Monday, July 30, 2012

Dietary Sources of Electrolytes

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
FT Faculty
School of Health Sciences

We think of electrolytes as the things that we get when we guzzle a sports drink, but what can we eat to get them?

In nutrition, the term electrolytes, refers to sodium, potassium, and chloride. Electrolytes are important for fluid balance and for allowing nerve impulses to travel throughout the body. Sodium is most commonly found combined with chloride, in what we call table salt. Generally speaking, our bodies are very good at regulating our electrolyte balance and most people need to decrease their dietary sodium and increase their potassium intake. Including even a few processed foods can mean that you will exceed your daily recommendations for sodium. But conversely, most people fall short on meeting potassium needs. With that said, if you are exercising in the heat on a daily basis it is a good idea to take a look at your diet to be sure you are meeting your needs.

The Daily Value for sodium for adults is 2400 mg, about the amount in one teaspoon of table salt. Take a look at your food labels to gauge your intake. You can also check to see if you are a heavy sweater by looking at your workout clothes for some white lines which are actually the salt from your sweat If you aren’t getting enough your body will trigger a salt craving. The Daily Value for potassium is 4000 mg and one banana has 400 mg, which means you need to be diligent about getting your fruits and vegetables every day. Good sources of potassium include fresh fruits and vegetables like spinach, kale, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, dried beans, honeydew, bananas, and cantaloupe.

Make sure you are getting at least the minimum amount of sodium in your diet and to increase your potassium aim for at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hydrating in the Heat

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
FT Faculty
School of Health Sciences

In keeping with the theme of the Olympics, I thought I would write about hydrating for exercise in this summer heat. It is important if you are working out outdoors that you make sure you are properly hydrating. Physiologically speaking exercising in the heat puts the most stress on your body. You are dealing with the heat gained from physical exertion as well as the hot environment. Dehydration results if you don’t take in enough fluids to keep up with your sweat losses. An average person that weighs 110 to 165 pounds can lose 2 to 4% of his/her body weight per hour and losses of just 2% result in decreased performance. Exercising in the heat decreases your efficiency and as you become more dehydrated you rely more heavily on your stored fuel aka stored glycogen. This means you will tire faster due to the buildup of lactic acid (that nasty burning sensation you feel in your muscles).

Make sure you are drinking enough fluids and if your workout is longer than 60 minutes then you will want something that includes electrolytes like a sports drink. Check the label as you want to have at least 100 mg of sodium, 30 mg of potassium, and 14 g of carbohydrate per 8 ounce serving. If you prefer electrolyte chews, they generally have more carbohydrates and less sodium but are still a good choice. Wash them down with at least 8-12 ounces of water. Plain water is not sufficient in the extreme heat so make sure you have a plan and hydrate early and often. In my next post I will talk about dietary sources of electrolytes so until then, don't let the heat derail your exercise routine, just make sure you properly hydrate.

Nutrition of the Olympians

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
FT Faculty
School of Health Sciences
The opening ceremony for the 2012 summer Olympic Games is set for today, Friday, July 27th in London. I can’t wait to watch. What about you? The summer games are my favorite since they include the running and cycling activities and I get to live vicariously through the athletes and imagine myself running as a Team USA marathoner or triathlete. Ah, one can dream right? So you know when it comes to excelling at athletics 3 things must align: genetics, nutrition and training. There’s nothing you can do to change your genetics, so when it comes to making team USA it is all about training and nutrition.
What does an Olympic athlete eat?
One of the first up close and personal looks at the diet of an Olympian came when Michael Phelps hit the swimming scene. You may remember how the media publicized his very high calorie diet that included a lot of good and not so good food choices.  But hey, he was burning a ton of calories and obviously had the training and genetics down, right? Team USA has a whole crew of registered dietitians (RD) who are also certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) who track the intake of and plan the meals of all of the athletes. It is based on science because there is no room for guessing when it comes to the food and hydration necessary to fuel these athletes. Even a miniscule drop in performance can be the difference between winning the gold and finishing third or fourth in an Olympic event.
Specialized Support
There is no one-size fits all approach to nutrition. Each athlete has unique needs influenced by the demands placed on their body of their respective sport. The dietitians must ensure that the athletes eat and drink the right type of fluid and fuel at the right time and in the right amount. They also assess the needs of the athletes to see if any supplements are warranted and appropriate. Supplementation is an area that is under great scrutiny especially at this level, and only supplements that are tested to be free of banned substances are used. There are very few select supplements that are supported through research and legal in the Games, two of which are creatine and caffeine in controlled amounts. There is a published list of prohibited substances that can be found on the World-Anti Doping Website and it includes substances such as anabolic agents, diuretics, and blood doping agents to name a few. They also break it down by sport. The IOC takes a hard stance on supplementation and doesn’t accept inadvertent doping (using a supplement that was contaminated) as an excuse.
From what I have learned from my esteemed colleagues who work with Olympic athletes, the emphasis is ALWAYS on food first and supplements second and only when necessary and where warranted.
As you are watching the games, think about the fine tuning the athletes have done with their nutrition in the hopes of gaining that edge. Then maybe assess your current intake and think about whether or not there are some changes you can make in your eating strategy that could enhance your performance. Food first, supplements second. Game on!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chopped Salad --- So it's a little less like a salad!

by Lisa Beach, Ph.D.

Don't tell anyone this, but I’m not actually a huge fan of salads. I've learned that if a salad has certain qualities (like NOT containing big huge fluffy greens/leaves), I’m happier. I like chopped salads because they’re easier to eat and the smaller pieces of greens make the leaves blend in more with the good stuff.

I use a mezzaluna to chop the greens and I use fancy oil and vinegar from a local source (F. Oliver's), then I put in lots of other stuff with a variety of textures. That’s my ideal salad.
Pre-Chopped Salad

Post-Chopped, with Dressing

7-inch Mezzaluna
I don't use many salad recipes---rather, I just put together a variety of textures and flavors in ways that sound good to me! I've learned that adding fat and protein to my salads not only assists in fat soluble nutrient absorption (Vitamins A, D, E, K), but it also helps to make the salad a satisfying meal!

Here’s what is in the salad pictured:
Spring mix, about 4 cups chopped and therefore shrunk to about 1 1/2 cups
Goji berries (just a few)
Crushed pecans
Herbs de Provence olive oil
Apricot balsamic vinegar
Mix, chop, eat! 
Do you enjoy salads? Have you ever used a mezzaluna?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Flowers as Food Part III: Recipes

By Mary Oleksowicz, MSTOM , L.Ac

I hope my last two installments have you yearning for more ways to incorporate edible flowers in to your daily diet. As you become more adventurous, here are just two simple recipes that you can use to incorporate flowers into your everyday food fare.  Dazzle your guests at your next gathering!

Stuffed  Nasturtiums

  • 16 Nasturtiums 
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened ( whipped works lovely !)
  • 1 garlic clove or garlic chive, minced fine
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh chives  (you may use chive blossoms, chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon basil ( or lemon zest)
  • salt and pepper (optional)


Make sure flowers are clean and dry. Pick as close to serving time as possible, but definitely the same day.  Pick from slightly below the base of the flower. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Mix cream cheese thoroughly with herbs. Season to taste. Remove the stamen ( middle) of the flower Place 1 or 2 teaspoons of mixture (depending on size of flower) in center of flower. Pull petals upwards to cover the cheese as much as possible. Press lightly into cheese to stick. This makes 4 servings, 4 stuffed flowers per person

Variations we have used include substituting cream cheese for ricotta with fresh ground pepper corn medley or homemade strawberry cream cheese topped with fresh ground black pepper.

Watermelon Rose Salad

I find that this salad is an interesting end to a bbq or hot day while still incorporating the traditional watermelon ! Feel free to start with smaller amounts of rosewater and then increase until you reach your desired flavor !

4 cups of watermelon “balls” (Made with a melon baller)

4-5 medjool dates, pitted and cut into small pieces

  3-4 tablespoons pistachio kernels(I prefer salted for contrast but unsalted is fine)

1/4-1 teaspoon  food grade rosewater, ( to taste)
3 medium sized roses rinsed (dip in a bowl of cool, clean water and “swoosh”), stamens removed and removed from their base (white part is bitter)

Place watermelon in bowl and sprinkle rosewater. Add dates and pistachios in a bowl, toss gently together. Sprinkle with rosewater, taste and adjust to taste. Add rose petals. Serve immediately in pretty desert bowls!

Remember that incorporating flowers can be as simple as adding an edible to your salad (especially if your salad include complementing fruit flavors!)
Bon Appetit!
Monday, July 16, 2012

Flowers as Food Part II: Presentation ideas

By Mary Oleksowicz, MSTOM , L. Ac

I hope my last post piqued your interest and had you investigating the edibles in your front yard. How many did you find?  Upon inspection, I realized I currently have more than 17 types of edible flowers in my small space alone. This number does not include herbs!  A mentioned in my previous  post , the use of flowers in current trends is one of novelty . I thought I would provide several “starter“ ideas , most centering around food presentation that may begin your  utilization of flowers as food.
Some of the edibles from my flower garden!
Gladiolas- Have a tart taste and while edible are best used for presentation purposes. Pick individual flowers  early in the morning . Wash the flowers gently, pat them dry and place into a moistened plastic bag with a little air space left in it. Put the bag into the fridge being sure not to crush them !  Remove the flowers a few minutes before you need them and dip into ice-cold water to freshen them. Remove the stamens before filling the flowers with your favorite salsa or dip ! I love presenting peach or mango based salsa in a bright  red gladiola !
Gladiola "bowl" stuffed with peach mango salsa

Dandelions- You can make several wonderful uses of this common "pest" .When serving a rice dish, use  cleaned dandelion petals like confetti over the rice. Please be cautious if you are allergic!

Carnations (Dianthus) - are surprisingly sweet one the bitter white bas of the flower is removed.  Said to have a clove or nutmeg like flavor they can be sprinkled over rice or salad. An interesting bit of trivia, carnation petals are one of secret ingredients used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur!

Nasturtiums- my personal favorite! The leaves of this flower are spicy and watercress like. They come in a variety of colors and if the flowers are “deadheaded” they can produce all season long. I have found that the flowers can be stuffed with flavored cream cheese or ricotta. They can also be used to present guacamole. Just be sure to remove the stamen of the flower.   These flowers are a lovely substitute for the harvesting of zucchini blossoms which can limit the production of zucchinis. The leaves can also be used in a fashion similar to grape leaves as well. Recipes are to follow in my next installment!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flowers as Food Part 1 : Its More than Just Sunflowers !

By Mary Oleksowicz , MSTOM , L. Ac

As my gardening hobby continues to develop, I realized that I would like to get the “most bang for my buck“   from the landscaping that I am applying to my front yard. If I am spending just as much time ( if not more)  cultivating flowers as I am growing vegetables, I would love for them to provide additional benefits. The use of flowers as an edible garnish is an increasing trend among chefs and “foodies” in the NYC area. Despite the trend, the use of flowers as food can be found in many ancient cultures, in fact, the dandelion is a bitter referred to many times throughout the Old Testament. Many plants that are mainstays of the traditional flower garden can be used in everyday fare.

While flowers may be delicate and pretty, eating inedible parts or plants can have detrimental side effects. NOT EVERY FLOWER IS EDIBLE. You must verify the species of the flower and edible portions with outside resources. If you are not sure, DO NOT EAT IT !!  Additionally, the pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic and may cause reactions in sensitive individuals. Sufferers of asthma, ragweed, and hayfever should not consume composite flowers, and may have extreme allergic reactions. Please be certain to verify the flower type before consumption  !

In addition to allergy awareness regarding flowers, there are several other tips that can be provided regarding the use of edible flowers.

1. Be sure of the plant you are harvesting. Be certain of which parts are or are not edible.  Verify the species with reliable sources.

2. Make certain the flowers are harvested from a pesticide free zone. If you are harvesting from your own garden this determination should be easy. AVOID roadside harvesting, as many areas apply herbicides and pesticides.

3. Begin using flowers in small quantities. Some people may have a hard time initially digesting flowers.

4. Use additional spices sparingly, as strong flavors will mask the taste of the flowers. In general, garlic and onion usage should be minimized.

 I hope this discussion begins you foraging around your own garden. You may be surprised how many edibles you have in your front yard. Next time, we will discuss use of these edible flowers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cool ideas: Grow your own Veggies

Again I can speak from personal experience – there is nothing better than growing and picking your own veggies. It’s easy! Anyone can do it - even if one does not have a yard. Here’s a sweet and short video demonstrating how to grow a salad in a container:

 For many more gardening tips, try this link:

Nancy Silva, ND
Health Science Faculty

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cool ideas: Chickens!

I’m speaking from experience on this one. If you like eggs, backyard chickens are great. They are easy to care for, amusing, cute, and fun to listen to. But the best part - an abundance of fresh eggs! Personally and professionally, I love eggs. They are an excellent protein source and they are high in nutrients.

Check out this video for some easy steps for raising chickens:

 For many more details (how to build a coop, etc), try this link:
Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cool ideas: Time Banks

Hi Everyone,

This week I’d like to share some cool ideas. First one up: Time Banks.

 It is inspiring to me how an economic crisis can bring out much cooperation and creativeness. Time Banks are essentially a group of people sharing/exchanging services without using money. Members provide work that they are skilled at doing. This could be anything such as health services, cooking, house or car repair, babysitting, etc. In exchange for their time, members earn time credits. These credits can be spent by using services from any other Time Bank member.

Click on the Youtube video below to see an example of a Time Bank in Vermont:

Currently, there are about 400 Time Banks spread across the USA. Click on this national link to learn more, find one in your area, or create one!

Nancy Silva, ND
Health Science Faculty

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