As we’ve discussed in previous articles, it’s important to keep food demos simple and engaging. The recipes used don’t have to be fancy but may be used to introduce viewers to new cooking techniques or experiment with unusual flavors.

Selecting recipes to teach international cuisines can be easier than imagined. Explore different spices, ingredients, and whole grains to create recipes from anywhere in the world. Here’s a simple way to taste the Mediterranean region using common household ingredients.

Mediterranean Bulgur Salad
Bulgur is a whole grain commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Not only is this grain packed with 30% of the recommended amount of daily dietary fiber but it also provides nutrients such as iron, magnesium, and manganese. Combining bulgur with vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and spinach that contain Vitamin C, can increase the absorption of iron.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming six servings of grain per day with at least half of the servings being whole grain. Choosing whole grains may provide health benefits including improved cardiovascular health, weight management, blood sugar control, and bowel regularity. Whole grains come in many different forms such as whole wheat bread or pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oats, popcorn, maize, and many more. Selecting different whole grains can serve as the base to create your international meal.

This bulgur salad can be divided into four containers and made ahead for a busy week! This recipe can be eaten cold or hot as an easy and nutritious lunch option.

Equipment
Medium pot with lid Chef’s knife
Measuring cups and spoons Wooden spoons
Can opener Cutting board

Ingredients
1 cup bulgur
2 cups water
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 cup raw spinach leaves
2 cups chopped vegetables: bell peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, or mushrooms
½ cup feta cheese
¼ cup hummus
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Directions
1. In a medium stockpot, combine bulgur, water, cumin, and salt. Bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid for 10-12 minutes.
3. Stir in the garbanzo beans and heat on low for about 3-5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and stir in spinach until wilted. Add remaining vegetables and stir in feta, hummus, and lemon juice.
5. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Makes 6 servings
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

PDF Handout for Recipe

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Ultra-processed foods are taking over grocery shelves with their added flavor, affordable prices, and long shelf-life.

Ultra-processed foods including pre-packaged meals, breakfast cereals and bars, and packaged rice and pasta mixes are excessively processed through the addition of sugar, sodium, fat, preservatives, and other additives.

An easy way to replace ultra-processed foods is to recreate your favorite foods using whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and beans. Last week we covered frozen veggies and described how to make your own healthy frozen dinners. This week we’ll use frozen fruit. You will be surprised at all of the wonderful ways you can use it to increase your fruit intake and lower the intake of super processed foods like sugary drinks and cookies!

Frozen fruit is considered unprocessed and contains essential nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Frozen fruit is picked at its ripest point and frozen to ensure the conservation of nutrients without added sugar or additives.

Frozen fruit can be an affordable option for fresh fruits. It maintains nutritional value and won’t perish as quickly as fresh fruit. Whether you purchase frozen fruit at the store or freeze the fruit you have at home before it becomes rotten, it can save you money.

The next time you have the urge to grab a smoothie drink from the store, consider making your own fruit smoothie at home to avoid the added sugar. It can be as simple as blending your favorite frozen fruit, adding a green like spinach or kale, and a little liquid such as plant-based milk or 100% juice.

Another great option is creating infused water with frozen fruit to replace the ultra-processed beverage options such as soda and sugary drinks. Try adding frozen strawberries and pineapple to your glass of water. The frozen fruit will not only chill your water but the natural sweetness from the fruit flavors will transform your water into an energizing beverage.

While you may not consider flavored oatmeal packets as ultra-processed food, check the food label. You’ll be amazed at the amount of added sugar per serving size. Every 4 grams of added sugar equals one teaspoon. That’s 3 teaspoons per packet! Frozen fruit can provide natural sweetness as well as fiber, vitamin C, and potassium in each serving. Try cooking old-fashioned oats and adding in your favorite frozen fruit such as berries or peaches.

For a tasty treat, dip individually frozen raspberries into vanilla Greek yogurt and freeze again. When you’re craving something sweet, take a small handful of these raspberries out of the freezer to satisfy your craving.

As the temperature heats up with the spring and summer months coming, use a popsicle mold to create fruit freezer pops over store brought ice cream treats. Try frozen blackberries and mango with Greek yogurt. Blend together and place in a mold and freeze overnight for a refreshing treat.

Frozen fruits are a great way to reduce the intake of ultra-processed foods and meet nutritional recommendations of consuming at least 2 fruit servings per day!

Below are other ways to use frozen fruit:
• Top cottage cheese with frozen peaches or berries.
Simmer frozen fruit with a little honey or maple syrup to make a pancake or waffle topping.
• Use frozen fruit in a simple fruit crisp.
• Blend frozen fruit into your plain yogurt and top with chopped nuts.
• Make a fruit compote for chicken, pork, or fish.

Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

Download a PDF handout: 5 Great Ways to Use Frozen Fruits

 

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While frozen meals have come a long way since the days of TV dinners, they still remain highly processed. Most frozen meals contain a minimum of 500 mg of dietary sodium, added sugar and a handful of preservatives to keep them shelf-stable.

The next time you’re considering buying a frozen meal, why not create your own meals using what’s been left in your freezer? You’ll be surprised at how many easy dishes you could make using ingredients that you’ve already got on hand.

Let’s start with frozen veggies. Frozen vegetables are an inexpensive alternative to fresh and are just as nutritious. Unless they’re swimming in cheese or cream sauce, most varieties contain minimal sodium and zero fat. They’re picked at their peak of ripeness and frozen to seal in vitamins and minerals.

Frozen peppers and onions add great flavor and color to omelets, quiches, stir fries, fajitas or spaghetti sauce. Chopped broccoli or California blend vegetables also go well in stir fries or added to sheet pan dinners with chicken or fish. If you’ve got fresh or frozen ginger on hand or ginger paste, this can be added to a stir fry easily.

Another great option is a one pot meal in a slow-cooker or instant pot. Frozen veggies may be sauteed with aromatics like garlic and onions and added to chili, soup, rice, lentil or quinoa dishes. Adding dried herbs or spices gives these dishes a kick of flavor. I keep cumin, chili powder and paprika on hand for chili and soup as well as basil, oregano and rosemary for pasta or grain dishes.

Chopped, frozen spinach is another great vegetable to use in a variety of dishes. It can be used on in a frittata, quiche, omelets, or veggie pizza. It can also be added to soup, pasta or rice dishes. Sautee it in olive oil with garlic and pair it with canned white beans for a quick, inexpensive, Mediterranean side dish.

Use frozen peas, carrots or mixed vegetables in soup or Shepard’s pie. They can also be added to pasta dishes for a pop of color, texture and flavor.

Here is a little guide about frozen dinners. 

Check out our recipe database for meal solutions. The free category is for everyone and members have access to the rest.

Tune in next week to see what frozen fruit can do for you!

Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

 

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Last week we discussed how to get comfortable with presenting cooking demos. It’s important to be organized and engaging, but also to create recipes that are realistic and delicious.

The good news is that food demos don’t need to be fancy. Their main purpose is to teach people simpler ways to feed themselves and their families. If you’re out of ‘thyme’ to get to the store or want to use up what’s in your fridge, here’s a quick idea to go from fridge to frying pan.

Veggie frittata muffins
A frittata is a crustless quiche that’s delicious and versatile. It’s an eggcellent vehicle for a variety of veggies and provides protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Since they’re fairly perishable, it’s good to use eggs within a few weeks of purchasing. A veggie frittata can include 1 or more vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, onions, spinach or zucchini. The sky's the limit!

Most Americans don’t meet the recommended intake of 2 or more cups of vegetables per day. Veggies add color, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to your diet. They’re easy to add to any dish and pair well with eggs.

These mini frittatas are made in muffin tins to keep serving size simple. No cutting required! These can be eaten at any meal or snack. Leftovers can be frozen to be enjoyed at a later time.

Equipment
Non-stick skillet
Measuring cups and spoons
Chef’s knife
Wooden spoons
Cutting board
Whisk
Muffin tins

Ingredients
1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
2 cups worth of chopped veggies: peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.
Pinch of salt and pepper
6 eggs
¼ cup milk
½ cup shredded cheese
Non-stick spray

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
2. In a non-stick skillet, heat the oil to medium heat and cook the chopped veggies for about 5 minutes. Season the veggies with salt and pepper.
3. Whisk the eggs and milk together then mix in the cooked veggies and shredded cheese.
4. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
5. Pour the egg mixture into each muffin cup, filling them almost to the top.
6. Bake the muffins for 8 minutes or until eggs are set. Serve hot.
7. Cool muffins before storing in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 3
months.

Makes 12 mini frittatas.

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If there’s one positive thing that’s come out of this pandemic it’s that more people are spending ‘thyme’ in their kitchens, and not just to grab snacks. According to a study by Bloomberg News and Morning Consult, in a survey of over 2000 adults, just 7% said they plan on cooking less once the economy is back on track.1 Cooking is cool again!

While some people are feeling more confident in the kitchen, others still may be struggling to get things started. Making more meals can be time-consuming and challenging for many. Avoiding food waste and making nutritious meals in minutes will still be a priority for most. Providing food demos is a perfect opportunity to teach people the basics of healthy cooking.

Before deciding to conquer sourdough, consider recipes with just a few ingredients that don’t cost too much or take hours to prepare. Ideally, encourage your clients to use what’s already in their pantries or freezers to prevent unwanted trips to the grocery as well as food waste.

Providing a food demo requires prep just like anything other presentation. Below are some tips to get started:

Know your audience. Are you cooking for new moms, teens or bachelors? Each may have unique needs and interests, but most will appreciate your expertise. Find out who’s participating.

Get comfortable in front of a camera. Until most populations are vaccinated, cooking demos will be taking place in your home in front of a camera. Be sure to have enough light and a method of streaming the demo such as Facebook or Instagram Live, a Zoom link or Web-Ex invite.

Clean your kitchen. Your kitchen doesn’t have to look like Martha Stewart’s, but a clear space without a lot of clutter will reduce your stress and give you a more professional look. Remove unnecessary items from the counter and background such as refrigerator magnets.

Choose something you’ve made before. A simple salad and vinaigrette are an easy start or beans with brown rice is another simple dish.

Mise en place. This French term literally means “putting in place”. In the kitchen, this means having everything ready to go. Be sure to have your knives, cutting boards, measuring spoons and cups, whisks, and can openers available. Don’t forget to have your recipe and talking points available as well.

Keep things visible. While those bright green or orange Fiesta ware bowls are adorable, it’s best to use clear bowls to showcase ingredients. Have ingredients measured out and ready to add to limit how many items are in your prep space.

Showcase your nutrition knowledge and more. Provide tips on the recipe’s health benefits but also include prep tips, storage tips, and seasonal tips.

Engage your audience. “Pepper” your viewers with questions. This keeps things interesting while you’re chopping onions or mixing marinade. Have them cook along with you if possible.

Stay tuned for more tips in this next series on cooking demos! Check out our free recipe section or cooking demo recipe section for members.

Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

Reference
How the pandemic is shaping home cooking trends | SmartBrief

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We’re halfway through National Nutrition Month- the ‘thyme’ of the year when nutrition and health professionals celebrate their knowledge, skills, and talent. But where (and from whom) you get your nutrition information makes a difference. Would you trust your dentist to do your foot surgery? Probably not. Yet many food and health influencers claim to be nutrition experts without the necessary education, training, or credentials.

In any health-related field, we rely on science and research studies to make decisions and provide sound advice to consumers. Nutrition is no different. The US Dietary Guidelines, for example, are based on years and years of sound scientific data. While case studies are interesting to learn from, we don’t base decisions on 1 case study. Having a baby does not make a woman an expert in pregnancy or pediatric nutrition. Yet many influencers are taking the space that should be occupied by registered dietitians with years and years of experience in those fields and giving their opinions because they look good.

RD means Real Deal
The term nutritionist is similar to the word “natural”. It can mean multiple things depending on the context. According to careerexplorer.com, a nutritionist is “an expert in the field of food and nutrition. They work in many settings, including hospitals, cafeterias, nursing homes, and schools”. However, if you went to the HR department of most hospitals and asked who took care of their patient’s nutritional needs, it would likely NOT be a nutritionist.

The term nutritionist can be used by anyone with an interest in nutrition, with or without a degree or training in nutrition. This could be someone working in a supplement shop, a second-year nutrition student or a health coach. It could also be a dietitian.

A Registered Dietitian (RD) may call themselves a nutritionist, but a nutritionist cannot call themselves a dietitian. What’s the difference? A Registered Dietitian obtains a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited dietetics program and obtains 1200 hours of training under the guidance of at least one other RD, but is often mentored by many. The “RD2be” must take and pass a rigorous 4-hour exam and maintain 75 hours of continuing education credits over a 5-year period to remain registered.

The RD credential has been in use since 1970, but due to media confusion with the use of “nutritionist”, the term RDN (registered dietitian nutritionist) was deemed appropriate as of 2013 by CDR (the Commission on Dietetic Registration). This was done to elevate the dietitian brand and reduce confusion as to who consumers should turn to for nutrition advice. RDs do not have to use RDN. They may use RD or RDN.

Buyer beware

Mommy bloggers and influencers with high numbers of followers on TikTok and Instagram are often paid by food or supplement companies to represent their brand as an influencer. The definition of “influencer” is someone who influences others through writing, video, pictures, or other means in order to sway decisions or sell a product. Several internet influencers have from 1,000 to over 23 million followers on their social channels. Some celebrities are influencers, but not all influencers are celebrities.

According to FTC (Federal Trade Commission) guidelines, influencers must clearly disclose endorsements to their followers. Whether they are “paid” in samples or cash, they must be open about their relationship with the brand.

RDs may be influencers, too. They may be providing product reviews, endorsements, recipes, or other means of marketing for various brands. Like everyone else, RD influences must disclose their relationship with the brands they represent.

How to spot an influencer
• Look for the words “ad, sponsored, samples, or paid partnership” on their post.
• They have a legitimate platform on Youtube, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or another social network account.
• They interact with their followers and comment back to posters about products.
• A dietitian influencer may have a specific niche such as diabetes, pediatrics, weight loss, or women’s health.
• Several of their posts contain the mention or pictures/videos of various food brands and products.
* Look for the RD or RDN credentials for the "Real Deal", but remember- these professionals are being compensated in some way, too.

Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

Handout: How to spot a fad diet

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