food 52
Serves 4

Now that you know how to easily seed a pomegranate, give this recipe a try for a colorful, festive dish that turns plain boring Brussels sprouts into something your family will love and enjoy!




1 lb (approximately 4 cups) Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp salt, or to taste
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (approximately ¾-1 cup)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Cut Brussels sprouts in half and discard any discolored leaves.
  3. Toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil and spread in a single layer, cut side down, onto baking sheet.
  4. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes or until Brussels sprouts become tender and are deep golden brown on cut sides, with some visible crispy edges.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk honey or maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and salt until combined.
  6. Remove baking sheet from oven and drizzle vinegar mixture over Brussels sprouts. You can use a spatula to lift Brussels sprouts and gently toss to coat. Spread evenly again in a single layer, cut side down.
  7. Return Brussels sprouts to oven and roast for another 5-7 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, toss Brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds, and enjoy!


Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories: 130, Total Fat: 4.5 gm, Saturated Fat: 0.5 gm,Trans Fat: 0 gm, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbs: 23 gm, Fiber: 6 gm, Protein: 5 gm, Sodium: 180 mg

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  • About this blog

    The Employee and Family Services group at SAS includes the Health Care Center, Recreation and Fitness Center and Work/Life. Check this blog to find interesting recipes and nutrition facts, information on staying healthy and how to keep your work life and family life balanced.
  • Health Care Center Events & Services

    To view the Health Care Center's upcoming Corporate Health Services Seminars & Events schedule, visit us here.

    SAS Health Care Center has three registered dietitians to assist employees and covered dependents with their nutritional needs. For more information on our nutrition services, please call the Health Care Center at 919-531-8809.

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