Beaumont’s Preparing for Breastfeeding class

mom breastfeeding baby

Cropped image. Marc van der Chijs, Flickr. CC license.

Congratulations! Becoming a new parent can be very exciting. Many expectant families ponder the question, “How should I prepare for my baby?” As a nurse and childbirth educator, I say that one of the most important ways a family can prepare for a new baby is to educate themselves with evidence-based information.

Many of us turn to technology to answer these questions, but unfortunately it is very hard to distinguish evidence-based, accurate information. For your convenience, Beaumont’s Prenatal and Family Education Department offers classes and educational materials to get you prepared for your new baby with confidence. Research found that families who take education classes before the birth of their baby felt more confident with their base knowledge when taking their newborns home.

One important decision expectant families will make is about breastfeeding. This question can lead to a cascade of questions and the best way to get answers is to take a Preparing for Breastfeeding class. Led by a Beaumont nurse educator, this one-time, three-hour class will discuss topics like:

  • What are the benefits for mom and baby?
  • How does a mother’s body make breastmilk?
  • How do I get the best start to breastfeeding?
  • How do I position myself and my baby to breastfeed?
  • What is all this talk about getting a “good” or “correct” latch?
  • How can my partner be part of the breastfeeding experience?
  • How do I know I am doing this right?
  • How do we know our baby is getting what they need?
  • How do we know when to ask for help?
  • What can we expect with breastfeeding in the first few weeks after my baby’s birth?

The “Understanding Breastfeeding Book” you receive in class will give you access to app-based information to help you through your experience. This can be used to help navigate the early days home with your new baby.

Enroll in a breastfeeding class today. This class is also available as an independent study.

– Maribeth Baker, RN HBCE LCCE, is a program coordinator with the Beaumont Community Health and Prenatal and Family Education department.

Eat more and eat less: A lesson in food volume

nutrient dense meal

We often hear the phrase, “We eat with our eyes.” This can be a challenge or an asset depending on the food in question. Being mindful of nutrient density and food volume can make a big difference in energy (calories) and nutrients consumed.

Do you know the difference between energy and nutrients? Nutrient density is defined as “relatively rich in nutrients for the number of calories contained.” Energy density, on the other hand, is “the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume;” in this case, the system is food, and the unit is calories.

Nutrient density vs. energy density (caloric density)

Consider these meals side-by-side:

Low nutrient density,
High energy density
High nutrient density,
Low energy density
3 chicken strips Turkey sandwich on wheat bread
10 French fries 1 cup baby carrots
1 tablespoon hummus
1 medium apple
1 chocolate pudding cup

Both meals contain approximately 500 calories, but the food volume and nutrient density is vastly different. The meal on the left side is less nutrient dense, but highly calorically dense. This meal takes up less room on the plate, but has the same number of calories as the meal on the right. Additionally, the meal on the right incorporates fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

Now take a look at this image and notice what 400 calories can feel like to a stomach.

400 calories fills up stomach differently

image credit:

How can we use energy and nutrient density to our advantage?

Seeing more food on our plates automatically makes us want to eat more, which is why it’s important to fill our plates with foods high in nutrient density and low in energy density. Some examples of foods high in nutrient density and low in energy density are:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains (air-popped popcorn, brown rice, whole grain cereal)
  • Lean proteins and dairy products

Even though these foods are low in energy density and high in nutrient density, it is important to be mindful of how these foods are prepared. Using excessive sauce, butter, oil, and so forth can increase the energy density without increasing the volume of food. When prepared using light cooking methods such as steaming, roasting, grilling, and sautéing with minimal fat, these foods can be used to add filling nutrients to meals without significantly increasing total energy intake.

References and recommended readings

– Sarah Irving, RDN, is a clinical dietitian at the Beaumont Weight Control Center Royal Oak. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Go green with all kinds of lettuce

heads of various types of lettuce

Lettuce is one of the most common vegetables eaten in the United States today. Although many people are most familiar with iceberg and romaine, there are several types of lettuce. Lettuce is almost always green, but it can come in many different shades and colors.

Dark, leafy greens are nutrient-rich and provide antioxidants, including beta carotene. This  specific antioxidant is essential in forming vitamin A which lowers the risk of disease. Romaine lettuce has 17 times more vitamin A than iceberg! Lettuce also provides many nutrients to our bodies including folate, potassium, lutein and dietary fiber. Spinach is a good source of iron.

Adding a small amount of fat to these lettuces can help with the absorption of nutrients. It is important to choose salad dressings made with oil, like olive or canola, because they provide unsaturated fat, which is a healthier option than most cream-based dressings.

For those who prefer a cream-based dressing, choose a healthier option made with yogurt like Bolthouse Farms. These are typically found in the refrigerated produce section of the grocery store. They are lower in fat and calories, providing about 35–45 calories per serving (2 tablespoons).

Since spring is upon us, try to perk up your salad with more flavor and variety. Don’t be afraid to try different types of lettuce you find in the grocery store or at your local farmers market. Use the guide below to help pick the right flavor and texture you are looking for.

  • For a peppery flavor: arugula or watercress
  • For leaves that aren’t green: red-and-white radicchio
  • For flavor with a “bite”: chicory or escarole
  • For a mild flavor and delicate green color: mâche, Boston or Bibb lettuce
  • For a deep-green color: spinach
  • For a crisp texture: Romaine

If not using these in salads, try to incorporate more of these powerful greens in your cooking. For example, spinach, kale and collard greens all sauté well with a little oil, spices or garlic. Greens will usually shrink down in size by half, so keep this is mind when planning meals. Add greens to soups, stews, casseroles or even try spinach folded in an omelet. If looking for crunch, try baking kale chips with some oil and salt.

When preparing greens, wash and dry the leaves thoroughly before using and keep them refrigerated. Enjoy within a few days, as the leaves are likely to wilt or spoil if stored beyond that time frame. Make sure to try different varieties and have fun going green!

 – Jessica Helmick, R.D., is a clinical dietitian at the Beaumont Weight Control Center Canton. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Information adapted from:

Enjoy national noodle month with veggie pasta and healthy Alfredo sauce

zucchini noodles in skillet

Marco Verch, Flickr. CC license.

Noodles and pasta are great foundations for healthy, nutritious and satisfying meals. However pasta is generally high in carbohydrates and the average serving size of whole grain pasta is 2 ounces dry (approximately 1 cup cooked), which contains 200 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates. It is very easy to over-indulge and eat more than what is recommended.

Fear not, today there are other pasta alternatives popping up. Some of my favorite low-carb noodles include zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash. Let’s compare them to whole grain pasta.

  • Whole-grain pasta: 1 cup cooked (2 ounces dry) has 200 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Spaghetti squash: 1 cup cooked contains 46 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Zucchini: 1 cup cooked has 28 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates.

Both spaghetti squash and zucchini are perfect spaghetti noodle substitutes because they are low-starch vegetables so you can have an unlimited amount. Top with your favorite sauce and you are good to go!

Take the noodle challenge

If you really want to step outside of your noodle box, I challenge you to try some more unique pasta alternatives, such as carrot noodles or beet noodles. You can buy these products pre-packaged in the produce department at your local grocery store or spiralize them yourself with a spiral slicer. (Carrots = 1 cup, 70 Calories, 16 grams carbohydrates; Beets = 1 cup, 80 calories, 16 grams carbohydrates)

Healthy Alfredo Sauce


  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth (low sodium)
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • ½ cup non-fat plain greek yogurt (room temperature)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup grated parmesan


  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Sprinkle with cornstarch and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
  3. While whisking, slowly add in broth and milk. Continue whisking to combine until smooth.
  4. Raise heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Once simmering, simmer for about 2 minutes, until it starts to thicken, whisking constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and whisk in greek yogurt little by little.
  6. Once combined, place back on medium heat and stir in Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  7. Bring to a simmer and simmer for an additional 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  8. Serve over pasta immediately.


6 servings (Serving size equals 1/6 of the entire sauce recipe.)

– Alyson Nielsen is a dietetic intern with Beaumont Health. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Adapted from

Reducing your family’s food waste

food in grocery cart

  • Be mindful. Plan meals based on the foods you have on hand and before going grocery shopping. Only buy what you need and know you will use/eat.
  • Get creative with leftovers. Transform meals into soups, salads or sandwiches by cutting up leftover meats and veggies.
  • Freeze fresh fruits like bananas and berries before they go bad or use them for baking into breads and muffins.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. Choose smaller portions to stay within your calorie needs, as MyPlate recommends.
  • If you don’t typically eat leftovers, split meals when you go out to dinner to limit food waste and reduce overeating.
  • Implement the “first in, first out” practice. When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front and put newer products to the back. You will be more likely to use the older items before they expire.
  • Monitor what you throw away. This will make you more aware of what common food wastes are for you. You may be less likely to buy those items in the future, or you can develop a plan of what to do in the future.
  • Designate one dinner each week as “use-it-up” or “leftovers” meal.
  • Store food in air-tight containers. This will help your food last longer and taste fresher.

­ ­– Alyson Nielsen is a dietetic intern with Beaumont Health. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Meet the mighty mushroom

variety of mushrooms on cutting board

Mushrooms are somewhat of an anomaly in the culinary world. They are often thought of and used as a vegetable, when in reality, mushrooms don’t even belong to the plant family. Rather, mushrooms are vitamin- and nutrient-rich members of the fungi kingdom. For many people, thinking of mushrooms may call to mind pizza, salad or soup. However, there is a vast medley of ways in which the flavorful fungus can be used to bring more excitement and nutrition to your dining table.


Mushrooms are chock full of B vitamins and minerals, and are also the only naturally occurring vegan source of vitamin D. In fact, growers can increase vitamin D levels even further by subjecting their mushroom crops to ultraviolet (UV) light, which causes mushrooms to create more vitamin D, much like the human body does when exposed to sunlight. Vitamins B6, B9 (foliate), and B12 are linked to brain health and can be found in mushrooms. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient of concern for vegans since it is primarily found in animal products; consuming mushrooms can help vegans reach their needs. Mushrooms can also help this population consume more of the minerals copper, selenium, phosphorus, and iron, which may be sparse in the vegan diet.

One cup of mushrooms contains about two grams of protein, roughly 15 calories and no fat. Fiber content ranges depending on the variety, but all mushrooms contain some amount of soluble beta-glucan fiber and insoluble chitin fiber. Beta-glucans may decrease blood cholesterol and insulin resistance, which increases immunity and lowers the incidence of obesity. Additionally, mushrooms are a source of choline, a nutrient that aids memory, learning, muscle coordination, fat absorption, and sleep.

Health benefits

Mushrooms can help prevent or minimize the symptoms of a vast array of common health complications. They are rich in antioxidants, meaning that they may prevent the growth of cancer-causing free radicals in the body. The fiber in mushrooms is beneficial for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as it decreases blood sugar and improves insulin and lipid levels. Additionally, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber work together to lower blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber is also instrumental in weight control and satiety. Finally, selenium and beta-glucans both effectively increase immune function.

Chicken Mushroom Bake Recipe


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (3 ounces each)
  • 1 packet HMR cream of chicken soup packet
  • 1 cup fresh, sliced mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Lemon pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix contents of soup packet with 6 ounces of boiling water. Add mushrooms and garlic.
  3. Place chicken in small casserole baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon pepper. Pour cream of mushroom soup mixture over chicken.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes or until done.

Serving suggestion

Serve with riced cauliflower.


Makes 2 servings

Source: Mushrooms: Nutritional value and health benefits

Meagan Lutey is a dietetic intern with Beaumont Health. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Meet the avocado

halved avocado in bowl

You may be inclined to call an avocado a vegetable but did you know it is technically a fruit? (It’s a single-seeded berry to be exact.) Avocados are nutrient powerhouses, providing 20 different vitamins in minerals per serving, including potassium, B vitamins, folate, vitamin C and E, as well as natural plant chemicals that may help prevent cancer.

About avocados

  • Avocados are nutritious, but they are very calorie dense so you need to consume them in moderation.
  • The recommended serving size is smaller than you may think as 1/5 of a medium avocado (or 1 ounce) is 50 calories and 4 grams of fat.
  • They are naturally low in sugar and contain fiber which helps you feel full longer.
  • They are high in monounsaturated fat which is the “good” fat that helps lower bad cholesterol.
    • The American Heart Association recommends a diet high in fruits and vegetables and up to 30 percent of calories from mainly unsaturated fat.

Incorporating avocado into your day

  • Choose avocados instead of fats that are high in saturated fats like butter or cheese.
  • Use it as a spread in place of cream cheese or mayo.
  • Make guacamole.
  • Add it to a salad.
  • Make an avocado salad (see recipe below).
  • Add it to a smoothie for added creaminess.
  • Top an omelet.
  • Add it to your favorite soup.
  • Add a delicious creamy topping to your fish or chicken.
  • Simply enjoy it right out of the peel.

Avocado salad

avocado and black bean salad

image credit: Jennifer Segal,


  • 2 cups corn, preferably fresh or frozen (about 2 cobs)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and cubed


  • Combine all the ingredients.
  • Add the avocado last to prevent it from breaking apart.


Makes 8 servings.  Serving size equals ¾ cup.  Each serving counts as 1 starch and 1 fat.

Nutrition analysis per serving

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
  • Sodium: 260 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 20 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Protein: 4 grams

– Natalie Raymond, R.D. is a clinical dietitian with the Beaumont Weight Control Center in St. Clair Shores. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.