Diane May Nutrition Blog

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What To Do When You Have A Cold Or Flu

January 8th, 2018

With the temperatures dropping and more people staying indoors, colds and flu are on the rise.  There are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting sick, and if you do get sick, things that can help you feel better. First it is important to understand the difference between a cold and the flu. If you have the flu, Tamiflu can be provided-it reduces the duration of the flu, but it does NOT make you any less contagious. Antibiotics do NOT help the common cold or the flu. The symptoms can be very similar, so it is important to get checked by a medical professional as the flu can have significant health implications:

  • Cold: Runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, body and head aches
  • Flu: Fever, body aches, headache, nausea, feverish/chills, cough, sore throat and fatigue

The best prevention for getting sick this season is washing your hands….a lot! here is the proper way to wash your hands:

  • Use clean, warm/hot running water, lather your hands with soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Make sure you scrub all over and between fingers and nails.

What about exercise? It is important to note that as long as the symptoms are from the neck up and no fever, it is safe to exercise (although rest still may be best) but work at 50% capacity, but if the symptoms are below the neck-a cough for example, or there is a fever present, you should not exercise.

So, what are some things you can do if you are feeling sick this season?

  • Log in sleep-rest is the best medicine. It is not a sign of weakness to stay in bed, you will recover quicker if you get that sleep.
  • Stay as well hydrated as you can-clear, warm liquids preferred. Try ginger tea which can also soothe an upset tummy.
  • Make some chicken soup (or better yet, have someone make it for you, or have some handy in the freezer!)-Warm liquids can help loosen mucus, and there is some research to suggest that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties. The noodles can also help with the upset tummy that comes from mucus drainage.
  • Gargle with salt water (1/2 a teaspoon in 8 ounces of WARM water) and use a gentle OTC nasal saline solution: The gargle can help soothe a sore throat and the nasal solution can help promote drainage.
  • There are products such as Sambuccal-(Black Elderberry), Zicam, Manuka honey (put some in your warm tea), that have anti viral properties.  these products can help reduce symptoms and duration, but cannot prevent illness, so only use once you don’t feel well, and don’t use long term. 
  • There are also foods that have anti viral properties: Garlic, sweet potatoes, dark greens, Tumeric and Fatty fish. These foods can help build up your immune system.
  • Get a humidifier in your bedroom.  The moisture will ease your sinuses and loosen congestion.
  • If you have a fever, take Tylenol or NSAID’s-just make sure you do not exceed recommended dosages.

When you feel sick, it is important to make sure you get yourself checked out.  The flu is highly contagious and could put people at risk.  The best thing you can do for yourself and others is to go to your doctor, stay home and rest. The flu is not something you want to share!

Classic Chicken Soup

From: EatingWell Soups Special Issue April 2016

Ingredients8 servings

  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 cups cooked whole-wheat egg noodles
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


  • Active  40 m
  • Ready In  1 h
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add thyme and bay leaf; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth and chicken. Cover, increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Uncover and cook, turning the chicken occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part without touching bone registers 165°F, 20 to 22 minutes. Skim any foam from the surface as the chicken cooks. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred.
  2. Meanwhile, add celery, carrots and peas to the pot; return to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 10 minutes. Stir in the shredded chicken, salt, pepper and noodles and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate, without the noodles and parsley, for up to 3 days. To serve, stir in noodles and reheat, then stir in parsley.


Nutrition information


  • Serving size: 1½ cups
  • Per serving: 291 calories; 8 g fat(2 g sat); 4 g fiber; 28 g carbohydrates; 26 g protein; 123 mcg folate; 63 mg cholesterol; 4 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 6,015 IU vitamin A; 13 mg vitamin C; 61 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 365 mg sodium; 597 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (120% daily value), Folate (31% dv), Vitamin C (22% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 2
  • Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2½ lean meat, 1 fat


Stuffed Sweet Potato with Hummus Dressing

    From: EatingWell.com, October 2017


Ingredients     1 serving

  • ¼ cup hummus (pre made)
  • 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed
  • ¾ cup chopped kale
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons water


  • Prep  15 m
  • Ready In  20 m
  1. Prick sweet potato all over with a fork. Microwave on High until cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, wash kale and drain, allowing water to cling to the leaves. Place in a medium saucepan; cover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice, until wilted. Add beans; add a tablespoon or two of water if the pot is dry. Continue cooking, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is steaming hot, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Split the sweet potato open and top with the kale and bean mixture. Combine hummus and 2 tablespoons water in a small dish. Add additional water as needed to reach desired consistency. Drizzle the hummus dressing over the stuffed sweet potato.


Nutrition information


  • Serving size: 1 stuffed sweet potato
  • Per serving: 472 calories; 7 g fat(1 g sat); 22 g fiber; 85 g carbohydrates; 21 g protein; 202 mcg folate; 0 cholesterol; 20 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 35,810 IU vitamin A; 55 mg vitamin C; 191 mg calcium; 7 mg iron; 489 mg sodium; 1,673 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (716% daily value), Vitamin C (92% dv), Folate (50% dv), Iron (39% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 5½
  • Exchanges: 4 starch, 1½ lean protein, ½ carbohydrate, ½ medium-fat protein



The Benefits Of Cinnamon

December 4th, 2017

Cinnamon is a spice harvested from the inner bark of tropical evergreen trees. There have been many health claims associated with cinnamon recently.  The newest, published in the journal, Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, found that Cinnamaldehyde (CA), a derivative of cinnamon, can aide in thermogenesis, which may lead to future, non pharmaceutical treatments for obesity.  As of now, this research has only been able to be duplicated in rats and has not translated to humans, so we have a way to go before we can recommend cinnamon as an aide to weight loss.

But there has been strong research to support cinnamons role in the prevention of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes by lowering fasting blood glucose levels, total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride as well as increased HDL levels. A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Science Technologyshowed very positive results. 500mg of an aqueous solution of cinnamon, called Cinnulin PF, by Integrity Neutraceuticals was one of the supplements used. It is important to note there has not been consistency with this research in humans and further studies are necessary to show proper dosing. Currently, the dosage recommendations are: 1/2 a teaspoon-1 teaspoon (2-4 grams) or 1-6 grams. Cinnamon in large doses can be toxic, so be careful when taking this supplement. Also, pay attention to quality, as not all cinnamon is created equal. There are two cinnamons, Cassia and Ceylon. Although there is a great debate which is better, they both have not been studied thoroughly enough to determine which is more beneficial. Cinnamon can also negatively impact the liver if you have sensitivity to cinnamon.

It is also important to note that cinnamon can interact with certain medications: antibiotics, blood thinners, heart medications, diabetes medications, as well as other medications.  It is always important to talk to your medical provider before starting any new supplement regiment. 

Cinnamon has the potential to assist with health and wellness if used judiciously and is in most peoples pantry, but more research is necessary. Enjoy in moderation!

Oatmeal-Almond Protein Pancakes

From: EatingWell Magazine, September/October 2015

Ingredients 4 servings

  • ½ cup unflavored protein powder
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ½ cup oat flour (see Tip)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Active: 30 m

Ready In: 45 m

Combine protein powder, almond meal, oat flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a blender; pulse until fully mixed. Add eggs, buttermilk (reduce to ½ cup if using whey protein), oil and vanilla; pulse, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed, until combined. Let stand for 15 minutes. Coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Make about 3 pancakes at a time, using ¼ cup batter per pancake; reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the edges are dry, 1 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining batter, using more cooking spray and reducing the heat as needed. Serve warm.

Oat flour is made from finely milled whole oats. It’s a good source of dietary fiber and whole grains. Try it in place of a portion of other flour in recipes like pancakes, quick breads and muffins. Look for it with other whole-grain flours or near gluten-free flours. Or make your own, grind old-fashioned rolled oats in a blender or food processor until they are the texture of flour.

Nutrition information

Serving size: 2 (3-inch) pancakes

Per serving: 334 calories; 19 g fat(2 g sat); 4 g fiber; 23 g carbohydrates; 20 g protein; 14 mcg folate; 95 mg cholesterol; 6 g sugars; 3 g added sugars; 159 IU vitamin A; 0 mg vitamin C; 261 mg calcium; 10 mg iron; 596 mg sodium; 220 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Iron (56% daily value), Calcium (26% dv)

Carbohydrate Servings: 1½

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1½ lean meat, ½ medium-fat meat, 3 fat