Grilling Smart & Healthy: Sauces, Marinades & Rubs


Are you overwhelmed by the choices in sauces, marinades or rubs? What are those ingredients you’re reading? Are you concerned by them?

Here’s a healthy alternative!  Try making your own sauce, marinades or rubs.  They are not only easy and fun to make, but they are often healthier and more economical than store bought.  The different variety of sauces, marinades and rubs are practically endless.  Tap into your creativity today!

 Here are some basics to get started:

  • A sauce is something that is put on the meat once it is cooked to add flavor.
  • Marinades and rubs are added prior to cooking.
  • Marinades are used to help with tougher cuts of meat to tenderize them.
  • A rub is a mixture of spices and herbs that bring out the flavor of the meat but do not overpower it.



Here’s a basic marinade recipe you can modify, you will need:

  • An acid to tenderize:  Vinegar works well but you can also use lemon juice, orange juice, wine or kiwi.
  • Flavoring:  can be very versatile.  Choose the seasonings or spices you happen to have on hand or use frequently.
  • Oil-to hold the ingredients together and add moisture to the meat.
  • Salt- makes the meat more juicy and flavorful.


1. Mix together three parts oil for every one part acid.

2. Then, add in your choice of flavorings and salt to taste.

Marinating Tips and Warnings

1. Always marinate in a non-reactive container like glass or stainless steel. Aluminum containers are not suitable for marinating.

2. Pierce the meat with a fork to allow the marinade to penetrate.

3. Store foods in the refrigerator while they marinate.

4. Do not reuse any marinade that has come into contact with raw meat, unless it has been boiled for at least five minutes.

5. Fish should not be marinated for more than 30 minutes because the acid will start to “cook” it.

6. Allow raw meats to soak in marinade for up to 24 hours to tenderize.


I’m sure you have previously used salt and pepper to season your meats before grilling.  Other kinds of tasty rubs can be easily made.  Dry rubs typically include spices and dried herbs.  Experiment with what you have on hand.  Focus on Salt, Sugar, Savory and Spicy flavors.  Paprika makes a nice base for most rubs (no flavor, just color).  Try a smoked paprika when you feel a little more adventurous.  Once you find a recipe you like, you can make a large amount and store it in an airtight container or spice shaker.


Although BBQ sauce is very popular, there are many other sauces to consider. Our family favorite is pesto sauce.  Feel free to review recipes on-line to find your family’s favorite!  I suggest buying a basil plant and make pesto sauce all summer! Here is my personal pesto recipe:

1 cup basil leaves, washed, patted dry

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Chop basil leaves in a food processor, add garlic, continue processing and add the olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Once it is the desired consistency (you may add more of the liquid ingredients if needed), add Parmesan cheese.  Serve over grilled chicken, shrimp or beef.  We also like to have pasta and cut up tomatoes with the sauce.  Enjoy!

Fire up the grill and enjoy your marinades, rubs and sauces this summer!

My Dad, My Superhero

June is Men’s Health Month! Men’s Health Month aims to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. June is also a time to celebrate fathers and their important role in the lives of their children. Our fathers play an essential role in our psychological, social and physical development.

Continue reading

How Sweet Are You?

In my last blog we discussed how excess belly fat, stress and inadequate sleep contribute to long-term inflammation and how chronic inflammation is associated with many diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and autoimmune conditions.  We also discussed how diet and exercise play an important role in chronic inflammation.  Although there are many foods associated with chronic inflammation (e.g. processed foods high in saturated and trans fat, red meat, excess alcohol and omega 6 rich foods such as safflower, sunflower and corn oils), added sugar has gained attention since sugar calories are the major contributor to heart attacks, strokes, cancer, dementia and type 2 diabetes.

On average, Americans consume 23 teaspoons (92g) of actual added sugar per day.  The American Heart Association recommends women and men consume no more than 6 teaspoons (24g) and 9 tsp (36g) of added sugar per day, respectively.  Sugar not only promotes inflammation but it is also a source of empty calories (i.e. void of nutrients).  It is estimated that the average American consumes 385 calories of added sugars per day.  An excess of 385 calories per day represents more than one pound of weight gain in 10 days or enough calories to fuel one and a half hours of walking.  Most Americans find it challenging to meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity (i.e. 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week) never mind one and a half hours of exercise per day!

Obviously, we have a lot of work to do to improve the average American diet, especially in regard to the amount of added sugars in our commercial foods and beverages.  Manufacturers know that added sugars, as well as other ingredients, contribute to addictive properties and promote overeating.  Once a consumer is “addicted,” the manufacturer has a customer for life!  To counter this tactic, many groups and professionals are fighting back with important information for consumers.  FED UP is a powerful documentary film exploring the effects of sugar on obesity and disease, and how the food industry has contributed to our current national epidemic of health problems.

Become empowered and change the way you eat forever!   Join Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth) and director Stephanie Soechtig to take the FED UP challenge to go sugar free for 10 days.  Start your challenge today by cutting:

  • Sodas and other regular and artificially sweetened beverages (e.g. bottled teas, fruit juices and sports drinks)
  • Foods that have added sugars (e.g. honey, molasses, agave)
  • Hidden sugars in foods such as yogurts, canned foods, spaghetti sauce and ketchup.

People who successfully complete the challenge can expect to have more vitality, greater clarity of mind, reduced chronic aches and pains, improved gut health and better sleep.  The film opened in theaters across the country on May 9th, 2014.  Find a theater near you and invite as many friends and family to join you.  Let’s spread the word and take back our health and our food system.  It is time we promote health not disease!

Ever wonder why “one” is not enough?  Stay tuned for my next blog when we will examine the addictive properties of sugar and artificial sweeteners!

In Good Health,

Anne L. Hague, PhD, MS, RDN, LD, RDH, CLT

Peanut Butter..a sticky subject

I love peanut butter!  My family loves peanut butter.  We use it all the time.  The dilemma in our house is what type of peanut butter is best.  I grew up on Jif® as have my sons.  But when the trans fat (partially hydrogenated oil) evidence mounted and it became evident that eliminating trans fats in the diet is important, I realized my “go to” breakfast food had to change…peanut-butter-spoon

These days the grocery stores tend to have at least 4 shelves and a rather large section devoted to peanut butter.  Which to choose?  I changed to a natural peanut butter.  The ingredients are peanuts and salt – that’s it!  I tried natural peanut butter without salt and found I prefer a little salt.  Natural peanut butter typically has 147 mg of sodium per 2 T or 6% of the daily value.  Anything less than 10% DV is a low source of a nutrient.

I found I really liked the flavor of the natural peanut butter, but the texture was different and took some getting used to…  Since hydrogenated fats are not added to natural peanut butter, you will find a layer of oil at the top of the jar which will need to be mixed in. To ease stirring, I’ve learned some tricks.

First, I store my peanut butter upside down until I’m ready to open it for the first time.  This way the liquid is at the bottom of the jar which makes it easier to stir.  If the jar is not used within a month, refrigeration is recommended.  Since I consume peanut butter regularly, I keep it at room temperature so it spreads more easily.  I give the jar a quick stir in the morning and enjoy a healthy source of protein and fat!

Unlike myself, my sons did not appreciate the taste and texture of natural peanut butter.  But there are alternatives!  Manufacturers have started to make peanut butter with palm oil instead of hydrogenated oils.  Palm oil contains primarily saturated fats.  This provides the spreadable consistency that my boys love.  However, if you are following a special diet (e.g. diagnosed with heart disease) this may not be the solution for you.

So we are a “two kinds” of peanut butter house for now and I’m okay with that!  What type of peanut butter is in your house?

-Laura Poland, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

“C” is for Caution, not Cancer

Last month, a writer for the New York Times composed two articles that attempted to debunk the role of fruits and vegetables for cancer prevention. It became an instant, New York minute media sensation. Luckily, the dust has settled and I hope that none of you bought into the conclusions. Although, the author has some rational points, words and research taken out of perspective can be “interpreted” various ways. Let’s briefly review.

The first article titled “An Apple a Day, and Other Myths” misconstrued the scientific research as well as Dr. Walter C. Willett’s statements from the plenary session at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting. A few days later, the author wrote another article titled “From an Apple a Day to ‘Energy Balance’ in Cancer Research.” I respectfully question the author’s strong conclusions that the role of fruits and vegetables in the American diet is not significant for cancer prevention. The author further states that tobacco cessation, inflammation reduction, and obesity prevention are far more important factors for cancer prevention. Yes, I agree to a point, but the link to how fruits and vegetables may be vital as a conjunctive strategy is not clearly stated.

The epidemiological data, or observational data, may not support strong or “convincing” evidence, however, this author does not supply any alternative evidence to support his conclusions. His strong opinions are all based on a lack of strength and his “interpretation” of someone’s statements. Does “probable” or “limited” evidence truly suggest that fruits and vegetables are not important? Or did the research designs limit the strength of evidence? Dr. Joel Furman wrote a rebuttal article published in The Huffington Post titled “The Nutrition and Cancer Myth?” stating that “there has been no population eating a true anti-cancer diet that could be observed over a long period of time to effectively evaluate the power of a diet containing a full portfolio of these super foods, without all the commercial foods and animal products that stimulate cancer-promoting hormones.” Well-said Dr. Furman.

Bottom line, fruits and vegetables are healthy choices for everyone’s diet! A person should aim for 5+ servings, every day. Yet, most Americans fall short of their goal recommendations. Will adequate fruit and vegetable intake prevent cancer? Who really truly knows, but it may take 20 years before you discover that answer for yourself. That is not a risk I am willing to take. Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber. They are also low in calories, providing between 25 to 80 calories per serving when eaten plain. Fruits and vegetables MAY not directly prevent cancer, but indirectly they can reduce oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and help manage body weight when consumed regularly at recommended levels. It is well known that these factors are significant contributors to cancer development.

What dietary gamble are you willing to take?

-Larissa Brophy, MS, RDN, LD

Food, Fitness and Rewards

Family-BikingI love the spring, especially track and field season!!  I have a high school student who participates in the field events.  The other day, he hit a “PR” (personal record).  This is always so exciting and makes us want to celebrate.  It’s very easy to want to “go out to eat” or provide some “treat”.  As a dietitian I am aware that using food as a reward with our kids sets up some bad habits.

The thing is, when we exercise or work out we all feel we deserve a reward.  It’s time to break the habit of that reward being unhealthy food.   I’m not sure you burn as many calories as you think either…

Low impact activities burn around 200-300 calories per hour while vigorous activities may burn as much as 500-800 calories per hour for a 160# person; if you weigh more you will burn slightly more.  If you weigh less, for example, a 100# child playing soccer at a moderate – vigorous level they will burn ~ 250-350 calories for 45 minutes of play. Also, please consider, most of us do not keep up the vigorous level the entire time.

Now lets’ discuss how many calories are in typical snacks brought to the soccer/baseball fields.

  • Oreo 6 pack:  270 calories
  • Snack Stacks Potato Crisps (by Pringles) 110 calories
  • Snickers Candy Bar 296 calories
  • Can of pop 150 calories
  • Capri Sun 70-100 calories (there are 100% juice varieties)

Many of these foods are sometimes provided together as a “snack”.  The issue here of course is providing the calories with no nutrition to help the body recover from the workout.  Check out this article from the Washington Post “Calorie-heavy snacks help push childhood obesity rate up”.

I would bet if you ask around most of your fellow moms and dads will agree that they don’t want their child re-fueling with empty calories.  We need to teach our kids that it is okay to have snacks but it’s important to have healthy snacks.  Less nutritious foods can fit in a diet but only after consuming a healthy meal or snack, and not all the time.  Check out this web-site for great resources when approaching your team’s coach about healthier snacks on the sidelines.

So this spring, enjoy the soccer, baseball and track and field events!  Celebrate with your kids.  Consider rewards that don’t include food such as activities (golf outings) or gift cards/money (teens), trips to favorite places such as the pet store, library etc., or empowerment such as choosing the family’s next movie, game or family outing.

Laura Poland, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Cool Your Embers: Simple Techniques to Reduce Your Risk Today

Belly FatIn my last blog, Cool Your Embers, we discussed the concept of acute (or good) inflammation versus chronic (or bad) inflammation, and how long-term inflammation is associated with many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and autoimmune diseases.  We also discussed how diet and exercise play an important role in chronic inflammation.  Let’s now take a look at two other factors that can help you to “cool your embers” and reduce your risk of disease:

  • Health Body Weight: Rid Excess Belly Fat

Research shows that fat in the belly area (visceral fat) may play an especially important role in inflammation since abdominal fat cells secrete an inflammatory molecule called interleukin-6 (IL-6).  Inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-6, contribute to insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease, and helps explain why those with android obesity (i.e. “apple-shaped” or excess fat in the abdomen) have a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes compared to those with gynoid obesity (i.e. “pear-shaped” or excess fat in the hips and thighs).  Check your waist measurement.  Excess inflammation is likely if your waist circumference is 35 inches or greater for women and 40 inches or greater for men.

  • Adequate Sleep and Stress Reduction

Recent research shows those who are sleep deprived have higher levels of inflammation.  In the META-Health study, individuals who reported six hours of sleep or less had higher levels of inflammatory markers (e.g. fibrinogen, IL-6 and C-reactive protein) compared to those who reported six to nine hours of sleep.  Stresses to the body such a sleep deprivation and tension also contribute to increased belly fat.  To help reduce your risk of disease(s), include stress management techniques and plan for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.  Try the simple breathing technique below (i.e. “Take Five”) to help you better manage stress:

  1. Sit up straight, get comfortable.
  2. Place one hand on your abdomen and gently close your eyes.
  3. Breathe in deeply through your nose to a count of five and pause for a count of one (watch the hand on your abdomen rise but don’t lift your shoulders).
  4. Exhale through your mouth to a count of five.
  5. Repeat steps one through five for a total of five breaths.  Feel your body relax and release tension!

Until next time, keep up the great work!  Continue to consume anti-inflammatory foods and try deep breathing exercises to help manage stress.  Be sure to get adequate sleep and include regular exercise/physical activity.  These practices will help reduce belly fat and help smother the flames of chronic inflammation!

Next time, we’ll discuss another simple technique you can implement to further reduce your risk of chronic inflammation and subsequent disease.  Stay tuned!  :)

In Good Health,

Anne L. Hague, PhD, MS, RDN, LD, RDH, CLT

Nutrition and Physical Fitness for Ergonomics

Ergonomics is defined as the study of an individual’s efficiency in the workplace. Two factors that can play a large role in work productivity are nutrition and physical activity. Many employees have heavy workloads, high stress levels and often sit at their work stations for hours at a time. Why does this pose a problem? Continue reading

How to outrun your Diabetes?

I generally tell ALL of my clients with diabetes to increase their daily physical activity/exercise to help control blood glucose levels. The research has shown that just 10 minutes of brisk walking after a meal may help reduce blood glucose levels between meals. Other research supports the role of strength training to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes by building muscle that is glucose “hungry”.

So you know the importance of physical activity and exercise in regards to diabetes. Right?

Two new studies published in the April 2014 Diabetes Care additionally implicate the role of dietary patterns (the foods you choose to eat) in diabetes.

In the first study, researchers further evaluated data from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, comparing 11,000 subjects that developed diabetes to 14,000 subjects that did not. The data, after accounting for other diabetes risk factors and dietary factors, suggests that a high total protein intake may increase your risk for developing diabetes. Before you go on a low protein diet, the type of protein made a difference. For every 10 grams of ANIMAL based protein, a modest increase for diabetes development was observed and was slightly higher in obese women (BMI > 30 kg/m2).  The same risk was not seen when PLANT based proteins were eaten.

The second study compared the effects of a low-fat diet versus a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet (LCMD) in individuals recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.  For both diet groups, women followed a 1500-calorie diet, whereas men followed an 1800-calorie diet. Researchers followed the subjects until medication was prescribed. All subjects in the LCMD group required medication after 8.1 years, whereas the low-fat group required medications by 6.1 years.

Bottom line, what you DO and what you EAT can have a profound effect on preventing, developing, and managing diabetes. Choosing plant-based proteins versus animal based proteins may be protective and it is definitely healthier in the long run. Furthermore, choosing a Mediterranean style approach to your eating pattern by including olive oil, white meat poultry and fish, whole grains, and many vegetables may delay the progression of diabetes.

 By Larissa T Brophy, MS, RDN, LD (working towards my certification as a diabetes educator/CDE)

A Food Label Facelift

LABEL_REVISIONS_FINAL4_no_captionsAfter 20 years, it is about time! Although the final format has not been determined, America is definitely getting a new food label. The goal is to make the label easier to read, include content more relevant to consumers of today, and base the content on more realistic portions, a serving size that a person is more likely to eat.

Highlights of the proposed changes:

  • The servings per container and calories per serving will be bolded for emphasis.
  • The percent Daily Values (DV) will be given on the left hand side versus right hand side. The DV will still be based on a 2000-calorie diet, so the percentages remain more of a guide for consumers.

Over 20% high source, Under 5%, 5%-20%

The four key nutrients will be modified to reflect current nutrient concerns that are affecting the health of our nation.

  • Vitamin D and potassium instead of Vitamin A and Vitamin C (latter two will be voluntary)
  • Iron and calcium will remain on the label
  • There will be a separate line for “added” sugars! The confusion over “added” versus “natural” sugars will finally be clarified. This change is my favorite.
  • The number of calories provided by fat will be omitted. The consumer focus will hopefully shift to the type of fat, not the calories provided by the fat. Limiting saturated fats and avoiding transfats is key to better health.

Do you think the new food label format will help you better understand the Nutrition Facts? Time will tell for me.

-Larissa T Brophy, MS, RDN, LD