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Food Frustration

Right Way Wrong Way

Imagine for a minute that you don’t have GPS or Google maps and you are lost. You stop and ask some kind soul for directions and they say, “well, any road will get you there”. Feeling exasperated you’d probably shrug a sarcastic “thanks” while thinking “what the what?”. When you ask for directions you expect the fastest and/or shortest route. When making a souffle, there’s really only one way to ensure a perfectly puffed and fluffy result. Many things in life have a right way and and a wrong way, but when it comes to nutrition that is just not the case. And this, my friends, is what I like to call food frustration. Few things are cut and dry in the nutrition world, yet there are a lot of people out there preaching that their way or their product is the only way. Sometimes it frustrates me so much that I wish I could go back and tell my college self to pick a different major. No joke.

This week I read two great blog posts that reiterated I’m not the only RD out there feeling food frustration. It also comes as no surprise during conversations with friends and family that food frustration is felt by anyone and everyone. I want you to know that I have felt the twinge of excitement when I hear about a “dramatically effective weight loss program”. I have been tempted to rehab my entire grocery list to conform to the “only nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean”. And, I’ve kept my TV tuned to the “holy grail of weight loss” infomercial for an embarrassing length of time. Why on earth would I do this knowing what I know about nutrition? Well, just like you, I want nutrition to have an obvious and easy-to-follow right way and wrong way.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me “Kate, what do you think about such-and-such product, pill or plan?” I want to do my part to help fight food frustration. I’m going to do some digging about some of these products, pills and plans one by one. I’ll take a look at the ingredients, the evidence and the approach and post my thoughts in future posts. I’d love to know what you want to know about? I often say “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is”…so, what has sounded too good to be true to you lately?

Support Local Agriculture: Keep the Farmers Market Going All Year Long

I’m not sure about where you live, but here in the Chicago-land area the temperature can be described as downright fall-like. While the cooler-than-normal temps are a nice departure from the sweltering heat we usually experience this time of year, thinking about fall brings with it some harsh realities… one of which is that fall is when many farmers market close for the season (tear!). Thankfully my local market will be going strong until October (which is months away despite what the mercury says!), but what can you do if your market ends sooner? Or, if you don’t live near one at all? Here are a few ideas to keep the Farmers Market experience near+dear all year long.

Continue reading over at Smart Eating For Kids for tips and ideas…

Hawaii farmers market produce

Fresh, local produce from our December 2008 vacation to Hawaii (makes me want to go back!)

NOTE: This post was added to Indulgent Wellness on October 5, 2014 in an effort to compile all my posts in one place. I backdated the post to match the date it was published on Smart Eating for Kids.

More Milk, Please

By virtual show of hands, how many of you have read something or been in a conversation about whether or not you or your kids should be drinking milk? And I’m talking about good, old-fashioned milk from a cow. I was getting my eyebrows done a few weeks ago and the aesthetician chatted my ear off about all sorts of utterly uninformed and nonsensical things she had recently heard about drinking milk and then not 48 hours later I found myself in a similar conversation with the cashier at the grocery store.

My Hailey Bailey Boo cheers-ing with her milk!

My Hailey Bailey Boo cheers-ing with her milk!

Continue reading at Smart Eating for Kids…

NOTE: This post was added to Indulgent Wellness on October 5, 2014 in an effort to compile all my posts in one place. I backdated the post to match the date it was published on Smart Eating for Kids.

Fun on the Farm

Heins Family Farms

Last month I visited Kansas City, along with a group of fabulous Registered Dietitians, at the invite of the Midwest Dairy Council. We had the opportunity to tour Heins Family Farms in Higginsville, MO and learn more about milk from farm to table.

Group in Front of Truck

Photo courtesy of Amber Pankonin (@RDamber)

I’ve been a milk-drinker all my life, but this was my first visit to a dairy farm and it was incredible to learn that it is so much more than just a “cow & milk” operation. I never knew how much agriculture was involved in dairy farming and that they grow a large majority of the crops that feed the cows right on the property. In fact, when we arrived, they were quickly trying to harvest rye before a crazy weather front moved in that changed the weather from sunny and 80 degrees to snowing the next day! We got to see the tractors packing down the rye to be used as part of the food mixture in the coming year.


One thing that really caught my interest was the careful attention to resource utilization and recycling on the farm. We learned that tons and tons of sand are used to provide bedding for the cows. The stalls are flushed with water many times a day and both the sand and water are reclaimed (along with the inevitable manure that comes with it!) for further use on the farm. The waste from the cows is used to fertilize the agricultural crops, the water is recycled to clean the stalls and they are able to reclaim 85-90% of the sand to be used again. There was also some brilliant engineering involved in the process – the thoughtful layout of the farm and planning around the sloping of the land helped this entire process happen with essentially gravity alone.


Top left photo courtesy of Amber Pankonin (@RDamber)

I got a kick out of how Farmer Chris talked about the “girls”, the cows, that is! As we walked along he pointed out specific “girls” and talked about their personality and quirks – those sassy ladies! Toward the end of the tour I asked Chris why he had numbers scrawled on his hands with Sharpie marker and he said they were his notes from his morning rounds. If he saw something of concern or out of the ordinary with any of the girls, he made a note to circle back and check her out. What really stuck with me was when he said, “If we take care of the cows, they’ll take care of us.”

Hand Writing

Kate and Farmer Chris

I’ve always been a milk-lover, but I have a whole new appreciation for the farm to table process after having toured the farm myself. I want to be sure that Hailey has an appreciation for her food from farm to table from an early age and I actually bought a Groupon yesterday to tour Fair Oaks Farms sometime this summer! We pass by there often on our way to visit family, so when I saw the Groupon I couldn’t pass it up! If you live in the Indiana/Illinois area, you should check it out – the Groupon is available for another day or so!

I can’t close without a special shout out to new RD-friend Amber Pankonin who graciously shared her amazing photos of our dairy farm adventure, some of which are used in the post. (she’s the one with the cute striped scarf in the group shot above!) She writes the blog Healthy Under Pressure and her latest post about photo “selfies” is hil.a.ri.ous.

Disclosure: I happily attended this farm tour as a guest of the Midwest Dairy Council. I was not compensated to write this post and all milk-loving views are my own.

Spring Out My Window

The mercury is finally climbing higher here in Chicagoland and nature can feel it too. Today’s view out my home office window is a budding tree and blooming daffodils. Finding the daffodils in this picture is sort of like playing Where’s Waldo, but they are there!

Budding Tree

I had a great meeting yesterday with my Smart Eating for Kids partner in crime. We launched SEFK about 1.5 months ago and we’re just as excited as the day we first started talking about the idea. I’ve always been interested in nutrition, since before I formally studied it in school, but nutrition takes on a whole new meaning once you are feeding your own child. We’ve been so fortunate that Hailey doesn’t have any food allergies or intolerances and, for the most part, she is an adventurous and eager eater. But, even with those things on our side, there are challenges that crop up and SEFK is a place for me and my fellow contributors to share some of our research-based, tried and true strategies. You can also find SEFK on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.


Lunch today was a yummy turkey & co-jack sandwich along with a spinach salad drizzled with a little bit of EVOO and cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar. I used to think of vinegar as an unpleasant, acidic ingredient that only tasted good when incorporated in to a recipe…that was until I started tasting really good quality balsamic vinegars. The cinnamon pear balsamic is from a local shop we love called Oh Olive. When I bought it, they included a recipe for the most amazing sweet potato fries – warning: they are seriously addictive. Also on my lunch plate are some Spicy Chili Pepper Hummus Chips. I spotted these at the grocery store on Sunday and they sounded intriguing. The flavor has a bit of kick and I love that a single portion (about 30 chips) feels substantial, but only costs you 130 calories.

TIP OF THE DAY: Some nutrients are better absorbed by the body when they are eaten with a small amount of fat. This is especially true for nutrients called carotenoids found in red, yellow, organge and some dark green fruits and veggies. You’ll probably enjoy eating your salad even more when paired with a drizzle of good quality EVOO or regular dressing used sparingly – and you’ll certainly get more nutrients out of it.