Friday, February 25, 2011

The Greeks are taking the hearts of many a woman... because of their yogurt that is (and maybe swarthy good looks and accent?)

Greek Yogurt is the latest food fad. Almost every client I have had, and every woman I have talked to, asks me about Greek Yogurt and if it is good for you. Most people tell me that since Greek Yogurt is such a thick and creamy form of yogurt, it is comparable to eating ice cream. Imagine, a yogurt that people can happily subsitute for ice cream?! Talk about a dietitians dream come true!

What is Greek Yogurt? Apparently I have been eating "Greek Yogurt" for years without realizing it. I have always been a fan of making yogurt cheese, and that is exactly what Greek Yogurt is. It is just a regular yogurt that has been strained of most of the whey in order to make a thicker product. It is also called Labneh for those of you who have been to the middle-east or enjoy the regions cuisine.

Is Greek Yogurt better than regular yogurt? Yes (if you are comparing protein content and not calcium). Since Greek yogurt is a more concentrated yogurt (with less whey, and also less sugars, salt and and water), it contains more protein by volume. If it is made with low-fat or fat-free milks, it will also be low-fat or fat-free, but will probably contain a few more calories than plain regular yogurt. However, many people eat yogurt to get part of their calcium requirement, and most varieties of Greek contain 30-40% less calcium than regular yogurt.

Greek Yogurt is expensive, any recommendations? Yes, Greek yogurt really hits the wallet hard with one serving costing over $1 (whereas you can buy regular yogurt for anywhere from $0.33-$0.60 at most supermarkets). This is probably why I choose to make it at home instead (see next paragraph). However, if you have a Trader Joe's near you, the chain does offer it's own brand of Greek Yogurt (even flavored varieties) for much cheaper than Fage, Chobani, Dannon, or other brands.

How do I make Greek yogurt at home? When someone asks me about Greek yogurt I always tell them how simple and easy it is to make at home. Simply put, you just buy regular cheap yogurt, and set up a funnel into a mug (so that the whey and water can drip into the mug).
1.   Preferably you would use cheese cloth, put the cheese cloth into the funnel.
2.   Scoop the yogurt onto the cheese cloth/funnel apparatus (I don't have cheese cloth lying around so I just use a coffee filter which works just as well).
3.   Put the yogurt apparatus into the refrigerator over night (you can cover it so it doesn't take on scents and flavors of things in your fridge). Make sure the bottom of the funnel isn't hitting the bottom of the mug you use, there needs to be space for the water to flow out of the funnel.
4. The next morning you will awaken to a thickened (Greek) yogurt!
5. Simply scoop the yogurt out of the cheesecloth/coffee filter and top with your favorite fruit and sweetener.

So much cheaper and not that labor intensive, right?

My Recommendations: I recommend that you do consume Greek yogurt if you like it. If you don't, that is fine, stick with regular yogurt! Always choose low-fat or fat-free varities (apparently 0% is considered comparable to the high fat versions by most people). As with other yogurts and cottage cheese, be cautious of pre-flavored and sweetened varities. I'm not aware of any "light" Greek yogurts yet (as in the "light" yogurts such as Dannon Light 'n fit that are flavored and sweetened, but low in calories). So, I recommend you buy plain 0% Greek yogurt, add either a little sugar, or Splenda, Truvia, agave, honey, etc (your favorite sweetener), and some fruit for a delicious breakfast, snack, dessert or meal add-on!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Food Trends for 2011

This past year there was a huge consumer shift toward whole grains and gluten free... so you may be wondering what 2011 holds for food trends. Below I have listed 15 of the top food trends that you are sure to see in the next year or so:

1. Consumers will demand fresh, affordable, and healthy food options because of recent consumer awareness of the childhood obesity epidemic and the healthcare crisis (most of the healthcare dollars are associated with obesity-related diseases and conditions).

2. Food apps on smart phones will enable consumers to dowload coupons to use at checkout

3. Soda's will be reinvented to lower-sugar, real fruit juice, and lower-carbonation alteratives

4. Processed foods are soooo 2 years ago. Consumers seek products without High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated oils, red dye #40, and other bad-for you or fake ingredients

5. Label changes- you've probably seen the commercials saying how now Pepsi will label the front of soda and juice cans with the total number of calories, this will be true for most large beverage manufactuers. Just another initiative started because of Michele Obama's "Let's Move Campaign"

6. Fruit and vegetables are in! Look for new products being made with fruits and veggies where you haven't seen them before

7. TV chefs make healthy foods the #1 priority in schools and at home

8. American shoppers go European.... Americans begin trying to shop more often at local vendors and buying local ingredients instead of heading to the huge grocery chains ("BUY FRESH, BUY LOCAL!")

9. We become more aware of the effects foods have on our physical health (eg: eliminate a certain food= less muscle stiffness, fewer headaches, etc.)

10. Manufacturers will work hard to decrease the sodium and sugar contents of foods without you noticing

11. Emphasis on sustainability- reduced packaging... people who used bottled water might be frowned upon at some point in the near future!

12. Bite-size mini desserts are going to be the hottest craze at restaurants

13. Micro-brews for beer are going to become more popular than ever. Look for more of your friends doing home-brew, and fancy restaurants having beer-tasting menus.

14. Consumers will demand sustainable seafood and will try to consume more fatty-fish to meet the Omega-3 recommendations

15. More people will come to see Kelly at CLM to have their current diet analyzed and talk food with her ;-)

These are just a few of the trends as reported by Innova Market Insights, Int'l Food Info Council Foundation, The Food Channel, Mintel, and the Nat'l Restaurant Association, and my own research (#15). Personally, I do see a positive shift toward consumer awareness of the importance of nutrition on health, and a merger between the environmentalists & nutritionists.

Source: ADA Times, Winter 2011, Volume 8, Issue 2

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Get movin' Kiddies!!!

This week marks the 1 year anniversary of the start of the "Let's Move Campaign" which has the goal of eliminating childhood obesity in just one generation. Hopefully everyone has heard about the "childhood obesity epidemic", but you may not have paid attention to the severity of the epidemic. Here are some stats to peak your interest and concern for the state of health of our children:
  • in just 3 decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled
  • 1 out of every 3 American children is overweight or obese (40% for blacks and Hispanics)
  • it is estimated that if we don't solve the obesity problem, 1/3 of children born in 2000 will suffer from type II diabetes at some point in their lifetime
Childhood obesity is such a problem because of all the health risks (and therefore, health costs (ie: your tax $$$)) associated. Childhood obesity greatly increases the risk of a child having low-self esteem (and developing depression), having asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, sleep apnea, arthritis, and many, many more problems. Plus, no one wants to be teased on the playground for their weight or intimidated to try out for sports because they are heavy. 

You may have seen First Lady Obama on morning news programs and "Regis & Kelly" discussing this campaign that she heads. The campaign site reads:
"Let’s Move is comprehensive, collaborative, and community-oriented and will include strategies to address the various factors that lead to childhood obesity.  It will foster collaboration among the leaders in government, medicine and science, business, education, athletics, community organizations and more.  And it will take into account how life is really lived in communities across the country – encouraging, supporting and pursuing solutions that are tailored to children and families facing a wide range of challenges and life circumstances."

The campaign focuses on 4 main topics related to childhood obesity prevention:
1. Make healthy choices - food manufacturers will have to change labeling to make nutrition info easier to read and understand; Media campaigns will focus on childhood obesity prevention; Let's Move website will offer shopping tips and grocery store maps for professionals and consumers
2. Improve healthy foods in schools- funds will be used to increase fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy in schools, increase meal reimbursement programs, train foodservice workers, and update kitchen equipment in schools
3. Improve accessibility & availability of healthy foods- the goal is to remove food deserts (think Chester, PA- a place where few, if any, grocers are located within the city limits) and increase farmer's markets
4. Increase physical activity- the Dept of Education will create a Safe and Healthy Schools fund to reauthorize the Primary and Secondary Education Act to increase physical activity in schools; Pro sports teams will advocate "60 Minutes of Play a Day"

These are just a few of the campaign objectives, and some are already active. To find out more about Let's Move and use some of the resources provided by our government, visit:

Establishing healthy eating habits at a young age is critical to ensuring a healthy and long life for your child. For most children, it is up to the parents to provide them with the correct foods and be a model for healthy eating. Make sure your child is eating the correct size portions for their age and eating foods that will help their bodies, not hurt. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with me (for you, for your child, or both), please email me at: I would be happy to help you and your child learn to eat and enjoy healthy foods! (website:

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Mediterranean Diet for Heart Month

                Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and so, February is designated as “American Heart Month” to help encourage Americans to improve their heart health and battle heart disease.  Along with regular cardiovascular exercise, following a healthy diet is one of the best lifestyle choices one can make to keep the heart healthy and prevent heart attacks. More specifically, the “Mediterranean Diet” has shown to be incredibly effective for prolonging life, preventing heart attacks, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s (British Medical Journal, September 2008).
          The “Mediterranean Diet” itself is a broad term used to describe the general diet of more than 1.5 people that were followed for about 18 years through combined studies. Basically, the healthiest people in these studies ate loads of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans, fish, wine in moderation, and ate no red meat and little (or no) cheese. The most benefit was found with those people who consumed the most vegetables and fish, while the most harm (i.e: premature death, heart attacks, cancer, and arthritis) was found in people who ate red meat regularly. 
          I encourage you to try to follow the Mediterranean diet during the month of February as a tribute to American Heart Month and a way to get you on track for a healthy diet. I recommend you base each meal on plant-based foods (vegetables, whole grains, beans, olive oil, herbs, spices), and consume fish and seafood at least 2x/week. Eat yogurt or low-fat dairy on a daily basis and consume poultry, eggs, and wine in moderation (small quantities daily, or moderate portions a few times each week). If you have more questions about this diet or would like to meet with me to tailor a Mediterranean meal plan to your needs contact me at:

Mediterranean Diet Resources: