New Year, New You!

by Kelsi Robinson, UTSA Dietetic Intern
reviewed by Celina Parás, MSc, RDN, LD, Nutrition Education Specialist, CHEF at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

As we begin the new year and you reflect on your New Year’s resolutions, it is important to keep in mind that smaller goals may be more realistic. It is common to set a weight loss goal or try a new fad diet, but these goals are usually too stressful and unlikely to be continued long-term. No one likes to fail, but goals that are not realistic can make someone feel like a failure and force them to just “give up.” This new year focus on small lifestyle changes you can easily fit into your current daily routine.

Try a New Vegetable Weekly
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 out of 10 Americans meet the federal daily vegetable recommendations.1 Vegetables provide many nutrients, including fiber. Fiber from vegetables, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps with digestion, heart health, and can make you feel fuller for longer without all the calories. There are a variety of vegetables many people have not tried or even heard of, so this year try adding one new vegetable a week. This will not only expand your palate, but also increase your vegetable intake.

Add Color on Your Plate
When choosing fruits and vegetables it is also important to consider their color. Color on our plates draws our eyes to the food and inspires us to want to try it. Have your heard the saying “we eat with our eyes?” It is true! Before we even begin eating we look at our plates and if it is not appealing we will not eat it, but if it looks good our brain tell us to start eating.2 As for your health, different colors provide their own sources of nutrients. Color variety can make sure you are getting a large range of nutrients your body needs.

Get Moving!
Start small! If walking around your neighborhood for 30 minutes three times a week is more realistic, then start there. For children, it is recommended to participate in 60 minutes of activity per day.3 Activities can include walking, bike riding, swimming, or anything that gets you moving and gets your heart pumping will improve your health and help with weight management.

So whether you want to lose weight or just begin a healthier lifestyle, start small and you will be more successful. It is easier to maintain goals if they are realistic. As you slowly start combining healthier eating patterns with exercise, long-term weight loss goals will become more realistic without the stressful dieting. So, this new year focus on small changes that are realistic and overtime you will see more improvement in your health long-term.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables. Published 2017. Accessed December 17, 2018.
  2. Spence C, Okajima K, Cheok AD, Petit O, Michel C. Eating with our eyes: From visual hunger to digital satiation. Brain Cogn. 2016;110:53-63. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2015.08.006
  3. Energy Out: Daily Physical Activity Recommendations. American Academy of Pediatrics. Published 2014. Accessed December 17, 2018.

The Mystery of Ancient Grains

by Tricia Lyles, Baptist Dietetic Intern
reviewed by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD, Director of Community Outreach, CHEF

By now most people know what whole-grains are as they have been highly promoted and praised for their ability to reduce high cholesterol and prevent heart disease–think oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Ancient grains on the other hand are still mysterious foods with seemingly funny names to the general population. So, what exactly are these little grains sitting next to rice on the shelves at the grocery store? Well, ancient grains are also whole-grains originating from around the world. While they are not new comers to the world of nutrition, their popularity has rapidly grown in recent years.

Whole-grains contain three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm, whereas refined grains only contain the endosperm. The bran and germ contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are essential to helping keep your body healthy. Ancient grains specifically are even more nutrient dense than modern whole-grains with higher amounts of protein and fiber. The higher protein and fiber content will keep you satiated and help stabilize blood glucose levels.  Additionally, the fiber will help lower high cholesterol levels and improve overall digestion.

Below are some examples of ancient grains, packed full of nutrition that you can start incorporating into your daily diet. A great way to do so is by making a delicious grain bowl. Pick a whole grain, mix it with vegetables, a lean protein, seasonings or homemade dressings, and any extra toppings like fruit or nuts, and you will have an easy, delicious dinner for the entire family to enjoy!

  • Quinoa contains all nine of the essential amino acids necessary to make a complete protein.
  • Kamut or Khorasan, has a nutty flavor and contains several minerals including selenium and magnesium.
  • Farro is packed full of rich, nutty flavor and contains a good amount of nutrients such as zinc and B vitamins.
  • Millet is an ingredient in birdseed, however we can certainly eat it too! It is high in copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.
  • Spelt may be the oldest grain in existence. It is known for its nutty flavor and chewy texture and is a great alternative to rice or pasta.
  • Amaranth is an easy to cook, crunchy grain rich in Vitamin C, protein, calcium, and iron.
  • Bulgur is also a quick cooking grain, high in manganese, fiber, and protein that can be added to any soups, salads, casseroles and even burgers.

Lastly, always be sure to read the ingredient label and make sure the first ingredient reads “whole wheat” or whole-grain of whichever product you are purchasing. For a tasty whole-grain bowl recipe, please check out the one via the link below!



Cooking With Canned or Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD,  Director of Community Outreach, CHEF

Cooking with canned or frozen fruits and vegetables is a quick and convenient option for busy weeknight meals. They can even be more nutritious! Shopping in the canned food aisle and freezer section, in addition to fresh produce, can provide a wider variety of meals for even the most discernible palates.

Canned fruits and vegetables have a long shelf-life and are typically free of preservatives. The canning process uses high temperatures to cook and seal the contents. Canned foods are also a quick option as they only need to be reheated. There are many canned foods that come in microwave-safe packaging and can be reheated in minutes. Be sure to look for sodium-free, low-fat, and no added sugar on the labels of your canned foods. Rinsing certain canned vegetables like canned beans can help to remove excess sodium.

Frozen fruits and vegetables can be more nutritious as they are flash frozen closer to the time of being picked. Many frozen vegetables can be microwaved for quick, easy cooking. Choosing plain vegetables or vegetables in low-fat sauces can help control the amount of fat and calories you consume. Frozen meals and entrees can be a great option if you are counting calories – just be sure to compare nutrition labels and serving sizes to find better-for-you options.

Whether you use canned or frozen fruits and vegetables to cook part or all of your meal, you can expedite the time it takes to prepare a delicious, nutritious dinner!