Diane May Nutrition Blog

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Another Reason to Eat More Plants

September 5th, 2019

A new study published in JAMA has found that there is an inverse relationship between animal and plant protein.  Those that consumed larger amounts of animal protein, red meat and processed meats in particular, had a higher risk for mortality (death) than those that consumed plant proteins. There have also been numerous studies in the past that have proven that more plant based diets can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, certain cancers, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.Does that mean we should all become vegetarians? Not necessarily. But it could be beneficial to consume more fish and plant based proteins and to significantly reduce red meat.  I recommend having at least one day that is meatless.  The USDA recommends we consume 5-13 servings of vegetables a day and 6 servings of complex grains a day.  So what are some goos sources of plant protein:

  • Chickpeas: A legume loaded with protein, fiber and complex carbs. 1 cup has 286 calories and 12 grams of protein. They can be tossed in a salad, made into a stew or whipped into dips such as hummus.
  • Lentils: Also a legume, has protein, fiber and carbohydrate, they are also an excellent source of iron.  1 cup has 230 calories and 17 grams of protein. Lentils do not need to be presoaked, so they are great to add to soups and stews.
  • Soy: High in protein, fiber, calcium and other nutrients. 1 cup boiled (edamame) has 298 calories and 29 grams of protein, firm tofu has 69 calories per 1/2 package and 10 grams of protein and tempeh has 320 calories for 1 cup and 31 grams of protein.  Can be added to a salad or eaten alone as a snack. Different soy products have different nutritional values. look for soy with the least additives.
  • Almonds: Contain, protein, fiber, magnesium and vitamin E. A full serving of almonds, 1/4 cup ( as a meal, not a snack) has 162 calories and 6 grams of protein. Whether used as a snack or added to salads, pay attention to portion control.
  • Quinoa: A grain that is also a complete protein, rich in iron, magnesium, manganese and fiber. 1 cup has 222 calories and 8 grams of protein. Swap out pasta for this healthy grain, add to salad or stews.
  • Chia seeds: High in Omega 3 fatty acid, fiber and a complete protein.  1 ounce contains 138 calories and 4.7 grams of protein. Add to smoothies and yogurt for a textural treat.
  • High protein vegetables: Many vegetables contain protein-not enough alone and need to be combined to make them complete. Higher protein vegetables include spinach (2.9 grams), broccoli-1 stalk (4 grams), mushrooms-4(2.4 grams), kale-1 cup (2.9).
  • Green peas: Great source of fiber, protein Vitamin A, C, K and folate. 1 cup cooked contain  118 calories and 8 grams of protein. served alone or in a meal, always satisfying.

Whatever plant you choose, you can’t go wrong, but without balance, if going more plant, make sure you are getting what you need.  Certain nutrients can become depleted when you reduce animal protein such as iron, B12, calcium, and zinc. When in doubt, get the assistance of an RD who can help you make sure you get all the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy diet.

Very Green Lentil Soup

From: EatingWell Magazine, Soup Cookbook

Lentils seem to go well with just about anything, and here they play well with a collection of greens and some cumin and coriander to add a gentle spicy note to this soup recipe. The result is a hearty winter soup with layers of flavor. Both French green lentils (available in natural-foods stores and specialty markets) and more commonly available brown lentils are delicious in this soup. The French green lentils hold their shape better when cooked, while brown lentils will start to break down a bit.

By:Anna ThomasEatingWell Recipe Contributor

Ingredients    8 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup French green (Le Puy) or brown lentils
  • 8 large green chard leaves
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, scrubbed
  • 12 cups gently packed spinach (about 10 ounces), any tough stems trimmed
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 cups vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground (see Tip)
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • Crumbled feta cheese for garnish


    •  Active    1 h 5 m
  • Ready In   1 h 20 m
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water and cover. Cook, stirring frequently until the pan cools down, and then occasionally, always covering the pan again, until the onions are greatly reduced and have a deep caramel color, 25 to 35 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse lentils and pick out any small stones; combine the lentils with the remaining 4 cups water in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Trim the white ribs out of the chard; chop the greens and slice the ribs (keep in separate piles). Cut potato into ½ -inch dice. Chop spinach; set aside.
  3. When the lentils have cooked for 20 minutes, stir in the chard ribs, potato, scallions, broth and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt; return to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the chard leaves, broccoli, cumin and coriander. When the onions are caramelized, stir a little of the simmering liquid into them; add them to the soup. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in the reserved spinach, cilantro, mint, jalapeno and pepper; return to a simmer, cover and cook until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice and/or pepper, if desired. Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil and crumbled feta cheese.
  • Tip: Toast cumin seeds in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly. Grind to a fine powder in a spice mill, blender or clean coffee grinder.
  • To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


Nutrition information

  • Serving size: about 1⅔ cups
  • Per serving: 181 calories; 4 g fat(1 g sat); 9 g fiber; 29 g carbohydrates; 9 g protein; 206 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 5,008 IU vitamin A; 28 mg vitamin C; 119 mg calcium; 5 mg iron; 535 mg sodium; 793 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (100% daily value), Folate (52% dv), Vitamin C (47% dv), Iron (28% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 2
  • Exchanges: 1½ vegetable, 1 lean protein, 1 starch, ½ fat

How You Live Can Effect Your Brain

August 9th, 2019

If there was something you could do that was free and easy to protect your brain, would you do it? Studies are showing that having a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing dementia, even if you have a genentic risk.  This is early research, but I believe how we live our daily life impacts our quality and longevity. A recent study in JAMA followed people over the age of 60 without dementia and they found that a favorable lifestyle had a positive impact on reducing the risk of cognitive decline.  Although this was an observational study, it is worth considering the benefits of changing your habits if you are doing harmful behaviors. So, how do we reduce these risks?

  • Don’t smoke, ever.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. Men should have no more than one alcoholic beverage and women should have no more than one alcoholic beverage a day.
  • Make sure you move your body every day for at least 30 minutes. Dance, swim, play tennis, run…just do something.
  • If you have a sedentary job, make sure you get up once an hour and shake it out-stand, stretch.
  • Stay well hydrated. Goal of 48-64 ounces of water a day. Remove all beverages with calories and avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Use sunscreen and make sure you see a dermatologist once a year for a skin check.
  • Eat 5-13 servings of vegetables and fruits a day-take advantage of the beautiful farmers markets in your area. Eat seasonally and locally.
  • Make all your grains whole and complex such as brown rice, quinoa, bulgar, teff.
  • Eat fatty fish at least 2x/week such as salmon, arctic char, mackerel, herring and tuna.
  • Reduce consumption of red meat.
  • Added sugar in moderation.

You don’t have to make radical changes all at once. Lifestyle change takes time, but your brain with thank you!


Greek Grilled Salmon Kebabs with Tzatziki & Green Beans

From: Diabetic Living Magazine, Fall 2019

This easy grilled salmon recipe is sure to help you win your next backyard BBQ. Lemon, garlic and herbs make a simple, flavorful marinade for the healthy fish souvlaki (souvlakia is the Greek word for kebabs), and the yogurt-based tzatziki sauce is one of the traditional pleasures of Mediterranean cuisine. A side of Greek-style green beans completes this healthy dinner recipe that’s as suited to entertaining as it is to family meals.

Ingredients 4 servings


  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons minced garlic, divided (about 10 cloves)
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 4 tsp. dried
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • 1 (1 pound) skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1½ cups low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 English cucumber, grated ( ¾ cup)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced ( ¾ cup)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound thin green beans (French-style/haricots verts), trimmed


  • Prep  20 m
  • Ready In 1 h
  1. Combine lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. garlic, 4 Tbsp. parsley, oregano, 1 Tbsp. oil, and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper in a large shallow dish. Add salmon; toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine yogurt and cucumber in a medium bowl. Stir in 2 Tbsp. dill, 1 Tbsp. garlic, and ¼ tsp. salt. Refrigerate the tzatziki until ready to serve.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp. garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and the remaining 2 Tbsp. dill, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add green beans; stir to coat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  5. Remove the salmon from the marinade; scrape off any excess marinade. Carefully thread the fish onto 4 metal or wooden skewers.
  6. Oil the grill grates (see Tip). Grill the skewers until seared on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Use potholders or oven mitts to turn the skewers over. Continue grilling, turning the skewers as needed, until the salmon is opaque in the center, 5 to 7 minutes total.
  7. Transfer the green beans to a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp. parsley. Serve with the salmon and the tzatziki.
  • Tip: Clean grill grates well before grilling to prevent fish from sticking. To oil grill grates, soak a paper towel with vegetable oil, hold it with tongs, and rub it over the grates. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)
  • Equipment: 4 metal or wooden skewers
  • To make ahead: Refrigerate tzatziki (Step 2) for up to 2 days.


Nutrition information


  • Serving size: 1 skewer + ½ cup tzatziki + 1¼ cups green beans
  • Per serving: 367 calories; 13 g fat(3 g sat); 5 g fiber; 27 g carbohydrates; 36 g protein; 85 mcg folate; 62 mg cholesterol; 13 g sugars; 2,425 IU vitamin A; 61 mg vitamin C; 262 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 693 mg sodium; 1,043 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (102% daily value), Vitamin A (48% dv), Calcium (26% dv), Folate (21% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Peach Cobbler

From: EatingWell.com, July 2018

A fruit cobbler is an old-fashioned, crowd-pleasing dessert that showcases summer’s sweetest produce. Use fresh peaches when they are in season. The rest of the year, you can use frozen peaches for a quick and easy homemade dessert.

Ingredients 8 servings


  • Filling
  • 1¼ pounds fresh peaches (3-4 large), peeled, if desired, and thinly sliced, or 4 cups sliced frozen peaches, thawed
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Topping
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Prep 20 m
  • Ready In 1 h 20 m
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. To prepare filling: Combine peaches, ¼ cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a large bowl; toss to coat. Transfer to a 9-inch shallow glass or ceramic baking dish.
  3. To prepare topping: Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until well blended. Whisk egg, buttermilk, oil and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to blend.
  4. Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Evenly spoon the batter over top of the peach mixture. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the topping. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake until the peaches are bubbly, the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the topping comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving.


Nutrition information


  • Serving size: ⅛ of cobbler
  • Per serving: 233 calories; 9 g fat(1 g sat); 3 g fiber; 37 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 9 mcg folate; 25 mg cholesterol; 18 g sugars; 11 g added sugars; 307 IU vitamin A; 6 mg vitamin C; 79 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 249 mg sodium; 209 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 2½
  • Exchanges: 1½ fat, 1 other carbohydrate, 1 starch, ½ fruit