Hi, everyone! I’m back from my birthday weekend (Nov. 6) at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Boston and I had a blast! I met so many interesting dietitians and other health professionals. I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned at the conference. But first, birthday celebrations! Peter’s aunt Laurel and her family very kindly invited me to their house for a birthday luncheon prior to my arrival at the conference. Feast your eyes on this!
My photography skills do not do this creamy carrot ‘n’ squash soup justice. The fresh dill and cheese chunks were savory additions.
Fresh grilled chicken sandwich:
The best part!
How beautiful is this cake? The recipe is “Fantasy Fudge Cake with Fantasy Fudge Frosting”. I think the title says it all.
Midey, don't eat my cake!
I’m pretty sure I spit all over the cake as I was struggling to blow out the candles – thanks to Laurie and Co. for not making fun of me … and for a wonderful birthday meal! :D
So, why is my back sore from FNCE? Well, it’s not FNCE’s fault – my back hurts because of a little something called FREE STUFF. Every booth in FNCE’s exhibition hall was giving out something – all of which I proceeded to load into not one, but TWO, bags – one swinging off each shoulder. I looked like some sort of pack mule. In a gray vest.
Free stuff, y’all!
How cool is this nut display?? You guys know I’m all about my portion sizes:
My new friend.
Check out this new Chobani product for kids:
This kid-friendly yogurt is packed with protein and comes in Very Berry, Strawnana, Honeynana, and Chocolate. You can bet I went back the next day to try the Honeynana!
Larabar has also come out with some new flavors this past July, including chocolate chip cookie dough (inhaled during an educational session):
The chocolate chips are a genius addition, although I would probably keep these new chip-studded flavors for an occasional treat.
I had heard good things about the robot in the picture below, including how it would address you by name (after your badge is scanned) and how it flirts with the ladies. I made a beeline to this booth on the second day, hoping to be
flattered by an inanimate object amazed by the robot’s engineering, but sadly, it was not operational during my visit.
I also had the fortune to hang out with these two wonderful ladies:
Ellen Shanley and Colleen Thompson are two University of Connecticut professors who have written an informative book called “Fueling the Teen Machine“. The second edition of this teen-centered nutrition book was just published.
Stay tuned for a full review ASAP!
Just so you know, I didn’t just go to FNCE to collect free stuff: I also attended a number of (mostly) interesting educational sessions. Here are a few tidbits I picked up about the latest nutrition research (as reported by FNCE’s presenters, unverified by me):
Vitamin D (Dr. Michael Holick, presenter)
* Low blood levels have been associated with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, schizophrenia, muscle weakness, peritonitis, upper respiratory tract infections, low birth weight, and poor birth outcomes. Whew!
* 81% of newborns are vitamin D deficient (within Dr. Holick’s hospital)
* Night sweating is most common symptom of vitamin D deficiency (!)
* Mushrooms make vitamin D, and are a potentially rich food source of vitamin D. In fact, I visited one exhibitor at the FNCE expo giving information on mushrooms as a vitamin D source. Interesting!
* Dr. Holick suggests that osteomalacia (softening of the bones related to lack of vitamin D) can be masked as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
* Getting vitamin D from sun exposure when young can help decrease lifetime cancer risk (obviously, Dr. Holick’s view on this topic is controversial).
* Oily fish (like salmon) contain vitamin D, but farmed salmon contains NO vitamin D.
* Obesity is associated with vitamin D deficiency. Because body fat stores vitamin D, people who are obese need 2-10x as much vitamin D.
* Dr. Holick’s recommends large dose vitamin D supplements (4000 – 6000 IU/day) to maintain vitamin D levels in the body. While his research points to the need for such supplements, especially for people who live at higher latitudes, I would recommend getting your vitamin D levels checked first (ask for a total 25(OH)D assay) before supplementing with vitamin D. Just be prudent.
Nutritional Genomics (Jose Ordovas, PhD & Ruth DeBusk, PhD, RD, presenters)
* Different areas of the world have varying levels of selenium in the soil, and thus different levels of selenium in crops (see my selenium post).
* Could out-of-sync biological clocks (like the internal clock that controls your sleep cycle) contribute to chronic disease?
* Starvation during fetal development affects newborns’ metabolisms – their bodies are programmed to “hold on” to every calorie they get, increasing future risk of overweight and obesity.
* Someday, RDs may be able to look at a person’s unique “genetic signature” to help design an individual diet and exercise plan to keep the person healthy and meet their unique needs. Cool, huh?
Healthy Aging (Stephen B. Kritchevsky, PhD & Jennifer G. Robinson, MD, MPH, presenters)
* “Lifespan” vs. “Healthspan”: our goal should be to extend the number of years of healthy life, not just the number of years of life, period.
* As people age, they tend to lose muscle and bone – but they also tend to gain weight! Where does that weight come from? (Hint: FAT). Resistance training as you age will help reduce the loss of muscle and the gain of fat.
* Loss of muscle in aging is related to the amount of protein in the diet (a.k.a. give your seniors plenty of protein!).
* BMI’s related to lowest mortality in adults ages 60-68 is 26.6 in men and 27.3 in women. These BMI’s are considered “overweight” according to the current BMI scale.
* Higher omega-3 fat levels are correlated with longer telomere lengths (telomeres are a measure of how fast you are aging – you want longer telomeres). Eat your fatty fish!
Breast Cancer: Diet, Physical Activity, and Genetics (Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, PhD, RD & Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, presenters)
* Women who gain weight later in life (regardless of whether they were lean or overweight in early life) are at a higher risk of breast cancer, possibly because of increased fat mass over lean mass (muscle and bone).
* The “Western diet” (higher in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar) is associated with a 2x higher risk of ALL-cause mortality.
* Plenty of exercise AFTER breast cancer diagnosis is linked to a better outcome, whereas women who gain weight after diagnosis increase risk of cancer mortality.
Overall, my first time at FNCE was a success! … Not least because I got to meet three wonderful bloggers! Do you know them?
Melinda (on right) blogs at Nutrition, Food, Travel, and More – you may remember her wonderful guest post on THIH when I was in China this past summer. I was so thrilled to meet Melinda, not only because I’m a great admirer of her blog, but also because she lives in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and I probably would never have met her if it wasn’t for FNCE! Lovely to meet you, Melinda!
In the middle is the gorgeous Kristen who blogs at EatingRD. Check out her blog for beautiful pictures and fun recipes :) It was so nice to meet you, Kristen!
Our final blogger buddy is one of my favorites: Kristen at Swanky Dietitian.
I loved chatting with you, Kristen! I feel like I’ve known you for a long time! FNCE has only whetted my appetite for blogger meetups – anyone coming to Connecticut any time soon? ;)
Q: Have you ever been to a blogger meetup?
What’s your favorite birthday dessert? See pictures 4-6 of this post for mine :D
Edited to add: The Happiness in Health is one of the featured “Best of the Web” blogs at this link – check it out!
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Food, that is!
Thanks to all of you for your insightful healthy living tips! I covered some of the healthy living basics in my last post, but you certainly picked up the slack. I’ve compiled all of your tips in the “Reader Tips” tab under “Simple Tips for Healthy Living“. Check it out to see your name … well, not in lights. Italics :)
A common theme among your healthy living tips is the idea of portion control. I couldn’t agree more that portion control is an essential part of healthy living. While I emphasize that these healthy living tips (including portion control) are not designed for weight loss, they can help prevent unwanted weight gain. As many of us know, portion sizes have been growing steadily in the last 20-30 years, sometimes quadrupling or quintupling in size. As you can imagine, these larger portions can lead to significant weight gain. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that current portions are much larger than they need because large portions are now everywhere. That 8 oz. muffin at Local Coffee Shop? That’s about 3 – 4 portions. I interact with a lot of people in the community who have no idea that the pasta bowl they ate at lunch contains six servings of pasta.
I mention this portion distortion not to cause a fixation on portions, but to stress that it is important to be educated about what you eat. I think we all agree that free will in nutrition is essential, yes? (If you don’t agree with me, let me know in the comments!) By knowing as much as possible about what we are putting into our bodies, we are actively choosing how we nourish ourselves, rather than letting someone else choose for us.
In addition to the fun portion distortion quiz I recommended last time (if you haven’t tried it, check it out!), here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to portion sizes mostly using your hands (perfect for restaurants):
* The area and thickness of your palm is a portion of meat or poultry (about 3-4 ounces). You can also use a deck of cards if you’re planning on playing canasta later.
* 3-4 ounces of fish may be little larger – about the size of a checkbook.
* Make a fist. That’s about 1 cup.
* Your cupped hand can hold about 1-2 ounces of cereal or a snack food.
* Your cupped hand will also hold about 1/2 cup of foods like pasta, rice, and ice cream. How handy!
* Your thumb is about 1 ounce of cheese (I use this one all the time).
* Your thumb is also about 1 Tablespoon. I often use thumbs for measuring peanut butter and salad dressing.
* Your thumb tip is about 1 teaspoon – great for butter or tub margarine.
Of course, hand sizes vary from person-to-person, so just be aware that if you’re Robert Wadlow, this guide may not apply to you. Be sure to look at nutrition labels for how many cups or ounces is in a single portion, and check out MyPyramid for a guide on approximately how many portions of each good group to eat per day (I say “approximately”, because MyPyramid is an estimation).
In my last post, I also mentioned a concept called “always” foods and “sometimes” foods. I try to balance my “always” and “sometimes” foods by eating the higher-fat, refined flour foods 10-20% of the time (I believe in steering away from a strict percentage to avoid over-restriction), and the “always” foods the rest of the time. So, what kinds of “always” foods do I enjoy? Well …
So dark outside ...
Lunch! Taken at 5:45 am, this picture represents a typical Jessie packed lunch – a balanced combo, if I say so myself *polishes fingernails* In the sandwich container is a mix of red bell pepper, green beans, and shiitake mushrooms, drizzled in Annie’s dressing (healthy fats and as many veggies as I can fit in my belly). On the side: pomegranate siggi’s yogurt (2 for $3!), to be enjoyed with a crumbled peanut butter oat bar (nonfat dairy and whole grains). To round out the meal: une pomme (fruit).
The siggi’s and oat bar, photographed two seconds prior to consumption:
Thank you, Bri and Taryn, for not giving me funny looks as I hunched over to get the best photo angle in a room full of people :D
Now! Here’s a perfect example of a “sometimes” food:
What’s that, Jessie?? Why, it’s the
“I Meant to Fry Them But I Can’t Handle Hot Oil” Apple Cider Doughnuts
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, November 2007
1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup buttermilk or skim milk
2/3 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
Veggie oil (if you want to fry them)
If you’re baking your doughnuts, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Boil apple cider in a saucepan for about 7-8 minutes, or until the cider has reduced to about 1/3 cup. Let cool.
I guessed that the dark ring of boiled-on apple cider would be hard to remove ... and it was.
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix cooled cider, milk, butter, eggs, and 1 cup sugar. Stir cider mixture into flour mixture (the dough will be very sticky).
Roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thick, adding more flour if needed. Use a biscuit cutter or a rarely-used wineglass to cut rounds.
You can re-roll the scraps of dough, but just be aware that they will be tough.
I baked my doughnuts in the oven for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Beautiful! Sprinked with a combination of 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon, these doughnuts were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
I’ve fried these doughnuts before and they’ve turned out great. Here are the frying directions for those interested: Heat 3 quarts of vegetable oil to 370 degrees F in a heavy pot over medium heat. Slide 10 doughnuts into the hot oil. When each doughnut floats to surface, turn over nd fry, turning once more, until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Allow oil to return to 370 degrees F between batches (essential!). Allow the fried doughnuts have cooled slightly and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
… Okay, I have to admit something to you guys … I DID try to pan-fry these doughnuts before baking them, because I don’t like to handle large quantities of hot oil – and, because I couldn’t find more than about 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil in our kitchen. How did they turn out?
Never, NEVER try to pan-fry doughnuts. It just doesn’t work.
Finally, I am excited to be attending the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Boston this weekend! Held by the American Dietetics Association, this event brings together RDs and DTRs and other nutrition professionals, as well as fun guests, such as Anthony Bourdain (ever hear of him?) Needless to say, I am thrilled to meet a lot of new people! If you’re going to be in the area, let me know!
This upcoming weekend should be a lot of fun, especially as a special event is happening on Saturday, November 6 HINT HINT. Obviously, I will not be posting until I return from Boston in the middle of next week, but I’ll be sure to give you a recap of the latest and greatest in the field of nutrition!
Until then … zai jian!
Q: What are your favorite “always” foods and “sometimes” foods?
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