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Spring has Sprung! Enjoying the Fruits and Veggies of Spring

March 29, 2012

Spring has sprung and so have the fruits and vegetables.   April will bring fresh strawberries, nectarines and asparagus.  To get the best use out of your fruits and vegetables, be sure to select the freshest produce and store them properly.


Pick the brightest strawberries with green tops.  The sweetest berries are small and fragrant.   Enjoy your strawberries within three days of purchasing them.  Do not wash until you are ready to eat them.  If you wish to store your strawberries for more than three days, dry off washed berries with a paper towel, remove tops and freeze them. 


Nectarines are a juicy, spring fruit, available from April to August.  These sweet fruits are similar to peaches, minus the fuzz.  They are smaller and smooth skinned golden yellow with large blushes of red. Nectarines are more delicate than peaches and bruise very easily.  Ripe fruit are fragrant and give slightly to the touch. Look for fruit with smooth unblemished skin.   To keep nectarines fresh, place them in a plastic bag in the coolest part of the refrigerator.   


Asparagus’s peak season is considered to run from April to June, in warmer climates.  The green spears can appear as early as February.  Asparagus are long green stalks that usually come in bundles.  They pack a whopping 114% of recommended daily allowance (RDA) per 1 cup serving of vitamin K, which is important for bone health, and nearly 66% RDA of folate, which helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Tasty Ways to Use these Fresh Fruits and Veggies:

ŸMake a green smoothie with spinach and frozen strawberries.  “Spinach, in a smoothie?” you may ask.  Yes!  Trust me, it won’t taste like spinach and it is packed with vitamins and minerals.  Blend frozen strawberries, half a cup of Greek yogurt, one cup of 1% milk, and fill the rest of the blender with spinach.  If you like it a little sweeter, add a little honey.

 ŸTry a salad with strawberries.  It’s another unique yet delicious combination.  Choose dark leafy greens like spinach and romaine.  Add walnuts, pecans and grilled chicken into the mix for a delicious spring salad.

ŸMake your own nectarine puree!  Put sliced nectarines in a jar with lemon juice and let stand for 15 minutes.  Pour into a bowl and mash to a puree consistency.  Use this to spread on whole wheat toast or as a topping to yogurt. 

ŸAdd sliced nectarine to your favorite high fiber cereal!  Mixing nectarines in your cereal will surely add a sweet, nutritious component to your next breakfast meal.

ŸWith the warmer weather approaching, it’s time to uncover that grill! Throw some asparagus on the grill and drizzle some olive oil on top.   Add some yellow and red pepper for a colorful and crunchy nutritious veggie dish.

  ŸTry making your own Bruschetta using chopped asparagus and tomatoes.  Cut whole wheat toast in bite size squares and top with asparagus and tomato.  Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice to create a deliciously light snack.  Or better yet, serve as an appetizer at your next social gathering! 

Spring is a time to take advantage of the warm weather, sunshine, and blooming flowers.   Use this season for all its worth and take advantage of the fruits and vegetables that are offered at this time!

Let me know how you are enjoying the many spring fruits and vegetables!     









American Diabetes Association Alert Day

March 27, 2012

Diabetes has been diagnosed in 18.3 million Americans, both male and female and amongst all types of ethnicities.  Odds are you know someone who has type 2 Diabetes or know people with a family history of Diabetes.  Today (March 27th) is the American Diabetes Association Alert day!  Today is used as a “wake-up call” asking people to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes.  The test simply asks questions based on your weight, age, family history, and other environmental risks that could potentially put you at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes.  Preventative measures are also given, so it is a great way to reinforce all of the things you are already doing and add new tips for prevention!


Quick tips on preventing Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet filled with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low fat dairy products, and a diet low in saturated and trans fats. 
  • Increase your level of physical activity.  Make it a point to add physical activity into your busy schedule; whether it’s walking on your lunch break or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, everything counts!  With the warm weather on its way you can take walks around your neighborhood, go for a bike ride, or a jog at the local track to keep your physical activity level high. 
  •  Maintain a healthy weight.  Skinny does NOT mean healthy!  Being at a healthy weight is individualized for each person and the number on the scale shouldn’t bring you down.  Instead aim for a weight that you feel healthy and comfortable at. 

 Take the Diabetes Risk Test today; what are you waiting for!


This year’s American Diabetes Association Alert Day slogan is “Take it and share it”, so be sure to take the test for yourself and spread the word to your friends and families.  Through prevention and awareness we can get closer to stopping diabetes in its tracks!

If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes or you currently have diabetes and are in need of medical nutrition therapy, please contact me at or call 516-486-4569.  Visit my website at for more information.



March 26, 2012

Your mother always told you to eat your spinach and she knew what she was talking about!  Spinach has been around for centuries and became popular in the United States by 1806.   By the 1920’s the popular cartoon, Popeye the Sailorman, used spinach to give Popeye his muscles and strength.  Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, and fiber.  And in addition, eating dark leafy vegetables such as spinach may help protect against certain types of cancers. 


Spinach can be found fresh, canned, or frozen.  When choosing fresh spinach make sure the leaves are green and crisp with a fresh aroma for best quality.  Spinach grows in sandy soil so it is important to wash it thoroughly before use, by soaking it in a large bowl of water allowing the sand to drop to the bottom.  Repeat this process until sand is no longer seen on the bottom of the bowl. 


Spinach is a versatile vegetable and can be prepared many different ways. 

Microwaving spinach by placing damp leaves in a microwave safe container (loosely covered) and cook for 4-7 minutes per ½ pound of spinach.  Steaming only takes 5 -10 minutes and is a great way to prepare spinach as a side dish.  Sautee spinach by using a little olive oil for several cups of chopped spinach and add garlic and onion for additional flavor.  Lastly, it can simply be eaten raw for a crisp tasting vegetable. 



Get a boost of nutrients with these creative ways to include spinach in your menus:


  •  Change up your salads and swap lettuce for fresh spinach leaves
  •  Add spinach to your favorite fruit smoothie!  It’s a great way to add a boost of vitamins and minerals without altering the taste. 
  •  Spinach pesto!  Use spinach leaves in place of basil leaves in your favorite pesto recipe. 
  •  Add spinach to breakfast omelet and stir-fry (spinach, red and green peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and cauliflower)
  •  Spinach dip using spinach, low fat cheese, sliced cashews, and pine nuts


Here’s a sneak preview of a recipe from my new cookbook (soon to be published).  Let me know how you like it!





Spinach Almond Salad


Serves: 6

Serving Size: 1 cup



4 cups spinach leaves

1 cup sliced beets, drained

1 cup shredded carrots

½ cup chopped red onion

½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons slivered almonds




1.  Mix spinach, beets, carrots, red onion and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice.  Toss salad with

     dressing.   Sprinkle almonds on top.



March 25, 2012

I am taking a break from my Passover cleaning and menu planning to share another 10 tips with you in Part 2 of my Countdown to Passover: 30 Tips in 30 Days

 TIP # 20:  You’ll go CRAZY over Passover the Healthy Way’s Craisin Almond Macaroon recipe!  It’s not only delicious, it’s a calorie saver!  Ordinary coconut macaroons contain about 280 calories and 10 grams of saturated fat.  Craisin Almond Macaroons are 115 calories and 4 grams of “healthy” fat.


TIP # 19:  Keep the kids busy while you cook.  Encourage creativity by having them make their very own Seder Place Mat!  Check out this link to learn how!


TIP # 18:  Adjust your Passover recipes by reducing the ingredients high in sodium a little at a time.  Don’t be fooled by recipes without table salt that do call for instant soups, bouillon cubes, or condiments which are high in sodium!  Experiment with herbs and spices and get the benefit of antioxidants many provide.


TIP # 17:  Buy in bulk and share with a friend.  Food items bought in bulk are usually less expensive and give a better “bang for your buck”.  Ask supermarket managers if they will give discounts for items bought in bulk and split the cost and food items with a friend or neighbor!


TIP # 16:  Another great craft for the kids…have them make and decorate their very own wine goblet for the 4 cups of wine at the Seder!  Here’s how…


TIP # 15:  Eggplant cutlets are a great vegetarian option for a Passover meal!  Replace bread crumbs with matzoh meal to make a delicious dish that even meat lovers will enjoy!


TIP #14:  Traditional Passover recipes are laden with oil which increases the calories in each serving.  There are 9 calories per gram of fat, compared to 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrate.  Cut back on the oil, and cut back on the calories.  Substitute the oil with equal amounts of applesauce!  Or, cut the amount of oil in the recipe by 1/3 and replace that third with applesauce or pureed prunes.  You will get the same moist flavor while saving on the amount of fat and calories.


TIP # 13:  Make your holiday guests feel at home with a Passover greeting card created by your kids.  Check out this link for another great craft for the kids.


TIP # 12:  Cooking ahead is crucial if you have the space.  While there are some recipes that have to be made on Passover, there are many that can be made ahead of time and frozen.  This will give you more time to focus on those specific dishes that must be made fresh.


TIP # 11:  Do you make your matzoh balls from an instant mix?  If yes, you must try Passover the Healthy Way’s FLAVORFUL Matzoh Balls and SAVE about 500 milligrams of sodium.  They are easy to make, full of flavor and healthier.  What more can you ask for?  Get your copy of Passover the Healthy Way today at



Passover the Healthy Way’s popularity is burning up! Receive a FREE potholder with your purchase of the cookbook online at supplies last).


And there’s more… receive a FREE downloadable Passover Activity Book with your purchase.  Great to keep the kids busy as you prepare for Passover.  Adults will like it too!


To be Organic or Not to be Organic: THAT is the question!

March 21, 2012

Many people often wonder if organically grown foods are “better” for you?  People might make the assumption that eating organic fruits and vegetables are a healthier choice to non-organic fruits and vegetables.  However, we must consider various factors before making the decision to “be organic or not to be organic”.


So what is organic? Organic refers to a non-conventional farming method that eliminates the use of fertilizer and weed and insect repellents (ie. Herbecides). This type of farming is meant to protect the environment by conserving water and soil and decreasing pollution.  Foods that are grown organically must meet specific requirements to meet USDA standards.   


Now, that we determined what organic is, let’s look at some things you might consider when choosing organic or non-organic foods.


Nutritional Content:

Most recent data has shown that consuming organic fruits are not more nutritious than those that are non-organic.  However, there are some studies that beg to differ.  This topic remains inconclusive.  Nevertheless, incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your day is essential to improving your health; organic or not.



Organic farming methods are typically more expensive than those of conventional methods yielding higher prices.  Additionally, government regulations, more farming manpower and lower crop yields make organic a more expensive option. 


Health Concern:

Many are concerned that the pesticides and herbicides sprayed during conventional farming pose a health risk.  The pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed during conventional farming are meant to protect produce from weeds, rodents and insects.  Whether the amount of pesticide a person is exposed to poses a health risk remains debatable.  An organization of scientists, researchers and policy makers called the Environmental Working Group put together a list to give us more insight as to the amount of pesticides on various produce.  They called this list “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean Fifteen”.  These lists guide consumers as to which produce should be bought organic and which are not necessary.   The twelve fruits and veggies included on “The Dirty Dozen” list have tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals and some, as many as 67.  Those on “The Clean Fifteen” were tested to have no or little traces of chemicals and are safe to consume in their non-organic form.  I have included the list below:     


The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen


The Dirty Dozen





          Domestic Blueberries


          Sweet Bell Peppers


          Kale and Collard Greens


          Imported Grapes



The Clean Fifteen



          Sweet Corn



          Sweet Peas


          Kiwi fruits






          Sweet Potatoes


So, that still leaves the question organic or not? First, it is best to consider the factors above before making this decision.  Second, it is wise to consider The Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15 before consuming non-organic fruits and veggies.  Third, if cost is the issue, perhaps consider shopping at local farmers markets so you are at least contributing to your local economy.  And, REMEMBER it is always best to choose to incorporate fruits and veggies into your daily intake than to not incorporate them at all. 


Are you organic or not-organic?  Looking forward to your comments.


March 19, 2012

If you are like me, you can’t believe that Passover is in only 18 days!!!  The cleaning has started, but have you thought about making up your menus and shopping list?  I started the countdown to Passover on March 9th, thirty days before Passover begins.  Over the next two weeks, I will share with you my 30 tips in 30 days that I have been posting daily on my Passover Facebook page

TIP # 30: Create a master computerized shopping list!  Write your shopping list containing everything you will need for Passover and input it in the computer.  Print and place it on your refrigerator so you can add items as you make up your menus.  Then, take the list with you when you go shopping, and check off the items as you put them in your shopping cart.  Being organized can help you avoid purchasing double items and reduce the holiday stress of making multiple trips to the supermarket!  Once Passover is over, do an inventory of your leftovers and adjust your shopping list in the computer for next year.  For example, if you bought six boxes of matzo meal and had two left over, change the purchase amount in the computer to four boxes for next year.

TIP # 29:  Reduce the calories and fat in your dairy recipes such as matzoh lasagna and matzoh pizza by using fat-free or 1% milk, cheese and dairy products in place of whole milk or 2% milk.  Remember, 2% milk is not low fat, it is reduced fat.  Low fat means that a serving of that product has no more than 3 grams of fat.  

TIP # 28:  It’s never too early!  Preparing for Passover can be exhausting, but not if you plan ahead.  Make a “to do” list with tasks assigned to specific dates so you know that you will get everything done on time.  If it is written into your schedule, it is harder to brush it off.  You can also photocopy from a calendar the month before Passover, and write directly onto the calendar what you will do on each day!

TIP # 27:  Start early!  Purchase shelf stable food items in advance before supermarkets raise prices.  Buying items early will guarantee to save you money and help you avoid crowded supermarkets lines!

TIP # 26:  Want to enjoy all your favorite Passover foods without the excess calories?  Can’t go through Passover with eating Matzoh Brei?  Now you can have it without any guilt!  A traditional Matzoh Brei recipe has about 384 calories, 18 grams of fat, 423 mg of cholesterol and 275 mg of sodium.  Passover the Healthy Way’s Matzoh Brei recipe will SAVE you about 185 calories, 10 grams of fat, 283 milligrams of cholesterol and 230 milligrams of sodium!!!  Make the healthy switch today by purchasing Passover the Healthy Way Cookbook at !  FREE gift with your purchase!

TIP # 25:  Have you started your Passover shopping yet?  Made your Passover menu yet?  The freezer is your friend!  Make a list of ingredients you will need for Passover now and during your regular trips to the supermarket, pick up these ingredients and freeze it until it is time to use for Passover.

 TIP # 24:  Passover recipes traditionally call for a lot of eggs.  This year, replace the eggs in the recipe with egg whites.  Two egg whites = 1 whole egg.  If a recipe calls for 2 whole eggs, use one egg and 2 egg whites.  Your recipe calls for 6 eggs, use 3 eggs and 6 egg whites.  You will go through quite a few dozen eggs, but it’s sure worth cutting down on the fat and cholesterol in your Passover dishes!

TIP # 23:  The kids love searching for the afikomen and then hiding it for negotiation time!  Have them make a special afikomen bag to use at the seder!  Check out this link to learn how!

TIP # 22:  We all love a little sweet for dessert.  But that chocolate cake recipe you make calls for 12 eggs and loads of oil and sugar.  Worst yet, if you buy it pre-made, you are also getting trans-fat!  Well, Passover the Healthy Way is here to save the day.  Check out our Scrumptious Chocolate Cake recipe with only 120 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving.  What are you waiting for?  Order your copy today at!

TIP # 21:  KISS – Keep It Simple Silly!  It is already impressive in itself that you have taken on the responsibility of preparing the Seder; there is no need to pick the most complicated dishes.  A simple recipe done well is better than a complicated one you really do not have time to execute.


Passover the Healthy Way’s popularity is burning up! Receive a FREE potholder with your purchase of the cookbook online at supplies last).


And there’s more… receive a FREE downloadable Passover Activity Book with your purchase.  Great to keep the kids busy as you prepare for Passover.  Adults will like it too! 


Watch our next post for a delicious Passover recipe from Passover the Healthy Way!


Happy Registered Dietitian Day

March 14, 2012

Hi!  My name is Jessica Acosta and I am a guest blogger today at The Nutrition Key with BRG.   I have worked with Bonnie Giller for a year and a half and it never ceases to amaze me how Bonnie helps her patients.  For those of you who know Bonnie, you know how hard she works to provide her patients with the best care possible, always being compassionate and understanding.  


All throughout March, we are celebrating National Nutrition Month (NNM), a campaign held annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  NNM focuses on the importance of developing healthy eating habits and engaging in regular physical activity. NNM promotes the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its associates to the public as the most valuable and reliable source of timely, science-based food and nutrition information.


Today, March 14th, 2012 marks the fifth annual Registered Dietitian Day, reminding everyone that a registered dietitian is the best source of practical and credible food and nutrition information.  The RD credential is a vital distinction when determining where Americans can get safe and accurate nutrition information.  Registered Dietitian Day celebrates the commitment of RDs, during National Nutrition Month and throughout the year, as strong supporters of improving the nutrition and health of Americans and people all over the world. 


While the term “nutritionist” is used freely, it is important to remember that many states do not have licensure for this term – so anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist” without the appropriate qualifications.  Look for the RD credential after the person’s name to ensure you are getting safe and science-based nutrition information   


Take a moment today and let your registered dietitian know how grateful you are that he/she has helped you!  I know I am grateful for the guidance Bonnie has given me and I went out of my way today to tell her!   


What have you done today to show appreciation to your registered dietitian?  Let me know!

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