My Favorite Snack…. Popcorn!

Who doesn’t love popcorn? It’s a great whole grain and if you make it my way, it’s low in calories, sodium, fat…and best of all…super affordable!

This is the easiest and cheapest way to make popcorn- it is essentially air popped popcorn without using an air popper….and it is delicious!

All you need is a brown paper bag, popcorn kernels, and a microwave.

Step 1:
Place about 3 Tablespoons of kernels inside a regular brown paper lunch bag

Step 2:
Fold the top of the bag about 3-4 times (use small folds)

Step 3:
Lay the bag on it’s side and play in the microwave. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes depending on your microwave settings

Step 4:
Remove the bag, pour into a bowl, and serve. SO GOOD and no sodium, grease, or chemicals.

Let me know what you thing!

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Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.


The Best (and Easiest!) Thing I Have Ever Made in the Crock Pot

Well….that’s what my husband said  Of course, we have only been married for 4 months, so he doesn’t have a lot to compare it to haha.

The other day I wanted to make something quick, yet still healthy for dinner, so I decided to make chicken parmesan… in the crock pot. It is so simple and tastes delicious!

Here is all you need:

1 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 can of tomato sauce or 16 oz homemade sauce
4 oz part skim or fat free mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tsp olive oil
a crock pot

The steps:
1. Place the olive oil in the bottom of the crock pot and spread it around so it covers the bottom
2. Place the chicken breasts on the bottom of the crock pot
3. Pour sauce into crock pot to cover the chicken breasts
4. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of sauce
5. Turn crock pot to high and leave for 4-5 hours (or until chicken is completely white throughout)

Let me know if you like it as much as we did!

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Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Too Much of a Good Thing? Investigating Protein

I just finished up an interview where we were discussing issues that can occur with excessive protein intake. So I figured this would make a great topic to discuss.

In general, protein is an important nutrient. Our bodies need protein to build muscle, repair cells, and promote growth. When losing weight, we also need adequate protein to help our body reserve lean tissue (muscle tissue). Protein is also a very filling food. So, when I have clients trying to lose weight, I encourage them to consume protein (along with vegetables) with each meal as a way of increasing fullness and preventing them from overeating less filling/ higher calorie foods, such as refined starches (white pasta, etc).

Athletes need protein as well to help support muscle growth and development. After resistance exercise, you want to consume one to two ounces of protein (7-14 grams) within 30 minutes- 1 hour of completing your workout to maximize the effectiveness of the protein in muscle growth and repair.

But, can there be too much of a good thing? Absolutely! Individuals who follow low carbohydrate, high protein diets, or those consuming large amounts of protein shakes and supplements may very well be taking in far more protein then they need each day. The average adult needs around 50-65gm or protein per day (7-9 ounces of protein). Even elite strength training athletes only need as much as 120 grams/day (based on a 150lbs athlete with protein needs of 1.8gm/kg of body weight/day).

So what about those people who drink protein shakes as meals or eat protein bars all day long? Some of these shakes contain as much as 42grams of protein per serving! If you drink this 3x per day, you are already consuming 126grams of protein just from supplements alone. Then add in the amount of protein you most likely consume from food, and you could easily be taking in as much as 200grams of protein or more per day!

What can happen if you take in too much protein? A lot! If you are an athlete or even a recreational exerciser, you are putting yourself at an increased risk for dehydration. Protein requires additional fluid to metabolize and excrete it’s byproducts. Studies have shown that as an individual’s protein intake increases, their dehydration level decreases. These studies have also shown this happens silently, meaning the individuals did not feel an increased thirst level, so they did not increase their fluid intake. Dehydration can lead to a number of issues. In mild cases, it can decrease athletic performance and endurance, it can also cause muscle cramps, cardiovascular disturbances, and in extreme cases can even put one at risk for heat injury such as heat stroke.

Another major concern, especially for females, is the risk of decreased bone density with a high protein intake. When we consume a large amount of protein, this breaks down into amino acids, which then enter the blood stream. This causes the blood to become more acidic. In order for our body to maintain a healthy blood pH, the body needs to pull calcium from the bones, which is one of the most basic minerals in the body, to neutralize the blood. When calcium is removed from the bones, this can weaken the body and over time put one at an increased risk for osteoporosis.

The excess calcium that is entering the blood stream now needs to go somewhere. It can now find it’s way to the kidneys where it will deposit the calcium. These calcium deposits can develop into painful kidney stones. Your risk for kidney stones is even higher if your dehydrated.

In the absence of adequate carbohydrates, you can also enter into a state of ketosis. This is when the body if forces to use fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. This can result in fatigue, headaches, decreased athletic performance and mental acuity, and if someone has underlying kidney issues, this can cause further decline in kidney function.

So what is the bottom line? For most people, if you consume protein from food sources rather than supplements, you are less likely to over consume protein. I do recommend having a good source of protein with each meal, as this can help regulate appetite. However, unless you struggle to meet your protein needs, I do not recommend protein shakes and supplements. If you are an athlete or recreational exerciser, a busy schedule can make it difficult to have protein after a workout. Having an occasional supplemental protein source after a workout in these situations is fine, but watch which one you choose. Look for a supplement that contains no more than 15-20 grams of protein at most and only have one supplement per day. Real food is always the best choice!

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Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Fat Tax Debate

You have probably heard by now that Denmark has implemented a “fax tax” applying a surcharge to foods with more than 2.3% saturated fats. The country states this tax is being put into effect to help combat obesity and heart disease, but is this really going to help?

In my opinion, good health and good nutrition is all about moderation. If I buy butter, but use it maybe once a week in a recipe, even though this food is high in saturated fat, this really isn’t going to raise my heart disease risk since it is being consumed so infrequently. In the same sense, if I stopped buying butter due to a “fax tax” eating no butter vs 1-2 teaspoons per week, this isn’t really going to make my heart that much healthier. Now what about this scenario: I could go buy a “healthier” food that contains less than 2.3% saturated fat (let’s say for arguments sake it contains 1.5% saturated fat and therefore does not cost me an additional tax), but if I eat tons of this food every day, I’m taking in many more grams of saturated fat a day then that teaspoon of butter was giving me, increasing my heart disease risk.

So what is the solution? In my opinion, we need to stop penalizing unhealthy choices and start rewarding healthy choices. What about a tax rebate for those that keep their cholesterol at a healthy level or lower it a certain percent throughout the course of the year? Or tax write offs/ rebates/incentives for buying more vegetables, having (and using) a gym membership, or maintaining a healthy weight. I think rewarding people by helping them save money (or giving them money back) is a lot more motivating, and productive, then penalizing unhealthy behavior. I also think this would be part of the solution to the “healthy food is too expense” issue many individuals face.

If this type of “fat tax” is ever implemented in America, I really hope they at least use the money for community nutrition education programs to help the public understand how to improve their health and what foods would be better choices.

What are your opinions on this tax? Post your comments here or let me know how you feel on twitter @DietExpertNJ

For more information visit

Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

An Apple A Day…

In honor of fall, I wanted to make my next blog all about the health benefits of apples. As it turns out, the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” may very well be true. Check out some of the amazing health benefits apples have:

1. Avoid Alzheimer’s
A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

2. Curb all sorts of cancers
Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 percent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumors in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute has recommended a high fiber intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

3. Decrease your risk of diabetes
Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fiber, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

4. Reduce cholesterol
The soluble fiber found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

5. Get a healthier heart
An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fiber intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

Want a great new way to enjoy apples? They this delicious dessert recipe:
Baked Apples with Currants
4 medium-size baking apples (e.g. Rome Beauty, Cortland, or Granny Smith)
1/2 cup bran cereal
2 tbsp currants
1 tbsp chopped pecans (optional)
4 tsp brown sugar
4 tsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350ºF. With an apple corer, a melon baller, or a thin, sharp knife, scoop out all but the bottom 1/2 inch of each apple core; with a vegetable peeler, peel a 1/2 inch-wide strip around the top of the cavity.

Stand the apples in a shallow baking dish just large enough to accommodate all of them in a single layer. In a small bowl, combine the cereal, currants, and pecans if desired.

Spoon 1/4 of the mixture into the cavity of each apple, then sprinkle with sugar.
Drizzle the syrup over the apples and bake for 40 or 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife.

Makes 4 servings.

Let me know what you think of this recipe on twitter @DietExpertNJ

For more information visit

Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s Fight Breast Cancer with Nutrition!

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Happy October! Today begins the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death for women in the US and research has linked nutrition with many forms of breast cancer, I thought today would be a great day to discuss some simple diet changes we all can make to help decrease our odds of developing this cancer.

While there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are things all women can do that might tip the odds in their favor, such as changing those risk factors that are in their power to affect.

Tip #1: Increase your intake of yellow and orange vegetables. Yellow and orange vegetables contain high levels of beta carotene, which studies have shown has been linked to lower rates of breast cancer.

Tip#2: Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. It has been found that women with higher tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids may have a lower risk of breast cancer. Great sources include salmon, walnuts, and flax seed.

Tip #3: Cruciferous vegetable (ex. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) contain indole-3-carbinol, which has been shown to lower the level of a type of estrogen in women that may promote breast cancer. Try to eat at least 1-2 cups of these vegetables per day.

Tip #4: Choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates. A study found that women who ate more refined carbohydrates (such as white bread and pasta) had a higher incidence of breast cancer.

Tip #5: Drink green tea: This beverage has been found to contain a high level of EGCG, a compound that has been found to inhibit breast cancer cells in mice.

What changes will you start making today to help decrease your risk?


Post your comments here or let me know how you feel on twitter @DietExpertNJ

For more information visit

Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! My name is Erin Palinski, RD, CDE, LDN, CPT and I am a Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer, and Certified Diabetes Educator. I’m excited to start this blog to share ideas and tips for improving your diet and getting more active. I believe small, gradual changes are the key to improving your health and wellbeing for life!

Please enjoy this blog, post comments and suggestions for topics you would like to see in future blogs, or whatever is on your mind! If you like my posts, please follow me on twitter @DietExpertNJ and sign up for my monthly nutrition newsletter on my website at

I look forward to hearing from you and welcome!


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Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.