Saturday, October 31, 2015

Acorn Squash with Kale and Sausage

Acorn Squash with Kale and Sausage
     As the days get cooler and darkness falls early, I love to change my recipes for the season.  Soups and crockpot delights are some of my favorites.  Another recipe I would like to share is acorn squash with kale and sausage. 

     This recipe is packed with healthy vegetables.  Kale has 33 calories per one cup, 3 grams of protein, 25 grams of fiber, vitamins A, B, C, and K, plus minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc. Leek has only 50 calories per 89 grams, 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of carbohydrates and vitamins A and C.  Acorn Squash has 82 calories per one cup mashed, 1.6 grams of protein, 2.8 grams of fiber, Vitamin A, B-6, C, calcium, and magnesium.

§  2 medium acorn squash, halved down the middle, seeds removed
§  1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
§  1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
§  Olive oil cooking spray
§  3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
§  8 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
§  1 large leek, white and light-green parts only, halved and sliced
§  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
§  4 cups tightly packed torn kale
§  1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
§  1/4 cup chopped walnuts
§  2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan
§  2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs


     Heat oven to 375°. Cut off the round side of each squash half to create a stable base. Add salt and pepper, then spray a pan with cooking spray. Place squash skin side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil; bake until golden and tender which is about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; flip squash and set aside. Heat broiler. In a large nonstick heat 1-teaspoon oil then add sausage, cook, then transfer to a bowl. To the same skillet, add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and leek; cook until leek is soft, 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, 30 seconds. Add kale and toss; add broth. Cover and cook until kale is tender, 5 minutes; stir in sausage. Divide kale-sausage filling among squash. In a bowl, combine walnuts, the parmesan and panko; sprinkle evenly over squash bowls and coat with cooking spray. Broil until panko is golden, 2 minutes.

Per serving: 376 calories, 17 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 47 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 17 g protein (Perri, 2013)

This is a true comfort food dinner for me!


Perri, L. (2013, November 1). Acorn Squash with Kale and Sausage. Retrieved October 28, 2015, from

By Angela Ask MPS

Monday, October 26, 2015

Anti-inflammatory guidelines

By Paz Etcheverry, Ph.D.

In my previous blog, I promised that I was going to share with you some simple guidelines for following an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. Here it is. 

To an inflammation-free life, my dear blog readers!

1) Consume adequate omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Eat two servings (4 ounces or 113 g each) of fatty fish per week OR supplement with 1–4 g of combined EPA+DHA daily. These will be listed on the supplement facts label.
  • Reduce intake of omega-6 fatty acids to keep ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the range of 2:1 to 4:1.
2) Choose healthy fats.
  • Replace vegetable oils, trans-fats, or butter with extra-virgin olive oil.
3) Increase vegetable and fruit intake (especially vegetables).
  • Consume 5–9 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, with more than half as vegetables.
  • Color your diet! Deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher amounts of protective phytochemicals.
  • Use the plate method: the biggest portion (half the plate) is where the vegetables go (excluding potatoes)
4) Choose whole grain carbohydrates and limit the portion sizes.
  • Choose carbohydrates that are whole grain and aim for a total of 25 g of fiber per day.
  • Rx: Double your vegetable intake, and half your intake of refined carbohydrates (anything with flour and/or sugar)!
5) Get your protein from plant sources such as legumes, nuts, and seeds, and/or choose lean, natural animal sources of protein in moderate amounts.

6) Spice it up! Include anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as garlic, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, oregano, cumin, and cayenne in your diet.

7) Eat mindfully.
  • Be mindful of your food portions. Quality AND quantity matter. Regardless of how healthy your food choices are, excess calories from any source can increase inflammation and obesity.
  • Savor your food.
8) Adopt the Okinawan philosophy of “hara hachi bu”- stopping when nearly 8/10 full and paying attention to your hunger and satiety signals. Remember to focus on the whole diet pattern, not just components. Choose food that is closest to its natural form (i.e., less processed). Best dietary advice in seven words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

9) Adopt an anti-inflammatory LIFESTYLE.
  • Incorporate regular exercise that you enjoy into your life.
  • Keep weight under control. It is important to prevent and reduce obesity, especially abdominal obesity, as obesity itself sets up chronic inflammation in the body. Maintain a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.
  • Be aware of and find healthy ways to reduce stress
10) Enjoy 1–2 ounces (28–56 g) of dark chocolate (at least 70%) as an occasional treat!


Rakel D. Integrative Medicine, 3rd Edition (2012). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Elsevier Saunders.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Inflammation 101

By Paz Etcheverry, Ph.D.

When I enter the words “anti-inflammatory diets” in, which is by far my most favorite website in the whole wide World (I hope Mr. Jeff Bezos is reading this blog so that I can get a free bike this Christmas), the site spits out 1,408 results, mostly books.

Hmm…this makes me wonder, is inflammation that evil? Do we need to quench it with nutritional therapies and interventions? Will Mr. Jeff Bezos let me choose the color of my bike?

Well, like everything in life, health is indeed about being in a state of equilibrium or balance. When in control, inflammation is a normal and healthy response of our immune system. The classic signs of inflammation include redness, heat, swelling, and, of course, pain. So when you cut yourself (ouch!) peeling the carrots for the rosemary pork roast (yum!) and later on you notice that your cut is visibly red and painfully swollen, you need to thank your busy immune cells for mounting an inflammatory reaction so that your skin can heal properly and effectively. This is normal and expected. This is your body’s protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation.

The problem arises when inflammation is out of whack, out of control. In chronic inflammation, the immune cells are constantly reactive and ultimately begin to attack our body cells. That is correct. For reasons we do not fully understand yet, the immune cells begin to view our own body cells as antigens, pathogens, and invaders! As a result, our immune cells destroy our own precious cells. Symptoms of chronic inflammation include fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite, and muscle stiffness. Chronic inflammation, which is indeed a long term inflammatory response as opposed to acute inflammation, can potentially lead to certain diseases and conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease), atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, and type 1 diabetes, among others.

In my upcoming blog, I will be sharing with you some features of an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Are you in pain? Please read this before taking an analgesic

By Paz Etcheverry, Ph.D.

We have known, for quite some time, that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), commonly used to treat joint and muscle aches and pain, are not kind to our stomach cells. These drugs increase the risk of gastric ulcers and bleeding. These, my friends, are the mild effects. What is becoming more evident within the medical and scientific communities is that the ingestion of NSAIDs is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events (e.g., heart attack and stroke), especially in patients who take them on a daily basis.

In case you are wondering, NSAIDs include

  • Aspirin (Aspirin is a brand name; the chemical is called acetylsalicylic acid)
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Dexdetoprofen (Keral)
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR)
  • Diflunisal (Dolobid)
  • Etodolac (Lodine, Lodine XL)
  • Etoricoxib (Algix)
  • Fenoprofen (Fenopron, Nalfron)
  • Firocoxib (Equioxx, Previcox)
  • Flurbiprofen (Urbifen, Ansaid, Flurwood, Froben)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Brufen, Motrin, Nurofen, Medipren, Nuprin)
  • Indomethacin (Indocin, Indocin SR, Indocin IV)
  • Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis, Oruvail, Ketoflam)
  • Ketorolac (Toradol, Sprix, Toradol IV/IM, Toradol IM)
  • Licofelone (under development)
  • Lornoxicam (Xefo)
  • Loxoprofen (Loxonin, Loxomac, Oxeno)
  • Lumiracoxib (Prexige)
  • Meclofenamic acid (Meclomen)
  • Mefenamic acid (Ponstel)
  • Meloxicam (Movalis, Melox, Recoxa, Mobic)
  • Nabumetone (Relafen)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Midol Extended Relief, Naprosyn, Naprelan)
  • Nimesulide (Sulide, Nimalox, Mesulid)
  • Oxaporozin (Daypro, Dayrun, Duraprox)
  • Parecoxib (Dynastat)
  • Piroxicam (Feldene)
  • Rofecoxib (Vioxx, Ceoxx, Ceeoxx)
  • Salsalate (Mono-Gesic, Salflex, Disalcid, Salsitab)
  • Sulindac (Clinoril)
  • Tenoxicam (Mobiflex)
  • Tolfenamic acid (Clotam Rapid, Tufnil)
  • Valdecoxib (Bextra)

Weight loss, mild physical activity, and anti-inflammatory diets rich in omega 3 fatty acids and low in omega 6 fatty acids may all be beneficial in the treatment of chronic joint and muscle pain. Additionally, topical treatments containing NSAIDs, e.g., gels, ointments, creams, and patches, may relieve pain without many of the adverse effects observed with pills. What about acetaminophen (Tylenol)? Acetaminophen, while not a member of the NSAID family, has its risks. The regular consumption of Tylenol increases the risk of liver damage.


NSAIDs List (n.d.) Retrieved from

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Taking the Hill at 15 Months!

Byline:      One Family's Approach to the War on
                  Childhood Obesity
Author:      Dorette Nysewander, EdD, “DrD”

If you are a sports enthusiast, love to be outdoors, or a parent, this picture has to give you an awe moment! Taking the hill at 15 months is no problem for the son of Gus Rodriguez, student enrolled in Kaplan’s Health and Wellness degree! Having served in the military Gus and his family are extremely active and enjoy a healthy work/life balance. Gus believes in taking his son with him no matter the activity. Well this day was all about snowboarding and was this tot eagerly ready for the challenge! 

Gus believes in good preparation for life, which involves healthy eating, fitness conditioning, challenging yourself and resting. You would think at 15 months one would be just learning to walk, much less trying to do pushing ups, climbing on jungle gyms and learning to snowboard. While not overbearing, Gus stated “There are too many kids sedentary and obese. My wife and I are determined to have our children experience opportunities for healthier options in life”.

In addition to a family’s pediatrician there are evidence-based resources in which families can depend. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been putting research into “Family’s First” for many years now. Their belief is that a newborn’s environment can shape a child’s future and health for life. The RWJ Foundation has made a 500 million dollar contribution over the next 10 years to support healthy weights for all children (RWJF, 2015).   

The Foundation has made commentary on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee advocating for healthier environments and behaviors with nutrition and physical activity. This report is prepared and submitted to the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA). The Advisory Report is not the Dietary Guidelines policy or a draft of the policy. HHS and USDA will jointly release the 2015 Dietary Guidelines later this year.
Another evidence-based resource for healthy families is the Nemours Clinic. Their campaign “Live 5-2-1-Almost None” includes: Five or more fruits and vegetables, Two hours or less of screen time, One hour of physical activity, Almost none of items such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks that are not 100% fruit juice. This and other healthy resources are available to families for all aspects of childhood care.

The last recommended resource is the Early Head Start. This is a national program designed to help children and families with maintaining a secure environment, health care, early learning and school readiness.

Gus is currently retired from the U.S. Army, having served 22 years a Health Care Specialist, his career includes serving 5 deployments to Bosnia, Intrinsic action 97 and 3 tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Gus’ last assignment before he retired from the US Army was serving as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the White House Medical Unit responsible for routine and emergent care for the President of the United States, Vice President, their families, Cabinet members, Staff, Secret Service and over 500,000 visitors to the White House. His goal after graduation is to open a traveling medicine clinic specializing in lab draws, physicals and quality advice for people working or visiting other countries. With changes in technology and research happening so quickly learning current developments in wellness will make for a well-rounded professional especially when giving out advice.

To Gus and the Rodriquez family thank you for your service and sharing of your family’s approach to health and well-being.
                                                                                                                     — DrD, October 2016

Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center [ECLKC]. (2015). Early head start. Retrieved from
Nemours Clinic. (2015). Live 4-2-1-almost none. Retrieved from
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion [ODPHP] (2015).  2015 dietary guidelines. Retrieved from
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation [RWJF]. (2015). Childhood obesity. Retrieved from

Holiday Treats—Let’s Eat!

Byline:  Some of our Family Favorites
Author: Dorette Nysewander, EdD, “DrD”

Holiday time, one is which our family gathers in the kitchen and shares favorite recipes with no worry about calories! For a least a couple of meals, we relish in the thought of making recipes rich in satiety! While balance is still important recipes provided include a tasty sage sausage dressing, spinach casserole and a seven layer cookie to wet the palate! We have made our suggestions however feel free to change according to what you like. You might find something similar online as well.
Remember to get outside for a healthy walk after downing such delectable delights! Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season!

Sage Sausage Dressing
2 bags of Pepperidge Farm Herb
1 16 oz. Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 stick butter
1 can chicken broth or juice from cooked turkey neck

In large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In pan melt butter, sauté onion and celery. Add to dry ingredients. Pour over it 1/2 can of broth and mix well. Dressing needs to be very moist so add more if necessary. Pour into well-greased large baking dish 9 x 13. Dot with extra butter and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until edges and top are well browned. Goes great with the ham and/or turkey you have just roasted, or just by itself!

Spinach Casserole
4 – Bags of spinach
2 – 16 oz. logs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
2 – 6 oz. cans of French Fried Onion Rings
2 – 8 oz. cans of Campbell’s Cream of Broccoli Condensed Soup

Steam the spinach. Drain it. Then add the cans of broccoli soup with the softened logs of cream cheese. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Cook at 375 degrees until top is golden brown 40-45 minutes.

7 Layer Cookies
1 can Borden Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 1/3 cups of flaky coconut
1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate Nestle Morsels
1 cup bag of butterscotch Nestle Morsels
1 16 oz. bag of chopped walnuts

Melt the butter in a 9 x 13 baking pan. Pour the Graham Cracker Crumbs in the base of the pan. Pat down to build a solid base for your cookies. Add the third layer of coconut to give the cookie consistency. Add the fourth layer of butterscotch morsels. Can we say chocolate anyone—with the fifth layer being the Nestle chocolate morsels. The next layer is chopped walnuts. Make sure your ingredients are evenly spaced. The final layer is to add the Borden’s condensed milk. Place in the oven at 350 degrees until golden brown approximately 25-30 minutes. Feel free to change the ingredients to suit your liking, e.g., nuts, morsels.

DrD – October 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kaplan Health & Wellness Degrees Matter!

Byline: The Emperor of all Maladies
Author: Dorette Nysewander, EdD, “DrD”

October is widely known for breast cancer awareness month, right! Have you had a friend, colleague or family member affected by this disease? Are you wearing your pink ribbon? Even the National Football League shows support of breast cancer awareness month by wearing their strength in pink! Many individuals are aware of the campaign but do we really know cancer?

As a part of our curriculums Kaplan Health & Wellness Professors present the teachings on cancer: awareness, prevention, treatment as well as share with students the successes of this disease through prevention, science, technology and medicine. What we all have discovered is many of our teachings reside in the practice and knowledge from thousands of years ago.

Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia hosted a well-known author Siddhartha Mukherjee the Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his work, The Emperor of all Maladies, a biography of cancer. This is a must read! To understand the present, where we are in the war on cancer today is to understand its history. What happened, who was effected, how researchers determined carcinogens, treatment approaches and most important what was learned!

After having the opportunity to read his book and hear Dr. Mukherjee’s presentation I was able to put into context the brilliancy of his work. In an attempt to paraphrase his writing the next few lines provides all of us the opportunity to understand breast cancer and cancer treatments from 500 B.C. to current day and for the future. He describes for us Atossa, the Persian Queen traveling through time and what she might have experienced in breast cancer care over four thousand years. Atossa:

×        In 500 B. C. self-prescribes the most primitive form of mastectomy performed by her Greek slave;

×        Two hundred years later, Hippocrates would identify her tumor as a karkinos—today carcinogens;

×        In AD 168, Galen would hypothesizes her condition—a universal cause, black bile trapped as a tumor;

×        Might have been offered procedures by Medieval surgeons coupled with frog’s blood, lead plates, goat dung, holy water, crab paste and caustic chemicals;

×        In 1778, at the John Hunter’s clinic in London, could have been assigned with a stage for her cancer with a recommended operation;

×        By the nineteenth century 1890 at the Halsted’s Baltimore clinic, would have received a radical mastectomy—the boldest and most definitive therapy thus far;

×        By the early twentieth century would have radiation oncologists try to obliterate the tumor locally using x-rays;

×        In the 1950s, would receive cancer treatments of a simple mastectomy followed by radiation;

×        By 1970s, would have surgery followed by chemotherapy to diminish the chance of a relapse; and if the tumor tested positive for an estrogen receptor, given tamoxifen to further prevent relapse;

×        In 1986; should it be discovered that her tumor was Her-2 amplified in addition to the treatments of the last 20 years she would be given Herceptin;

Ø  Though clinical trials do not always provide a direct comparison for medical advancements to date, life expectancy for Atossa could probably be between 17-30 years;

×        In the mid-1990s, would be tested for mutations of BRAC-1 or BRAC-2; her genome would be sequenced and if mutations were found this would lead to further female family members being tested; her daughters would receive treatment for the diagnosis and offered intensive screening, bi-lateral mastectomy or tamoxifen to prevent the development of invasive breast cancer;

×        By 2050, would be expected to arrive at her physician’s office with a thumb drive containing the entire sequence of her cancer’s genome identifying every mutation for each gene! Amazing…kind of star wars medicine, huh?…at which time the fight for life becomes a warfare of surgery, with targeted therapies switching up to combat identified cancer mutations.

Well okay! So, one would think that we are well on our way to being able to take care of breast cancer through prevention, treatment and the c-word, cure! It certainly is the thinking, but unfortunately we have not won the war as of yet. Here’s why?

Scientists through the genome project have sequenced 23,000 genes making it possible in research to document genetic changes relative to these normal genes. During Dr. Mukherjee’s presentation you gained a clear understanding that even though five individuals are diagnosed with the same cancer, their bodies’ respond with different mutations being expressed as hills and mountains [or levels of potency]. This leads us to better understand that cancer treatments need to become more personalized to the patient’s genome.

Today many cancer clinical trials are failing quicker with fewer patients in hopes of understanding how these mutations will react to medical therapies. In addition surgical treatments are becoming less invasive with faster healing rates. While the cancer war rages on in medicine and research, what can we all do?
Prevention and awareness! Understand your families’ genome history, stay current with the evidence-based recommendations, practice daily healthy lifestyle choices, and participate in the prevention of disease through appropriate screening and genetic tests.

They say that laughter is the best medicine! Listen the short interview by Colbert and Dr. Mukherjee. Enjoy!

To the future of health and wellness! More importantly to aspiring Kaplan students who will continue to make advancements in science and care—DrD, October 2016
Colbert Report. (2011). Emperor of all maladies: A biography of cancer. Retrieved from
Inova Hospital. (2015). Inova summit: Make it personal. Retrieved from
Monday, October 12, 2015

My Quest to Identify the Future of Food

By: Jeanette Andrade, PhD, RDN/LDN

In my last blog I discussed about the future of food from the viewpoint of an 8-year old. After my intriguing discussion with my daughter, I went on a quest to identify what the future of our food will be, so I read a book titled, “The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food” by Josh Schonwald who is a journalist. He went on a “food” quest to understand what the future of food will hold as we need to feed 9.6 billion people by 2050. At first I was a little leery about reading a book written by a journalist instead of a food scientist, technologist, chef, or someone with a formal education in food, but his introduction grabbed me. 
He writes,

“The third important thing to know about this investigation: It’s pro-agricultural biotechnology…..This book was supposed to be neutral, friendly, glib, Switzerland-like – steering clear of thorny issues that could alienate 80 percent of the foodie population. And for about six months, it was. I looked for tasty food you might find in Whole Foods in 2035, not, say, what’s needed to feed the Sudan. But over the course of this journey, my approach and views did change.” (Schonwald, 2012, p. 17).

There are many parts in this book that are interesting such as his discussion about the bagged salad movement, aqua farming, and the uprising demand for ethnic cuisine. But the part that interested me the most was the techniques and ways people are building their own micro-farms within cities and other urban areas. The best example he provided was downtown Detroit where you can find gardens growing in demolished buildings or in alleys. Many of these gardens are for the entire community, thus anyone can partake in growing and eating crops. This is certainly not a new concept, community gardening, but I have seen more community gardens pop up around my neighborhood within the past 5 years. It makes me quite proud to see people planting seeds or caring for the garden. It’s even fun to see children outside as they learn to appreciate where their food is really coming from. Who knows what will be the future of food, but maybe in the future our food will be coming more from community farms…

Schonwald, J. (2012). The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food. Harper Collins.

About Me

Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
View my complete profile