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Robinsbite: January 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get a Popchip

This story falls under the category "you don't ask, you don't get", a saying made famous by my husband's Bubbie. (that's Grandmother to those of you not in the know). Basically, it you want something, you go after it because you have nothing to lose. What's the best thing that can happen? You get what you want.

Case in point. In the fall of 2007, I was reading one of the city editions of Daily Candy. Featured on the site were a new kind of chip that sounded too good to be true. They were called popchips-and they weren't fried, weren't baked and were made with all natural ingredients like potatoes and corn. Here's the kicker-they were popped-like popcorn-and that is how they became a chip. A little heat and a little pressure plus some added all natural seasonings and you've got a it-a healthier version of a chip.

So I'm reading this with great interest and start looking for it in the stores in Dallas. To my disappointment, I realize I can only find them online at and would have to order them to feed my need. I decided to go to their website and email the to inquire about when these babies were coming to Dallas. Lo and behold, I received an email from the CEO and Founder of popchips, Keith Belling--the very next day. He told me how they were working on getting the chips into the Dallas Ft. Worth market-among many others and we shared a nice email rapport back and forth for a a few months. I also immediately received a shipper of popchips which allowed me to taste each one. (to this day, BBQ are my favorite).

Once we realized we were on the same page, I was on the phone with Keith talking to him about how important it was for dietitians to learn about this product. He wholeheartedly agreed. Not only is the nutritional profile terrific, they fit into a diabetic meal plan perfectly. He and the company are genuinely concerned about the health of Americans and we all know that nobody is going to stop eating chips. So why not give folks a healthier choice?

Highlights include:
  • approx 20 chips per 1 ounce service
  • 120 calories for those 20 chips
  • 4 grams of fat-none saturated or trans
  • 0 grams of cholesterol
  • popchips are an all-natural line of potato popped chips with all the flavor and less than half the fat of fried chips.
  • popchips come in seven taste-bud popping flavors, including original, barbeque (MY PERSONAL FAVORITE, as you know), salt & pepper, sea salt & vinegar and parmesan garlic, and the newest – sour cream & onion and cheddar.
  • popchips also come in a single-serve pack that includes a whopping 15 chips per bag, and only 100 calories and less than 3.5 grams of fat, so it really is okay to eat the whole bag. Compare that with a typical serving of fried chips (or those teeny 100-calorie packs) and your mouth will really drop.
Check out the website, see where you can download a free coupon and get to the store. This will change you into a popchips convert! When I felt like I had that chip craving, my go to was Cool Ranch Doritos. No more! Now it's my favorite BBQ popchips!

Disclaimer: I have the awesome opportunity to work with these great people and this great chip. It's my pleasure to blog about them!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's Never Too Early to Learn About the Benefits of Fish

At the tender age of 4 months, young Benjamin is already learning about the benefits of consuming fish. Tagging along with his Mom to the grocery store has quickly become one of his favorite activities. He is being educated daily on the benefits of eating well. Where better to begin than at the grocery-specifically the seafood counter?

You see, Ben's mom consumed lots and lots of Omega-3 fatty acids when he was in the womb. Research has suggests that increasing intake of dietary omega-3 fatty acids may have a number of health benefits. And babies whose diets include an abundance of essential fats seem to have an edge in terms of early development. Now new research shows that the same is true for infants born to mothers whose diets contain plenty of this essential fatty acid.

From the website:

Benefits for Baby

Benefits for Mom

  • May help prevent and manage post-partum depression.
    Low levels of omega-3s are associated with low levels of the brain chemical, serotonin. And low levels of serotonin are linked to depression.
    Read "Eat Fish, Beat Post-Partum Blues"
  • Helps manage optimal weight gain.
    Choose fish prepared healthfully - for example baked, broiled, grilled, microwaved or steamed.
  • Protects heart health.
    Read "Eat Fish, Your Heart Will Love You"

Types of Fish to Focus On

For Women Who Are or May Become Pregnant, Breast feeding Women, and Young Children

  • Eat a variety of 12 ounces, or 2-4 meals, cooked seafood each week. If you like, up to six ounces can be albacore tuna. Avoid Shark, King Mackerel, Tile fish, and Swordfish.
  • All fish contain traces of mercury, but these fish - which most American's already don't eat - should be avoided as they tend to have higher levels.
    Read "What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish"
Blog-about-seafood is a fun blog written by Registered Dietitian Jennifer McGuire with the National Fisheries Institute. I encourage you to take a look at her mouth watering photos as she blogs about her life consuming seafood!

FYI, young Benjamin chose tilapia that evening for dinner for his parents. He knows his parents are trying to increase their fish consumption to twice a week for health purposes. He also knows that his mom has found a great recipe here for those tilapia fillets. They are definately in the rotation now and he knows he'll be eating it soon enough!

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Friday, January 8, 2010

A Spaghetti Squash Begs "Don't Judge Me Until You've Tried Me"

I see you walk by me. I see you looking at some of my cousins-acorn and butternut. Have you ever noticed how much more space acorn and butternut get on the produce floor? A foot? 2 feet? 5 bushel baskets full? What do I get? 1/2 a foot? Maybe 1 bushel basket with most of the bottom filled with...filler?

Why do you pass me by?
I know, I know-I'm hard to cut. I look expensive because I'm a bit on the hefty side. You don't know what do to with me. I promise I am as tasty as the others not to mention just as nutritious if not more than the cousins. I'm easy to prepare and I'm a huge hit with the kids-not only because of my name, but because of how I got it.

Let me let you in on a few secrets-I promise to make myself more appealing to you!

Microwave me for 5 minutes before you try to slice me open. Softening my skin helps a lot! Or, have the produce guy at the store cut it for you before you head home. I know you are thinking "they'll never do that!". Just remember, if you don't ask, you don't get.

The latter part of the year is when my pricing is at its best. This is because its my harvest time and my peeps and I are plentiful. Look around, I'm still at great prices at your local grocery store or Farmer's Market!

The VERY easiest thing to do with me is split me in half length wise, scoop out my seeds and put 1/2 of me in a shallow bowl with about 1 inch of water. Cover me with plastic wrap and microwave for about 5-10 minutes depending on how thick I am. You may have to play the start and stop game with your microwave until you can tell if my innards are soft enough to be pulled out with a fork. Caution: My skin will be hot and stay hot for a long time, so use a towel when handling me after I cook. Holding me at the top, use a fork to scrape out my strands of yummy goodness. You can scrape all the way down to the bottom skin--depending on the size of me, you could get as much as 3-4 cups! You'll see that my strands look quite similar to that of spaghetti, although much yellower, lighter and much more nutritious! Kids think I look like hair!
Once you've got me in the bowl, pour marinara over me (This blogger likes to use Paul Newman's Marinara) and then sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of Parmesan. Pop back into the microwave and cook until the sauce is warm and the cheese is melted. There you go-one easy, delicious, fiber filling vegetarian dish fit for any age!

Once you try this, check back with me and let me know how you did or what you did differently. Please, don't pass me by when you see me in the store! I beg of you!

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Starting your New Year's Resolution with A Fruit, A Nut and A Cheese, Oh My!

Here we go again, folks. The resolution solution. Do you have one this year?

When people tell me that they are yet again joining a gym-only to stop going in mid February (if not sooner), my suggestion is always to be to save that money from the gym membership and put it towards something new and exciting that will keep you exercising. How about tennis lessons? What about learning how to ski? Registration to road runs/races? Splitting the fee for a personal trainer? Boot Camp? The list goes on and on. Set yourself up for success-not failure.

Another one of those resolutions is "I'm going to eat more fruits and vegetables everyday." When I ask how, the response is "salad". When deconstructing the salad after the frustration people felt by not seeing progress, we'd peel back the layers: minimal greens, few antioxidant packed veggies, zero protein, tons of cheese, lots of croutons, fried and crunchy bacon bits and enough salad dressing (usually a creamy one like Ranch) to cover the top of the salad so much so that you couldn't see the food underneath!!! Not to mention, this is the same salad they are eating day in and day out! BORING!

I fully support your commitment to incorporate more salads into your menus. The can be full of fiber, rich in antioxidants, loaded with vitamins and minerals not to mention they can taste GREAT and be completely satisfying. It's all in the way we construct it!

Here we go:

1. Start with a large base of dark salad greens. The deeper the color green, the better. Think spinach, kale, cabbages, even mixed greens, etc.

2. Load up on your favorite veggies--tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, get the drill. Remember, they don't even have to be raw! Try some of last nights cooked carrots or the grilled onions from your left over fajitas.

3. Add lean protein. Think lean meats, low fat deli meats, canned (and rinsed) beans-black, garbanzo, kidney-anything! Tuna, canned salmon, leftover grilled chicken from the night before or crumble your turkey taco meat on top!

4. When you think dressing, think oil and vinegar based dressings. Remember that oil is 100% fat calories, so be sure to measure out what you want to use. Stay away from most creamy based dressings. If you are like me, your not a fan of the low fat or fat free dressings. Remember it only take a little bit of dressing to go a long way. Also consider lemon and lime juice, salsas and flavored vinegars. The normal ratio for a vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Change it up and do less oil, more vinegar!

5. Now for the fun stuff. I love to add fruits, nuts and cheeses to make my salads complete meals. As with everything, its the moderation that counts. I unearthed this "Off the Chart" Salad Combination photo copy last week. I am sorry to say that I have no idea where it came from, but I've had it for years and lists beautiful combinations.

Toasting the nuts brings out an aroma you won't believe. Keep your measuring spoons handy so that you don't over do on the nuts. While healthy and good for you, it's easy to go overboard. Some of the cheeses listed below are high in fat and calories so remember that just a little bit of these highly flavorful cheese go a long way in providing great taste. The fruit you add doesn't matter--just add some! Remember you can use canned mandarin oranges or Cuties or any kind of canned fruit (in natural juices) if you can't find the fresh in your market or if its not in season. Adding fruit gives the salad an entirely new dimension and helps get another serving of fruit into the day.

The idea is to be satisfied or satiated after eating your meal. The salad can encompass it all-I encourage you to break out of your salad rut and look around for new flavors to help increase your consumption of healthy salads!

If you have a combo that is your favorite, please let me know in the comment section--I'm always looking for new ones.



Nuts (Toasted)




Pine Nuts

Fresh dill or lemon zest

Dried Apricots

Goat Cheese


Fresh mint or basil

Dried Cherries



Shaved radicchio or crisp pancetta




Orange zest, walnut oil or prosciutto


English Stilton





Macadamia Nuts

Fresh Mint


Shaved Parmesan curls


Crumbled bacon or shaved endive


Goat cheese or blue cheese

Pecans or toasted pumpkin seeds

Cayenne pepper or freshly grated nutmeg


Pepper flavored Boursin cheese


Fresh basil or hazelnut oil

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Fresh Mozzarella

Pine Nuts

Fresh Basil

page 85, chapter title: Soups and salads
Sadly, book unknown!

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