Archive for the 'Feeding & Nutrition' Category

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.

Nutritional considerations for children with Crohn’s disease

child holding bowl of berries

For children with Crohn’s disease, good nutrition is important to allow them to grow and develop at a healthy rate. What your child eats or is able to eat can depend greatly on whether their Crohn’s is in remission (not active) and experiencing few symptoms or if it is active and causing increased inflammation of the digestive tract.

When your child’s disease is in remission, the goal is to maintain a well-balanced diet featuring a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods. These foods include: protein (meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, beans and legumes), carbohydrates (whole grain cereals and breads, vegetables, fruit), and fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, avocado, nut spreads). A well-balanced diet can help make sure that your child gets enough calories, protein and vitamins/minerals.

When the disease is active and your child is experiencing more symptoms, the goal is to make sure your child is consuming sufficient calories and nutrients. Your child’s health care provider may suggest a modified diet that may be helpful during this time such as a low fiber/low residue diet or a lactose-free diet. Changes to your child’s diet are recommended mainly to help with any discomfort or unpleasant symptoms your child may be having.

Low fiber/low residue diet

Fiber is the part of food that cannot be digested; it is also known as bulk and roughage. Fiber helps the body move food through the digestive tract. Eating foods high in fiber — such as fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts and popcorn — when your child’s disease is active may increase diarrhea, increase pain and discomfort with bowel movements, and increase bleeding. A low-fiber diet can help to “rest” the intestines.

If your child’s doctor recommends a low-fiber low/residue diet, this article might be a useful reference for appropriate foods on a low-residue diet. In addition, a multivitamin or vitamin supplements may be recommended in order to add nutrients normally found in fruits and vegetables.

Remember to always check with your child’s health care provider before beginning a new diet.

Lactose-free diet

Lactose is the carbohydrate portion of milk. Children may experience lactose intolerance, especially with the disease in the small intestine. Symptoms include nausea, bloating, increased burping, increased gas, stomach pain and diarrhea. These symptoms can decrease or go away completely when milk and other dairy products, such as cheese, ice cream and yogurt, are removed from the diet.

Because milk and dairy products are very important sources of calcium and vitamin D for a growing child, your health care provider may suggest switching to lactose-free milk or fortified soy milk/almond milk/rice milk, or recommend your child take a lactase supplement when eating milk products.

Consult your health care provider before taking dairy products out of your child’s diet. A dietitian can also make suggestions that will help to lessen symptoms and keep up the amount of calcium and vitamin D in your child’s diet.


Children with Crohn’s disease may benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation of calcium, iron, B12, magnesium and/or phosphorus due to a variety of reasons including location of disease within the GI tract, poor absorption, surgical resections or poor food intake due to decreased appetite. Do not start supplementation without consulting your child’s medical health provider.

There is not one set diet that is applicable to every child with Crohn’s disease. Keeping a daily food journal can help identify foods that may trigger symptoms and avoiding these foods, especially when your child’s disease is active, may help lessen symptoms. It can be helpful to consult with a dietitian who can help develop a specific dietary plan for your child. A dietitian can also review your food journal to see if there are any patterns in your child’s diet in relation to his/her symptoms.

Mary Ligotti-Hitch, R.D., is a registered dietitian with the Beaumont Health Center’s Weight Control Center.


Easy taco salad

taco salad

Cropped image. Theresa Carpenter, Flickr. CC license.


  1. Choose low-starch vegetables (unlimited):
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell pepper
  • Onion
  1. Choose one protein (or two halves)
  • ¾ cup beans (black, red, pinto, kidney)
  • 4 ounces ground turkey
  • 1 cup ground meat-free crumbles (e.g., Yves Veggie Ground Round, Smart Ground)
  • ⅓ cup light shredded cheese (½ protein)
  1. Choose one starch
  • ½ cup corn
  • ½ cup beans
  • 1 ounce baked tortilla chips (e.g., Guiltless Gourmet)
  1. Choose two fats (optional)
  • ⅛ avocado
  • 8 large olives
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  1. Make the dressing

Mix together:

  • 1 packet 40% less sodium taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • ¼ cup skim milk


A standard dinner meal: one protein serving, 100 calorie starch serving, unlimited low starch vegetables, and two fat servings to equal approximately 400 calories.


Mix meat with taco seasoning mix and toss salad with salsa.

Dressing nutrition analysis per 2 tablespoon serving:

  • Calories: 36
  • Fat: 2g
  • Cholesterol: 8 mg
  • Sodium: 181 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Protein: 5 g

– Mary Ligotti-Hitch, R.D. is a registered dietitian with the Weight Control Center at Beaumont Health Center. Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Nutrition-focused spring cleaning

basket of vegetables

Liz West, Wikimedia Commons. CC License.

Here are five easy ways to clean up your diet and clear out unhealthy food from your pantry.

  1. Fresh is back! Many of us enjoy comfort foods like hearty soups and warm casseroles during the dreary winter months. Now that the warmer weather is on the horizon, it’s time to switch up your plate and bring back fresh veggies. Asparagus, turnips, kale, mustard greens, lettuce, peas, and rhubarb are all looking to make a comeback this spring.
  2. Farmers’ markets. Celebrate spring by visiting your local farmers’ market. Many open in early May. Bask in fresh produce, hand-made food items and unique crafts. Meet your local farmers and learn new recipe ideas.
  3. Plant herbs. Home-grown herbs can add extra flavor to springtime dishes. Start by picking your favorite variety. Consider basil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley, safe or rosemary as these are easy to grow. Next, figure out the best spot for sunlight and plant growth. It can be either a backyard garden plot, a windowsill planter, or even separate pots that can be kept on a patio or near a sunny window.
  4. Clean out the pantry. Making the effort to clean and organize your pantry can help you save time and money in meal planning. Start by throwing out anything that is past its expiration date, or appears stale or suspicious. Wipe down any containers that are sticky or have residue on them. For items that can get easily lost (such as packets of taco mix, oatmeal, or meal replacement shakes), place these items in a plastic bin. Put everyday items (such as lunch ingredients, snacks, and bars) at the most accessible level. Group items by category, for example grains/pasta, oils, canned items, etc. By doing this, restocking your pantry becomes an easy task.
  5. Toss the junk food. Tossing out the junk food not only keeps temptation out of reach, but it also creates more room for healthy, wholesome foods. So throw out the cookies, candy, crackers, ice cream and pastries then never look back! Keep these products out of sight and out of mind. Replace with healthier options, such as fresh fruit, pre-portioned nut mixes, tuna packets, hummus, hard-boiled eggs, etc.

– Vicky Pehling is a dietetic intern going through the Beaumont Dietetic Internship program.


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