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Nutrition Nook

Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

By Holly Klamer, RD 

A common hurdle to eating healthy for many people is the notion that eating healthy is expensive.  While it’s true that eating healthy can be more expensive, it doesn’t have to be if you plan ahead and shop smart.  Here are some tips for eating healthy that can save you time and money.

  1. Plan your meals before going to the grocery store.  This can take the most time, especially at first when trying to eat healthier.  This is an important step that will save you money, so it shouldn’t be over looked!  Planning ahead can keep you on track when shopping, and you can try to find recipes that use the same ingredients to save even more money and cut down on waste.

Finding healthy recipes can’t really be an excuse because there are so many websites and recipes available online.  There are apps for your phone too that can help you plan a grocery list from recipes.

  1. Make extra.  Doubling a recipe can be beneficial for many reasons.  If you make more than you need, it can serve as leftovers the next night for dinner, meals for lunches or you can freeze individual portions in the freezer.  That way you can have a healthy meal that just needs to be reheated when you need something quick and easy in the future.
  2. Buy canned, frozen and in season.  Fresh produce is arguably pretty expensive, especially if you are trying to eat the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  Buying fruits and vegetables is easy in the summer, but in the middle of winter can be much harder.

Canned or frozen produce is much cheaper than fresh and it can actually be more nutritious.  Produce that is going to be frozen or canned usually stays on the vine longer than produce that is being shipped fresh.  Just be aware to look for hidden ingredients; focus on buying frozen or canned produce that does not have extra preservatives, salt or sugar added.

  1. Organic?  If you are trying to lower pesticide residue, buying organic means just that.  However, organic is almost always more expensive that conventional food.  A quick guide for buying organic is the dirty dozen list.  In general, if you eat the peel of something, you may want to focus on buying it organic if you’re trying to lower pesticide residue.  However, some produce it doesn’t matter as much if it is conventional or organic meaning you could save some money there.
  2. Stock up on cheap, healthy foods.  Instead of focusing on what is too expensive to buy, plan your meals around healthy food that is naturally cheap.  Examples include: beans, oats, eggs, some nuts or seeds and in season produce.  Don’t forget to also check stores for their sale items.  Plan meals around more expensive items when they are on sale like organic meats and produce.

What are the Best Diets?

By Holly Klamer, Well@du's RD

January 2014

There are so many different diets to pick from, some good and some that are just plain crazy.  If you are trying to follow a new diet maybe for weight loss or just for better health, ask yourself some of these questions.

  • Does this diet incorporate all the food groups?
  • Does it promote a variety of food or is it restricted?
  • Will I realistically be able to follow this long term?
  • Is this diet backed by research?

Sometimes the more popular diets rank low on the list from scientists and other health professionals.  Every year the US News and World Report ranks the top 35 diets.  They base the ratings on how easy a diet is to follow, how nutritious it is, safety, effectiveness for weight loss and protection against diabetes and heart disease. 

For the 5th year in a row, the DASH diet has gotten the number one ranking.  Most people haven’t even heard of this diet because it is not flashy or hard to follow.  It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and was started by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.  It promotes high fruit and vegetable intake and limited process meats.

Diets that fell at the bottom of the list for top diets included paleo diet, raw food diet and Atkins.

Make Healthy Snacks a Priority for the New Year


By Holly Klamer, Well@du's RD

January 2014

Many people are motivated to make healthier eating choices this time of year with New Year’s resolutions.  However, statistics show that most people have a hard time sticking with New Year’s resolutions throughout the year.  One reason for this may be if people get in a “rut” for healthy eating and get bored or unmotivated to keep eating healthy.

One way to avoid falling off the wagon for healthy eating is to keep it interesting and continuing to add variety.  Making your own dried fruit or vegetable chips can also be a convenient way to get more fruits and vegetables in and can last longer than fresh produce.  Also, making your own ensures they are loaded with added sugar, salt or preservatives.

Here are some healthy snacks that can add variety to your diet.  Click on these ideas for the complete recipes.

  • Homemade dried apple chips or dried bananas can give fix a sweet craving or substitute for a chip craving.
  • Homemade sweet potato or carrot chips will give you a boost of fiber and vitamin A.
  • Kale chips.  There are numerous health benefits to kale, and pre-packaged kale chips are becoming more popular.  However, homemade chips are cheaper and taste better.  Don’t be intimidated to try these; they are simple to make!

For more sweet and savory snack ideas, click here.  Remember, variety is a key component for long term healthy eating.  Maybe you can make a goal this year to try a certain amount of new recipes every month.

Using fruits and vegetables in Unique Ways

 using fruits and vegetables in unique ways

By Holly Klamer, Well@du's RD

January 2014

We all know we need to eat more fruits and veggies for their health benefits, and maybe eating healthier is one of your New Years resolutions.  However, getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day can be hard especially during the colder winter months when much produce is not in season.  Besides making fruits and vegetables half your plate at meal times, here are some unique ideas to bump up your fruit and veggie intake.

Frozen fruit at breakfast.  Frozen fruit can be a great base for making a smoothie in the morning (or anytime snack).  Frozen fruit is also much cheaper to use especially this time of the year.  If drinking something cold isn’t appealing, add frozen fruit into a warm bowl of oatmeal.  Oatmeal can satisfy the need for something warm and adding frozen fruit can be an easy boost in the morning.

Veggies at breakfast.  Cut up a variety of vegetables, like peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc. during the weekend so you can quickly add them to dishes throughout the week.  If you make a scrambled egg in the morning, throw in a handful of spinach and some cut up veggies with it, or make an easy breakfast sandwich topped with leafy greens, avocado and tomato.

Veggies for dinner.  Besides having vegetables as a side dish or in a salad, try adding even more vegetables in main dishes such as pasta, casseroles, stir fries and soups.  Having chopped vegetables on hand can be an easy addition into almost any meal.

Want some more creative uses for adding fruits and vegetables?  Check these links:

How to Combat Emotional Eating

By Holly Klamer, Well@du's RD

December 2014

Emotional eating can happen anytime of the year but can be especially difficult around the holidays.  Emotional eating can set you off track with your weight or other health goals and can be mentally discouraging.  Whether you emotionally eat when you’re sad, bored, happy, angry, etc. these tips can help you avoid emotional eating and break unhealthy behaviors. 

  • Eat regular meals.  Eating regular meals can help avoid excessive food splurges by keeping your blood sugar stable.  Having stable blood sugar can help send a signal to the brain that you don’t have to eat.  Also, if you go long periods without eating, you are more likely to over eat when you do eat.
  • Don’t keep the junk food around.  This is so simple but can help so much!  If you know you like to eat cookies (or whatever other empty calorie food) when you are feeling a certain way, don’t keep them in your house (or desk). 
  • Stay hydrated.  Sometimes we feel like we want to eat something when really our body just needs some fluid.  Before you have a snack, drink some water and wait.  If you’re still truly hungry, eat something but the need to eat something will probably pass if it’s not from true hunger.
  • Ask yourself why you’re eating.  We can get used to using food as a mental relief or as a habit from feeling a certain emotion.  Try to get into the routine of asking yourself why you are eating every time you put something in your mouth.  Are you hungry?  Or is it just because you are bored?
  • Do something positive.  This is the hard part: trying to change your habit.  Instead of eating as your default when you feel a certain emotion, what can you do that’s positive?  Try going for a walk, exercising, deep breathing or something else that you enjoy. 

TIPs for Holding Off Holiday Weight Gain Part 3 - Healthy Holiday Recipe Swaps

By Holly Klamer, Well@du's Registered Dietitian

December 2014

Here are some healthy recipe substitutions that can be made anytime.  You won’t even notice that these swaps will make your dishes healthier by lowering sugar, fat or increasing nutritional value.  Using these swaps can be helpful for enjoying your favorite holiday treats but without some of the empty calories.

  • Use unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana in place of oil or butter to lower fat content
  • Avocado puree for oil or butter to increase omega 3’s and monounsaturated fats
  • Try using nut flours (like almond or cashew) in place of regular flour to increase fiber and protein
  • Evaporated skim milk for cream
  • Turnips, cauliflower or parsnips mashed in place of mashed potatoes
  • Rolled oats for bread crumbs
  • Greek yogurt for sour cream
  • Canned coconut milk for cream
  • Reduce the sugar amount when baking by half without needing to replace anything else in.

Tips for Holding Holiday Weight Gain Part 2

 running santa plate sizes

By Holly Klamer, Well@du's Registered Dietitian

December 2014

Here are some more easy tips to help you hold off holiday weight gain.  Simple tips to change your environment can help you avoid holiday weight gain without feeling like you are starving or unable to eat any holiday food.  Keep in mind these tips can be used any time of the year!

Use smaller plates.  Using smaller plates can help you “trick” your mind into thinking you’re eating more than you are.  We tend to eat with our eyes first, and a full smaller plate looks more satisfying than a non-filled larger plate.  Keep the rule of making half your plate fruits and vegetables while perusing a holiday food table.  This leaves you room to sample some higher calorie dishes but a smaller portion size. 

Avoid high calorie drinks.  Holiday drinks can be a huge source of hidden extra calories this time of the year.  Eggnog, hot chocolate, lattes and alcoholic mixed drinks can all be full of sugar.  For example, a medium size holiday flavored latte can have around 30-45 grams of sugar which is the equivalent of a 12 oz can of soda. 

See here (  for more suggestions for lighter options of holiday cocktails and which holiday cocktails that can be higher in calories.

 Check back next week for more tips for holding holiday weight gain!  What helps you during the holidays?


December 2014

On average, most Americans gain about 1-2 pounds during the holiday season while overweight Americans tend to gain closer to 4-5 pounds during the holidays (  To avoid this sneaky, unsuspecting weight gain there are some practical tips you can be mindful of this time of year.

An easy tip is to just slightly trim your portion sizes at meal times.  Eat just a little bit less than you normally would.  This sounds simple, but there is specific research suggesting eating 20% less than normal can be useful for cutting out extra calories but you won’t feel deprived.  Anything larger 20% less and the brain notices the deprivation. 

Another easy tip is to eat what you only will really enjoy.  Don’t take a little of everything; only put in your mouth what you really want.  Savor the bites of what you were craving and you will be satisfied!  Why “waste” calories on food you don’t even like that much?  Choose the treat you want at holiday parties and skip the high calorie foods you really won’t enjoy that much.

Stay tuned this month for other healthy holiday tips.  What helps you navigate around the holiday treats this time of year?

Health Benefits of Pomegranates


By Holly Klamer, Well@du's Registered Dietitian

November 2014

Pomegranates are in season and widely available this time of the year.  Though they are not the easiest fruit to eat, the health benefits pay off for the hassle.  Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage and possibly lower risk for cancer formation.

Other benefits of pomegranate may include:

  • Improving blood flow to the heart
  • Lower plaque buildup in arteries
  • May specifically slow the rate of prostate cancer growth

An easy way to enjoy pomegranates is to fill a large bowl full of cold or luke warm water.  Place pomegranate in bowl of water and begin to tear apart the fruit into 2 or 3 sections.  You may want to cut through the pomegranate skin first to make this easier.

Then begin tearing away the skin and loosening the seeds.  When you’re finished, drain the water and collect the seeds into a jar or Tupperware container and keep in the refrigerator.  Now you can grab some pomegranate seeds easily anytime you want.

Toss pomegranate seeds on salads, on oatmeal, in yogurt, on cocktail or non-alcoholic drinks or simply eat by the handful for a sweet nutritious snack.


Grass or grain fed meat- what’s the difference?

grassfedBy Holly Klamer, Well@du's Registered Dietitian

November 2014

Grass fed meats are typically more expensive and can be harder to find in the grocery store.  Is the extra effort worth the proposed health benefits?  A 2010 article ( in the Nutrition Journal highlights the health differences between grain and grass fed meat (specifically beef).  According to this article, grass fed and grain fed beefs have no significant difference in TOTAL amounts of saturated fats.  However, an important difference is the types of saturated fats in grass vs. grain fed beef. 

Not all saturated fats are created equal.  Myristic and palmitic fatty acids are known to raise cholesterol levels, and these two were higher in grain fed beef in the majority of studies analyzed.  However, stearic acid was higher in grass finished (partially fed grains then fed grass before slaughter) and grass fed beef compared to grain only fed beef.  Stearic acid has been shown to have a neutral impact on cholesterol.  Therefore, grass fed beef appears to have a more beneficial impact on cholesterol compared to grain fed beef.

Grass fed beef also has been shown to have higher omega 3 fatty acids compared to grain fed beef.  Most Americans do not get enough omega 3’s which are needed to lower inflammation and reduce blood clotting.  Is the grass fed meat worth the extra money?  That is a personal decision, but research thus far supports health benefit to eating grass fed meats over grain fed meats.