8 Skin-protecting Foods to Keep your Family Safe

8 Skin-Protecting Foods

Skin protecting foods

Aside from slathering on sunscreen when you go out, the next best thing you can do for your skin’s health is to eat a diet rich in antioxidants. These nutrients work to protect your body’s cells (including skin cells) from the damage of free radicals.

Add these sun-friendly foods to your next shopping trip.

Salmon: Omega-3-rich fish have incredible anti-inflammatory powers and can help protect cells from free radical damage (like that caused by the sun). Fresh, frozen, canned, it is all a great source.

Red and Orange Vegetables and Fruits: Lycopene, a natural pigment and antioxidant, found in tomatoes and other red and pink produce has been shown to aid in protection against some UV-induced skin irritations like sun burn. Lycopene helps rid the body of free radicals. Beta-carotene — another type of carotenoid found in red and orange produce — has been linked to reduced reactions to sunburns, and orange and pink citrus fruits have been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against UV rays. Try carrots, tomatoes (Muir Glen Fire Roasted are my favorite), watermelon, grapefruit and sweet potatoes.

Dark Chocolate: The delicious dark stuff, made of 65 percent or more raw cocoa, contains amazing antioxidants called flavonoids, which help protect the body from sun damage. Do your waist a favor and have just a small amount (one ounce per day). My personal pick? Green & Black’s 70% Dark Chocolate.

Green and Blacks Dark Chocolate

Cruciferous Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cauliflower, are packed with essential antioxidants that help fight those pesky free radicals. Bonus points? This family of veggies has also been linked to cancer prevention not only in the skin, but in a number of other organs as well.

Leafy Greens: If it’s green and leaf-like, chances are it’s also good for sun protection. Fresh herbs — specifically parsley, basil, sage, and rosemary — are packed with our free-radical fighting and skin-protecting antioxidant friends. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss chard are all full of antioxidants which may also naturally protect the skin from sun damage.

Green and Black Tea: Green and Black teas (which actually start as leafy greens — surprise, surprise) are packed with compounds that can help stop cancer development by limiting the blood supply to the cancerous area. My go-to favorite is Dilmah’s Caramel tea. #nomnom

Dilmah Caramel Tea

Strawberries, Kiwis, and Oranges: High in vitamin C, these three fruits are fully equipped to help block the development of cancer cells. Vitamin C is great for helping neutralize free radicals that your body produces in response to the cellular damaged caused by exposure to sunlight. Cool fact: Kiwi is the king of fruits. Ounce for ounce, it packs more vitamin C than any other fruit. Simple wash, cut the ends off and eat – skin and all!

Seeds and Nuts: Top off a salad, yogurt, or smoothie with slivered almonds, chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds—all contain vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant that protects against sun damage. This vitamin has also proven to slow the aging of skin cells and help diminish the appearance of scars.


Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

If there are two vegetables that scream “dietitian”, they have to be kale and Brussels sprouts. Kale has seen a rise to fame over the past couple of years, but it is the untapped Brussels sprouts that excites me! If you immediately scrunch up your nose at the mere mention of Brussels sprouts, give me this one chance.   The Brussels sprouts are served raw (no mushy paste here) and shredded, mixed with fresh kale (any kind will do), almonds, Parmesan cheese, and a lemon-Dijon vinaigrette. #YUM.

This salad has it all. Sweet (honey), sour (lemon juice), salty (Parmesan), bitter (kale and Brussels sprouts), and crunchy (almonds).

It takes a little time to slice up the Brussels sprouts, but is totally worth it. I have used several types of kale in the salad, but usually go between baby kale (no cutting or washing required) and lacinato/dinosaur kale (firmer and darker than standard curly kale). Besides the veggies, I typically have the rest of these ingredients on hand.

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad (Serves 6)

All you need:
For the dressing: 1 tbsp minced green onions
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil

For the salad:
4 cups chopped kale (Lacinato, curly, baby, any type works great)
4 cups finely shredded Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup sliced roasted almonds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 All you do:
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the green onions, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey and olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, toss together the shredded kale, shredded Brussels sprouts and almonds. Add the dressing, tossing to combine, then add the cheese and toss. Serve immediately.

Beets – Give Them Another Chance with Beet and Feta Burgers

I have a confession to make. I am a registered dietitian and I don’t like beets.  There, I said it. Phew, I feel better getting it off my chest.

At least that was the case until today. I have tried numerous beet recipes in the past, always hopeful that one of them would be a “keeper”. But the recipes always failed to cover up the dirty, earthy after taste. I have tried Harvard beets, grilled beets, steamed beets, pickled beets, raw beets, beet hummus, and even beets in a smoothie. But I was always left saying the same thing: “I just don’t like beets!”

Well, I’m here to tell you that I have found a beet recipe that is amazing! It is simple to make and oh, so pretty.

As a warning, when dealing with beets, you will want to wear an apron (or at least avoid wearing white). As proof, here is a photo of the aftermath.

All you do for the burgers is grate the beets and onion, stir in the rest of the ingredients, and let it rest for a minimum of 30 minutes. Letting it rest is what allows it to stick together.

Beet and Feta Burgers

(Makes 6 to 8 burgers)

  • cups grated beets (about 4 to 5 beets)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 8 ounces feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt and black pepper
  • tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil, for frying
  1. Peel and grate beets and onion, using a box grater or food processor.
  2. Place the grated vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add garlic, olive oil, eggs, rolled oats, feta, basil, salt and pepper and mix everything well.
  4. Set aside for about 30 minutes, so the oats can soak up the liquid and the mixture sets (this step is important for the patties to hold together).
  5. Try shaping a patty with your hands. If the mixture is to loose, add additional oats.
  6. Form 6 to 8 patties with your hands.
  7. In a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Fry the burgers 3-5 minutes on each side, cooking until they are crispy and golden.
  8. Serve with a grilled ciabatta roll and toppings of your choice (lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and onions).

Lemon Honey Ginger Tea. A Natural Sore Throat Remedy

Spring can’t come soon enough. It seems like everyone in our family keeps passing around the winter icks. One of my favorite ways to soothe a sore throat is with a hot mix of lemon, honey and giner.

The recipe is simple: fill your favorite mug with hot water, add sliced lemons and ginger and a drizzle of honey. The longer this steeps, the more pronounced the flavors.

lemon honey tea

No ginger? No problem!  I will often make this with a mixture of just lemon and honey, two ingredients I always have on hand.



Petition to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – #RepealTheSeal

I am participating in the #RepealTheSeal campaign to show my disagreement with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' recent decision to allow the Kids Eat Right logo onto food packaging.   I invite my fellow colleagues and bloggers who share this opinion, or who support this campaign, to also post this Open Letter on their own blog, to sign the petition at change.org, and/or to use #RepealTheSeal hashtag via social media.

I am participating in the #RepealTheSeal campaign to show my disagreement with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ recent decision to allow the Kids Eat Right logo onto food packaging.
I invite my fellow colleagues and bloggers who share this opinion, or who support this campaign, to also post this Open Letter on their own blog, to sign the petition at change.org, and/or to use #RepealTheSeal hashtag via social media.

March 16, 2015.  To Mary Beth Whalen, President Sonja Connor, leadership at the Academy and the Kids Eat Right (KER) Foundation:

As long-time members and proud supporters of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), we are dismayed, shocked, and saddened by the blog post in last week’s New York Times. The piece (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/a-cheese-product-wins-kids-nutrition-seal/?_r=0 – ) reports on the KER Foundation’s Nutrition seal— a seal that the Academy states was not an endorsement of the product, but is an indicator of the brands that support Kids Eat Right.

As dedicated Registered Dietitians/Nutritionists and food and nutrition experts, we are protesting the Academy’s position to allow the Kids Eat Right logo on Kraft Singles, as well as the possibility to allow any future implied endorsement of any product by AND for the following reasons:

Flawed Understanding of the Marketplace

We wholly reject the rationale that the Academy used in their formal press release to defend the nature of the relationship between Kraft and the Academy. A logo on a product label is an endorsement, an alignment, and recognition of a paid relationship. Simply stating otherwise in a press release, no matter how emphatically, doesn’t change this fact. Rather, AND’s actions illustrate how profoundly out of touch AND is with business principles, which has put our professional integrity and credibility at risk. It is also a decision that is out of touch with members’ values.

Failure to Provide Transparency to AND Members and Consumers

We work hard to provide full transparency in all of our own business relationships, and we expect the same from the Academy. Failure to be transparent about ANDs actions violates the Academy’s own Ethics Policy, which calls for the highest standards of honesty and integrity, and for members to not engage in false or misleading practices of communications.

Actions Requested of the Academy: #RepealtheSeal

We ask that the Academy make available to its members, the media and the public the following:

  • We ask for full transparency regarding the process of approval to allow the KER logo on the Kraft product— including the names of those involved, the meeting minutes of the discussion, and Board’s vote on this issue.
  • We ask for full disclosure of the terms of the financial agreement between KER Foundation and Kraft. We also request full transparency regarding the status of future agreements under consideration for use of our Logo.
  • We ask the Academy to provide their plan for the discontinuation of this specific relationship with Kraft and removal of the KER logo off Kraft Singles product packaging.

Academy members deserve strong leaders who will protect the integrity of the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist credential. This latest action is an embarrassing misstep that must be corrected swiftly in order to prevent further damage to the RD/RDN brand and to the Academy.

Sincerely, Rachel Begun MS, RDN Kate Geagan MS, RDN Regan Jones, RDN Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists colleagues listed at change.org

5 Reasons to Visit a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

5 reasons to visit a registered dietitian nutritionist
In honor of National Nutrition Month and National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, here are my top 5 reasons to set up a meeting with your registered dietitian nutritionist:

1. Prevention – this is the nutritionist’s best case scenario. Many people have family histories of cancer, heart disease and other major illnesses. By taking control of the factors you can change including diet and lifestyle, you have a chance of beating the odds. Investing in your health today will pay off with a happy, healthy future.

2. Support your body during illness – when diagnosed with an illness, all contributing factors must be assessed in order to effectively manage and/or reverse the progression. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist serves as an integral part of your health-care team by helping you safely change your eating plan without compromising taste or nutrition. What you eat and how you live is going to have a direct effect on your body’s ability to fight and recover.

3. Lose weight effectively – being overweight puts you at a higher risk of developing serious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. In order to lose weight properly and keep it off, more than just a “diet” is involved – a whole change in lifestyle is required, and those changes must be tailored to your unique physical, mental and emotional makeup.

4. Maximize the benefits from your fitness routine – being active and building muscle is half the battle – without the right foods going into your body, plus proper rest and relaxation for recovery, you will not reach your optimal state of health. Why put all the effort into challenging your body physically, if you are not going to do everything you can to ensure health from the inside?

5. Increase your energy and sense of well-being and eat smarter
– sometimes we get in a rut, and our work and family life suffers. Finding out what you may be doing wrong, and incorporating positive health-promoting changes can help you live the life you crave. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Learn how to read labels at the supermarket, discover that healthy cooking is inexpensive and learn how to eat out without ruining your eating plan. Eat well, feel well, and look great – people notice when you are radiating health, and it will boost your confidence and energize you!

Bacon Brussles Sprouts and Goat Cheese Pizza

Oh yes, you read that correctly. This dietitian put bacon and Brussels sprouts on PIZZA (the same pizza).

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am always looking for a pizza recipe. To me, pizza is the perfect food. You can have all the food groups addressed in one beautiful, easy-to-eat pie. Another reason that I love making pizza…? My kids eat it without complaining! SCORE!

I came across this recipe on a recent Pinterest binge (please tell me I’m not alone in getting completely lost in that black hole) and it just looked and sounded so amazing. In my mind, Brussels sprouts and bacon go together like cilantro and lime (can a relationship get any more perfect?) so I set out to conquer this new feat.

I started with freshly made dough (really so simple – as long as you plan for the rising time), rolled out nice and thin. I would love to say that I was going for an “artisan” crust, but really my rolling was distracted by a couple of hungry children fighting over who was the better cheese shredder! (If the state of my floors after all the cheese was shredded is any indication of a quality shredder, then they are both A+).

Pizza Dough

Finely slice the Brussels sprouts and green onions.




Mix sliced Brussels sprouts, bacon, onions, garlic, oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper together in a bowl.


WARNING: This mixture by itself is highly addictive.

Place the dough on a parchment-covered pizza stone, brushing with olive oil. Spread the Brussels sprouts mixture evenly over the crust and top with cheese. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese is melted.




Slice and enjoy!

Bacon Brussels Sprouts and Goat Cheese Pizza

All you need:
Raw pizza dough
4 tablespoons cooked bacon (I cheated and used the bagged bacon pieces found near the salad dressings)
5-6 Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsps minced garlic
1 Tbs olive oil, plus more for brushing the dough
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
4 ounces goat cheese, broken into pieces
1/4 Parmesan cheese

All you do:
1. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees for about 30 minutes prior to baking.

2. In a medium bowl, toss the thinly sliced Brussels sprouts with the green onions, garlic, oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Lightly dust counter top with flour or cornmeal, roll the pizza dough into a 14-inch circle (or any shape that fits your pizza stone). Place on a parchment paper-covered pizza stone. Brush the outside edge of the dough with olive oil.

4. Spread the Brussels sprouts mixture over the crust then top with cheeses.

5. Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the toppings are cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes before slicing and serving.

High Protein, Low Carb Pasta? Yes, it does exist!

With more and more people looking for higher protein and lower carbohydrate options, I have been on the search for a pasta that fits the bill (and still tastes great!).

I was beginning to think that such a product didn’t exist until I came across these amazing bean-based noodles. They come in 3 different varieties including black bean, soy bean, and soy + mung bean. I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant to try them, but the concept was too tempting. I’ve made a couple different dishes with them and have been amazed!


The first one I made was a pasta with the soy + mung bean noodles and a new sauce called Majka Ajvar (I’m not sure on the pronunciation, but am sure that it is delicious).

The sauce is red pepper and egg plant based, rather than tomato based. It is a savory sauce that isn’t overly acidic (like most pasta sauces and salsas). It can be used on pastas, as a dip for tortilla chips or even as a sauce to flavor veggies. ( I have been caught eating it with a spoon).

The noodles are great tasting and have a really nice (but slightly springy) texture.  The biggest plus is that they have 24g protein and only 9g of carbs per serving (compared to about 7g protein and 40g carbs in regular pasta). These noodles will keep you full and satisfied for hours.

Make a traditional pasta or an Asian stir fry. You won’t be disappointed!


DIY Beach Salt Texturizing Hair Spray

I have been trying to reduce the amount of chemicals that are used in my household. I have been making my own laundry soap for several years now and LOVE it. So I set out to tackle another favorite. I am in love with my Salt Surf Spray from my salon, but at $26.00 for just 4 ounces, I have to ration it like good dark chocolate. So I set out to create my own. I figured it couldn’t be too hard since the spray is supposed to mimic the look of hair after spending the day frolicking in the ocean. – Since Minnesota is not known for it’s coastal location (lakes yes, ocean no!), I’ll have to settle for the spray.

After several trial batches, I found a mix that works best with my hair (wavy, fine strands, but thick concentration). Mixing up a batch takes 5 minutes or less and helps give texture to my fine strands. I really like adding essential oils to give it fragrance, but it is completely optional. My current favorite is a mixture of lavender and lemon.
Surf Beach Spray
As you can see, the ingredient list is pretty simple. Salt (I prefer Epsom salt because it isn’t as drying and a little Himalayan salt for stiffness), aloe vera (for moisture), conditioner (to keep hair from drying out) and essential oils (for fragrance).

To make, heat 1 cup of water in a pan. Remove from heat. Add Epsom Salt.Epsom Salt

Add Himalayan salt.IMG_9693

Add aloe vera gel.IMG_9694

Add conditioner.IMG_9695

Add essential oils (3-4 drops is plenty). Stir until combined.IMG_9697

Let cool in pan before filling your spray container. Note: letting it cool is a crucial step that I was too impatient to do one day. And this is what happened to my container…… Thankfully it still works, but it doesn’t hold quite as much as it used too…

Poor, melted bottle...

Poor, melted bottle…

To use the spray, I prefer to spritz it on my hair when it is slightly damp then continue to style as normal. Which for me means to blow dry with a diffuser and use a 1″ straightener to put in accent curls. You can also spray into damp hair, scrunch and let air dry for authentic beach waves.

Here are a few photos of my hair once complete. Please don’t judge me! Self/hair photography isn’t my strength. IMG_8558[1]



Or, for those of you wanting a nice, gentle wave, shower at night, spray into damp hair and braid. In the morning your hair should be dry and wavy. You might want to spray a bit more salt spray in your hair for finishing texture.

Beach Salt Surf Hair Spray

All you need:
1 cup of hot water (not boiling)
2 tablespoons Epsom salts
½ tsp Himalayan or Sea Salt (optional but adds stiffness)
1 teaspoon (heaping) aloe vera gel
½ tsp conditioner
Optional: a few drops of essential oils (lavender and lemon are great options)

All you do:
1. Get a spray bottle that holds at least 8 ounces. Put water into a pan on the stove. Bring to a low boil. Remove from heat.
2. Add in Epsom salts, sea salt, aloe vera, conditioner, essential oils (optional).
3. Stir until combined. Let cool.
4. Pour into bottle. Use as you would other surf spray.
*Note, you will need to give the bottle a gentle shake before each use to mix up all the ingredients as they will settle a bit between uses.

Roasting a Turkey: No Dry Meat Allowed!

Turkey time is here! For some reason during the fall and winter I really enjoy roasting whole birds. Turkey, chicken, it doesn’t matter. I used to be really intimidated by the thought of cooking an entire turkey (or chicken). I mean, that is the kind of cooking reserved for grandmas and moms, right!? Someone who wears and apron and has mad-wicked cooking skills….

Whelp…. I hate to break it to you, but I am a mom (3 times over), AND, I wear an apron (a cute, coffee-themed one my friend gave me for a wedding gift).

Ignore the crazy bat behind my shoulder...

Ignore the crazy bat behind my shoulder…

SO, let’s give this roasted turkey thing a try! I promise, you won’t be disappointed. AND you will actually WANT to eat the white meat. No dry meat allowed!

Start by cutting up some onions, carrots, celery and lemon into small chunks. No need to wash or peel the carrots (you can use baby carrots if that is what you have). For this turkey I cut up 4 carrots, 1 onion, 3 stalks of celery and 1 lemon. You can use what you have (this is a great time to use of fresh herbs you have leftover from another recipe).

Once your veggies are cut up, combine salt and pepper in a separate bowl (I used approximately 2 tbsp salt and 1 tsp pepper). You will want to get all this done ahead of time, before breaking out the bird. -Trust me, you will be getting your hands dirty with the bird, you don’t want to have to grab ingredients from the fridge with turkey all over your hands.

Unwrap your thawed bird over the sink. This can be a bit messy because of the juices, but the sink will help contain everything. Take out the neck and any of the other packaged bit and pieces (discard or save for another use). Wipe down the outside of the turkey with a paper towel. Dry skin = crispy skin. Wet skin = soggy skin.

Now the fun begins. Stand that bird up (well actually, the bird will be upside down with its legs in the air). ;) Salt and pepper the inside by grabbing a bit from the bowl and massaging it all over the inside cavity. Fill the cavity with the chopped vegetables. (I warned you that your hands would get dirty).


The next step requires you to separate the skin from the meat. I promise you, you will not want to skip this part. This is how the magic happens. Sit the bird down so the legs are pointing towards you and the breasts are up. You will be using your fingers to do the work. Work your hands all around (don’t forget the thighs and legs. Rub more salt and pepper between the skin and meat (this is how you season the meat) then add the remaining vegetables under the skin. IMG_9025[1]

With the last bit of salt and pepper, rub it all over the outside of the bird. Put the turkey in a roasting pan (or a cake pan would work too – you just want something large enough with a bit of an edge). Fold the chicken wings backwards and tuck them under (this helps prop the turkey up and keeps the wings from burning). Don’t worry, you won’t hurt him. ;)

Now you are ready to pop him in the oven. I roast mine at 325 degrees for 3-3.5 hours (13# bird). I always go to the Butterball site for reference.

The last step is to clean up and disinfect while your labor of love cooks. Sit back and enjoy a book (or glass of wine)!

I loosely cover my turkey after 2 hrs to prevent over-browning. Let the turkey rest for 10-15 minutes to keep the juices in the meat.