Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Try Almond Milk, but Read the Label!

Almond milk is very trendy right now, and rightly so. It can be a very low-calorie and tasty way to get in your “dairy equivalents”, while also providing up to 50% your daily value of Vitamin E, which is a very important antioxidant.

However, you need to know that contrary to what is often misstated on TV shows,  Almond Milk is very low in protein compared to cow or soy milks. An average cup of skim milk provides 80-90 calories and 8 grams of protein. An unsweetened soy milk usually provides about 90 calories and 7 grams of high quality protein. Almond milk, unsweetened, will only provide 30-40 calories per cup, and < 1 g of protein. Even the sweetened vanilla varieties of almond milk usually are comparable to skim in terms of calories, but do not offer the protein of soy or skim milk. Protein has 4 calories per gram, thus the reason almond milk is lower in calories than skim or soy milks.

You must also be cautious of reading the label. The reason I recommend almond milk is because it is a low-calorie way to get in a "dairy" food group serving as well as a way to get people to consume more Vitamin E without having to eat 500 calories worth of almonds. Certain shelf-stable almond milk brands provide no Vitamin E, and some are not fortified with calcium or Vitamin D. Most of the refrigerator varieties are fortified with calcium and have a decent amount of Vitamin E. However, So Delicious brand does not have the Vitamin E  which is one of the outstanding benefits of Almond Milk (it also only has 10% the daily value of calcium compared to>30% in other brands). Also, be aware that almond milk does not heat well (it curdles when heated too high) and it does not freeze well like regular milk and soy milk do.

My Recommendation: Pair unsweetened almond milks with high protein cereals like Kashi Go Lean, or use when making smoothies (I recommend the Almond Coconut Blend!). Always look at the nutrition label and make sure you are getting at least 30%the DV of Calcium, 50% DV Vitamin E, and 25% the daily value of Vitamin D. Any “dairy” type product spoils in 7-10 days of opening, regardless of the use-by-date, and almond milk certainly takes on a funky taste after about a week of being opened. The refrigerator varieties generally taste better, but if you aren’t going to go through an entire half gallon in a week, I recommend getting the smaller shelf-stable varieties (refrigerate after opening!).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Review: The PVC Diet

This past summer I was given a copy of the "PVC Diet" which is a book written by Dr. Lawrence Kosinski, a gastroenterologist based in Illinois. Initially I was a bit reluctant to read the book because I am not a huge fan of diets in general. I was thinking that this book would be a real "diet", one that makes people follow strict eating rules for a short period of time, only to have them regain the weight after the "diet" is over. I'm more of a believer in teaching people how to eat for life so that they never have to "diet" again, or feel the need to detox.

However, I was pleasantly surprised within reading just the first few pages of this book. I found that the PVC diet was a quick and easy read, and I agreed with about 99% of the material. The book is incredibly educational and teaches you more than just the basics about nutrition. It is very comprehensive in terms of why you need to eat certain foods and the effects they have in the body- but the author does a great job of explaining this in a way that most college-educated people can understand. It is by no means too scientific for the average Joe to understand, which I like.

The PVC Diet is pretty much a written summary of what I tell my clients on a daily basis: why they need to eat real fiber instead of taking a fiber supplement, why eating too much protein will make you gain weight (contrary to popular belief), why cutting out all carbs is not the way to lose weight, etc. Some of the good take-a-ways are that you should eat a palm size serving of protein PER DAY, not per meal, as most people think. The doctor makes good points about the types of foods you are buying, like how buying farm-raised salmon is not any better than eating grass-fed beef in terms of omega-3 content. Corn-fed salmon are not going to have the omega-3 levels that Wild Alaskan salmon will, and are not going to supply you with the health benefits that salmon is known for.

The book also does a great job discussing the "gluten-free" trend and what is true and what is not about gluten. It also talks about how to order in restaurants and why the timing of meals is important for weight control. Basically, he covers in a quick and Sparknotes-type manner the things you need to know if you want to find balance in life through diet. If you follow the doctors suggestions, you will be eating healthier, can lose weight, and will never have to worry about dieting again.

If you are the type of person that loves diets (not sure who actually loves diets...), and needs something to read and go by, I recommend you purchase the PVC Diet and give it a try. It is a quick and easy read and will give you solid and factual nutrition information. Of course, I do also recommend meeting with a dietitian so you can get your specific nutritional needs addressed and a tailored plan to meet your lifestyle and food preferences This book can supply you with a good nutritional knowledge base, which coupled with nutrition counseling, will make you a superstar when it comes to diet and healthy eating.You can learn more about the PVC diet and even purchase a copy through their website: I did not receive any compensation for writing this review on the PVC Diet; I genuinely believe it is a book that everyone should read to learn the real facts about nutrition and weight maintenance.
NOTE: If you have Independence Blue Cross (Personal Choice or Keystone Health Plan East), AmeriHealth, or Aetna, you probably will receive 6-10 completely FREE nutrition counseling sessions with me (no co-pay nor deductable for most plans- this counts as preventative care). You do not need to be a member of Club La Maison to meet with me and I do all the billing. Email me at: if you live in the Philadelphia area and are interested in setting up an appointment or inquiring further. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Guest Blog Post: 10 Natural Food Snacks That Are Easy on Blood Sugar

Below is a guest blog post from Amanda Austin. For questions or comments about this posting, please contact Amanda via the contact information in the "About the Author" section at the bottom of the post.

When many people think about snacks, they consider high-sugar treats and food with added fat (think cookies or potato chips or any other vending machine goodie out there.) However, for people with imbalanced blood sugar, these types of snacks are not only fattening, they can cause blood-sugar spikes that have dangerous consequences for their health. The best snacks are pre-portioned and low in carbs; planning snacks can help you make better choices when you feel hunger pangs coming on. Here are 10 foods to try for your next snack break.

Peanut butter treat – Peanut butter has protein and unsaturated fat, which can give you long-lasting energy. Combined with the crunch of celery sticks and baby carrots, this treat will keep you from getting hungry and satisfy a craving for crunch. Three celery sticks, five baby carrots and one tablespoon of peanut butter is about 130 calories and has less than 10 grams of carbs.

Fruit Salad – The best part about this snack is that you can customize it with the type of fruit you like or the freshest in-season fruit. Mix ¼ cup fresh blueberries, one small apple, and ½ medium banana, then portion into ½ cup servings. This mixture is about 10 grams of carbs and 100 calories per serving.

Cottage cheese – Cottage cheese is another protein-packed snack that can be paired with many different kinds of fruits for a fresh, cool afternoon treat. Try ¼ cup cottage cheese and ½ cup of freshly cut peaches for a snack that is less than 10 carbs and about 90 calories per serving.

Caprese salad – Caprese salad is a delicious savory snack for afternoon cravings. Slice five cherry tomatoes and mix with 1 tablespoon low-fat mozzarella cheese. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and dash with a bit of basil. This snack has about 10 grams of carbs and less than 100 calories.

Tuna salad – Tuna is a nutrient-dense food, filled with high-quality protein and vitamins. For a quick tuna salad snack, mix a ½ can of tuna packed in water with 1 tablespoon low-fat salad dressing and ½ tablespoon sweet pickle relish. Portion into ¼ cup snack size, then spread on four saltine crackers. This snack is about 15 grams of carbs and 150 calories.

Turkey wraps – For the hours between lunch and dinner when you want something substantial to tide you over, try these easy turkey lettuce wraps. Take one slice of deli turkey and wrap in a large leaf of romaine. Add mustard for an extra bite. Each wrap has about 2 grams of carbs and less than 70 calories.

Pistachios – This “super nut” has a high level of phytosterols, a natural plant compound that may help lower cholesterol, and have the lowest calories per nut of any other kind. Twenty-five pistachios have 100 calories and 5 grams of carbs.

Edamame – An exotic name for green soybeans, edamame are fiber-rich and have protein and Omega-3 fats. Simply steam a cup, open the pods and enjoy! One cup has about 150 calories and 12 grams of carbs.

Hummus – Hummus is made from high-fiber chickpeas, and is great for snacking. Pair ¼ cup with broccoli, cherry tomatoes or carrots for a snack that is about 120 calories and 13 grams of carbs.

Oranges and Almonds – This energy boosting combo has about 150 calories and 21 grams of carbs. Oranges can give you a little extra water (and vitamin c) and almonds provide a protein punch.
About the Author:
Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day and a blogger and freelance writer by night. She's also a mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip. Amanda loves coffee, fashion, Twitter, makeup, nail polish, and cats (not always in that order.) Her work has been published on and She has written for many websites including Now Foods. For more celebrity gossip, fashion, beauty and DIY, visit Amanda's blog, It's Blogworthy ( or follow her on Twitter and Google+.