Archive | August, 2014

Healthy Dining Finder

30 Aug

healthy dining finder

Written by Nikki Nies

How often do you dine out? Three times? Every night? No matter how often you dine out, you can be smart about it every time. Healthy Dining Finder takes the guess work out of what you’re eating!

By utilizing the Healthy Dining Finder, one can increase awareness of the composition of meals. Healthy Dining Finder. No matter what nutrient you’re trying to limit (i.e. fat, sodium) or just looking to eat more healthy, you’ve come to the right place!

The best part? This website is regulated by Registered Dietitians (RD), who are premier experts in all things nutrition and healthy eating. The options chosen by RDs are great options as they’ve met the gold standard in regards to high nutrient ingredients.

The criteria RDs use in choosing healthy menu options include: Entrees must include at least 2 or more of the following ingredients: unsaturated fats, whole grains,lean protein and/or fruits or vegetables. In addition, chosen meals must be 750 calories or less, contain 25 grams of fat or less and have 8 grams of saturated fat or less.

For appetizers and/or side dishes, dishes must be 250 calories or less, 8 g of fat or less and have 3 grams of saturated fat or less.

This website was shared with me by one of the RDs I’m currently working with at MacNeal Hospital, Berwyn, IL.  I’m glad to know there’s RDs giving their stamp of dining out approval.  Sign up for the current newsletter, which includes special offers, current news, recipes and nutrition facts.

So, now that you’ve checked out the list of healthy options, what are you choosing?


Nikki Nies recently moved to the greater Chicago area to complete the combined dietetic internship and Master’s program at Benedictine University.  This post was originally shared on her blog, We Dish Nutrition.


Eating Healthy While Dining Out

23 Aug


Many people may think that eating healthy means never going out to eat. While it’s true many restaurants load up on the grease, follow these strategies on how to choose the best option when ordering off the menu.


General tips:

  • Fruit and yogurt parfaits are a good option that can provide calcium without too much saturated fat.
  • Choose low-fat milk and 100% fruit juice instead of sodas and orange flavored drinks.
  • Order regular or egg-white omelets; they are high in protein which will provide you with long-lasting energy for the day. Also, fill your omelets up with vegetables and low-fat meats like chicken sausage.
  • Breakfast platters usually come with home fries and toast. Skip the home fries and ask for some fruit on the side. Choose wheat toast instead of white toast, ask for your toast dry, skip the butter.
  • Oatmeal is always a great breakfast choice; it’s full of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Add skim milk for an added bonus of calcium. Add fruit and nuts for a delicious and nutritious breakfast!
  • Next time you order a breakfast sandwiches stick with whole wheat toast , eggs and a low-fat meat (turkey bacon, chicken sausage).

Unhealthy Breakfast Foods:

  • Pancakes, waffles, or French toast (especially when filled with sugar and fat) these food items provide little nutritional value.
  • Bacon, sausage, or any other fried meat. If available, turkey bacon or Canadian bacon is a better option.
  • Muffins: It doesn’t matter if it’s blueberry, muffins are high in fat and sugar. They may taste good but will leave you feeling hungry soon after.


General tips:

  • Stay away from anything that includes the words: stuffed, double, triple, slammed-dunked, crispy, or glazed.
  • If it comes in an edible bowl, don’t order it.
  • Salad dressing can make a salad unhealthy. Order it on the side and choose non-cream based, light, or fat-free salad dressings.
  • Instead of an entrée, have a salad and an appetizer.
  • For a side dish, skip the french fries and get a side salad or seasonal vegetable.
  • If you’re lunching with other people, share food; you’ll be less likely to over eat.
  • Choose baked or grilled entrées over fried.
  • Start by eating half of your meal and take a break; you may not need the whole meal to be full.


After a long day of hard work, it may be tempting to cave in to some comfort food. You can still have a delicious meal while making healthy food choices.

General tips:

  • Order off the appetizer menu to keep your portions in check.
  • Pick salads with a variety of vegetables, dark-leafy greens, and/or fresh fruits. Also, make sure you include lean protein in your salad, such as grilled chicken, salmon, or beans. Lean protein will help you feel fuller longer.
  • Order salad dressing on the side. Avoid cream or mayo based dressings (i.e. ranch, blue cheese, thousand island). Instead choose vinaigrettes or olive oil and vinegar.
  • Choose soups made with broth or stock and limit cheese, cream or milk (i.e. clam chowder, broccoli with cheese, potato soup).
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • Most entrée’s are enough for two people. Try sharing a plate between 2 — not only are you saving calories but saving money too! If sharing is not an option, try ordering 2 small appetizers or be sure to only eat half of your entrée and save the rest for leftovers the next day.
  • If ordering pasta, ask if they have a whole grain pasta option with a tomato or broth based sauce.
  • Skip the bread. Bread is meant to keep you busy while you wait for your meal and it will add unnecessary calories.
  • Stuffed dishes, such as Chicken Cordon Bleu, are usually stuffed with fat and calories.

Written by April Irvine, Dietetic Intern

Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling

16 Aug


When your stomach or your kids’ stomach grumbles in between meals, it may be tempting to reach for a bag of chips. Here are some tips to choose healthy snacks and pack them for the road!

  • Fresh or cut vegetables and fruit
  • Low fat dairy, such as string cheese, yogurt, and milk
  • Trail Mix/Nuts: almonds, cashews, or walnuts
  • Pre-make your own sandwiches
  • Whole grain cereals, crackers and pretzels
  • Granola

Even though the amount of liquids you’re allowed to pack for a plane ride is limited, you can still pack as much non-liquid food items as you please. Here are snack packing ideas:

  • Pack your own instant oatmeal, coffee, and tea. You can always ask or purchase hot water or milk.
  • If you’re packing snacks that are perishable (fresh veggies, fruit, sandwich meat) bring an extra zip lock bag and ask the stewardess for some ice to keep the food cool.
  • Nuts and fruit are always great, healthy snack items.
  • Pre-make your own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or, pack pre-made wraps, or a filled pita with lean meats and veggies.
  • Bring hummus for an international twist to your snacks!
  • To satisfy a sweet tooth, pack some dark chocolate trail mix

For a healthy, satisfying and filling snack. Try to include at least 2 foods groups in every snack. Such as lean protein + fruit = yogurt + apple. Or healthy fat + protein + whole grain = nut butter on toast.


Written by April Irvine, Dietetic Intern

Three E’s for Success When Traveling

10 Aug



1) Exercise: This is NOT going to happen unless you make it happen. Plan ahead and schedule a hike, a snorkel excursion, a golf game, a walking tour, or a bicycling adventure. Have one of the highlights of your getaway center on physical activity, such as skiing or snowboarding, or even kayaking. View yourself as you are – a healthy active person! Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Pack a pair of great shoes, appropriate clothing, rain gear and an attitude of “I CAN” and “I WILL”!

2) Environment: Not only will you want to set up a proper environment for exercise, but you must also do that with food. Stop in at a market for lunch instead of a fast food restaurant, pack protein bars/shakes for breakfast, share a restaurant meal or ask the staff for a half order, forgo the fries and ask for extra vegetables, carry food and a beverage with you from home, have an emergency stash of healthy foods with you to supplement when you get hungry (think nuts and seeds), look at the restaurant menu before you get there. If you do not want to eat high-carb deep dish pizza, then do not go to a pizza joint. Your environment, even when away from home, is the environment of that plate sitting in front of you and the foods you stock the cupboard with at the condo and the “goodies” you throw in your car or travel bag.

3) Everyday: One overeating excursion meal/day/week/vacation will not be your downfall! Your goal is not to be 100% perfect; your goal is to be 100% accountable! Stay engaged in your wellness.
Make sure that you are always moving forward in your journey to health! Exercise is not something you do – it is who you are! Environmental control is about setting up an environment which supports you being healthy. The default in the American landscape is not a healthy one. You need to be active in ensuring that you surround yourself with activities and foods which enable you to be successful. And employing healthy lifestyle behaviors is not just for those days when there are no holidays or no travel or no special occasions – it is everyday!

Margaret Connor, RD, LDN

August Travel Challenge

2 Aug


This month we challenge our members and their families to end their summer travels on a healthy note! Here are four healthy challenges for you to try during your next vacation, work trip or weekend getaway.

  1. Track your calories using the ‘My Fitness Pal’ App.
  2. Pack your own snacks to reduce or eliminate eating packaged foods.
  3. Ask your waiter/waitress for healthy options on the menu when you eat out.
  4. Plan at least one hour of physical activity a day whether it be taking a hike, snorkeling or walking to dinner. Get up and GET ACTIVE!