When you’re a dietitian, the assumption is that eating healthy comes effortlessly to you. Believe me, that is not necessarily the case.  As a kid (and like many adults to this day), I turned up my nose at vegetables, preferred pizza to a healthy, home-cooked dinner and ate sugar like it was nobody’s business. However, as a teenage girl, I became concerned with my weight. Unfortunately, like a lot of girls do, I experimented with all sorts of diets (None of which stuck, of course.).  By the time I got to college, I was frustrated when failing at yet another fad diet quick fix for weight loss. I decided I wanted to know the healthy way to treat my body, which is how I found my calling as a Registered Dietitian.

That was just the beginning though. My diet has evolved over years from learning to actually like vegetables, teaching myself to cook, and my biggest challenge – taking control of my love of sweets. I’ve come to the realization that I am never going be able to cut all sugar from my diet; it just wouldn’t be sustainable. So I had to use a little ingenuity to develop strategies that would work for me. Ultimately, I learned how to control my sweet tooth by coming up with strategies that would allow me to indulge it in moderation. Here are some other things I learned:

I make sure good food comes first.

The purpose of eating is to provide your body the nutrients it needs to function. So I make it my priority to eat the healthy food I need before I dive into the treats.  Long story short – I have to eat my broccoli first if I am going to eat a cookie!

I learned to cook.

You do not have to be the next Top Chef, but learning to cook and bake opens so many doors when it comes to creating a menu that is both healthy and tasty. You have total control over what goes into your meal, and that can be very empowering. One tip I give my clients is that if you are really craving something you feel is unhealthy, find a healthy version recipe. Every time you eat is an opportunity for good nutrition.

I use stevia.

We do only need so many calories for the day so you do have to choose wisely on how you spend them. Stevia is a great low-calorie sugar alternative. I add it to my tea so my small cup of tea it does not become a calorie bomb. I use it in baking to make my recipes more waistline friendly. Stevia is my go-to for anytime I want some sweetness, but need to keep the calories and excess sugar in check. Check out steviabenefits.org recipes for ideas on how you can use stevia in your diet.

I prioritize sleep.

Fatigue is the arch nemesis of a healthy and balanced diet. Not getting enough sleep wreaks havoc on the hormones that regulate your hunger. You may find yourself snacking all day to try to boost your energy, and unfortunately, it tends to be the sweet stuff we go after. While it’s tempting to stay up and watch the end of that movie or do one last load of laundry….just GO TO BED!

I manage my stress.

Stress is a common reason for indulging a sweet tooth. For many of us, our first inclination is to run to the kitchen when we feel those stress levels building. To take control of your stress is to take control of your sweet tooth. Try replacing stress eating with a healthier coping technique, like reading, mediation, yoga, exercise, crafting, or any activity you find relaxing.

I am open minded when it comes to food.

I don’t discriminate when it comes to food. I love it all, the good, bad, and the ugly. This wasn’t always the case, but I found as I became more willing to try new foods, healthy eating started to feel less restrictive. The more healthy foods I discovered, the less I relied on sweets and junk food to get enjoyment from my meals. You don’t have to like everything, but you should be willing to try anything!

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Makes 12 Servings (3 Cups)

Ingredients

1 (20-oz.) bottle sparkling water
1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
1 cup vanilla vodka
3 Tbsp. Stevia In The Raw®

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart pitcher. Serve over ice.

Nutritional Information

Calories 140
Total Fat 0g
Carbohydrates 14g
Protein 9g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sodium 5mg
Sugars 14g

Recipe originally appeared on InTheRaw.com.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the most important steps to take in maintaining good health. However, it is not a surprise that this is where Americans tend to struggle the most in the quest for better health. As the seasons change and we go from the fall harvest to winter, many of our favorites disappear or become quite pricey.

And while it may seem like so much produce is out of season, there actually are some super tasty fruits and veggies that come into season during winter.  Here’s a rundown of seasonal winter produce that can help bolster your nutrition this winter.

Persimmon

There are two types of persimmons, the Hachiya (shaped like an acorn) and Fuyu (shaped like a squashed tomato.)  Persimmons are an excellent source of Vitamin A and fiber at only approximately 120 calories. A ripe persimmon has a rich and sweet flavor that make it great as a stand-alone snack or addition to recipe. Note: You want to be sure the persimmon is completely ripe otherwise it can taste bitter and starchy.  

Pomegranate

The pomegranate is a very sweet fruit made up of little seeds. The pomegranate is a great source of fiber, folate, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. It can be a bit labor intensive to pull the seeds from the pomegranate, but it is well worth the effort as you will end up with several servings of seeds. Sprinkle them on a salad or maybe try Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce this holiday season for a fun low-sugar twist on cranberry sauce.

Kiwi

This sweet little jewel of a fruit comes into season in the wintertime. The kiwi is a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, copper, fiber, and potassium. Easy to peel, they are a tasty and healthy snack at 42 calories.

Snow Peas

Snow peas are a rich in nutrition as a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic acid, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Fiber, Vitamins A, C, K, Thiamin, Folate, Iron, and Manganese. They are also very low in calories at approximately 35 calories for a 1 cup serving. They make a fantastic low-cal midday snack or can be used to add a fresh crunch to any dish or salad.

Parsnips

If you enjoy carrots, you will like the parsnips. While parsnips are lighter in color, they have a similar taste and texture to carrots. They are a good source of Potassium, Vitamin C, Folate, and Manganese. Use parsnips as a way to mix up your usual recipes and make fun, healthy winter recipes.

Winter Squash

The term winter squash encompasses several varieties of squash such as Butternut, Acorn, Delicata, and Spaghetti squash that are highly available in your local grocery in the winter months. While nutrition will vary between squash, they all are low in calories and high in fiber for a healthy winter veggie option. You can roast them or mash them, or even use them as a pasta alternative. Try this Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese replacing the sugar with stevia to keep it light. There are no limits to the ways you can prepare these winter veggies!

Check out the seasonal recipes section on www.steviabenefits.org for more recipes to keep you warm this winter.

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Some people cannot wait until the calendar turns from August to September, just so they can enjoy a variety of seasonal pumpkin food and drink offerings for the rest of the year!  Some folks don’t enjoy pumpkin-spice everything, but I, for one, am totally team pumpkin. I love the nostalgia related to the taste and smell of pumpkin. Even though the season is winding down, I still try to use pumpkin year round. Pumpkin is low in calories, but rich in fiber, vitamin A and other essential vitamins – making it a great addition to a healthy diet.

While the opportunity to try new pumpkin recipes is abundant this time of year, the down side is that many of these foods can be high in sugar, calories, and fat. But fear not pumpkin lovers – we can still evolve our recipes to enjoy healthier versions of the season’s favorites (And really, any time of year is the right time to take control of your diet and adapt recipes).

To celebrate the closing of pumpkin season, I have taken a popular pumpkin recipe to showcase how you can adapt recipes to fit into your healthy diet.

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

I love fruit and vegetable breads. They can be versatile as a dessert or as a quick breakfast – and they are easy to alter into healthier versions.  I decided to modify a recipe for pumpkin zucchini bread, which allows for bonus vegetables! The adapted recipe comes from Taste of Home’s Pumpkin Zucchini Bread.

My Adaptions to the Recipe:

  • I decided to add whole wheat flour to the recipe to add in more fiber and grains to the bread. I used 1.5 cups all-purpose flour and then 1.5 cups of whole white wheat flour.  (Note: You can completely substitute out the all-purpose flour for the wheat flour for a heartier, denser, and higher fiber bread.)
  • I also substituted ½ cup canola oil (with added omega-3) and ½ cup unsweetened applesauce for the 1 cup of butter. I love using unsweetened applesauce in breads as a partial fat substitute because not only does it cut fat and calories, but it adds in moisture for good texture.
  • The change that had the biggest impact was replacing the 1 cup of white sugar and  1 cup of brown sugar with 1 cup of stevia for baking.  Stevia for baking is not a zero calorie replacement, but a reduced calorie blend of cane sugar and stevia. This product facilitates the browning, taste, and texture which come from sugar in baking while significantly reducing the calories.

The Final Product

The final product was delicious! My adaptions resulted in a tasty, moist bread that I ate for breakfast the whole week. Nutritionally, the changes I made reduced the calories from 176 per slice down to 123 calories per slice, cut fat from 9g to 6.7g, and reduced sugar from 13g down to 3.9g per slice. That is a 9g reduction in sugar in just one slice!

This is just one example of how simple changes can be made to turn a typically high-calorie, high-fat and high-sugar food into something more nutritious. What is one of your favorite recipe adaptations?

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.