New York Times and Healthy Fats

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 2.56.34 PM

Did you see this great article in the Science section of yesterday’s New York Times? In it, Dr. Richard Isaacson, the director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, answers the question, “Could a low-fat diet contribute to memory problems?” His dietary recommendations sound a lot like what we’ve been saying here at Healthy Steps for years! Our program emphasizes the brain- and heart-healthy DHA & EPA omega-3 fats and the monounsaturated fats quintessential to the Mediterranean diet. We also guide our patients to limit consumption of pro-inflammatory omega-6s and dangerous trans fats. Want to understand more about how omega-3s and omega-6s impact inflammation (and therefore, risk of obesity, heart disease and even alzheimer’s)? Check out this video by our Medical Director Dr. Robert Woodbury. 

Lindsay Pasdera, MS RDN

Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition, Obesity | Leave a comment

As we approach Passover…

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 4.42.52 PM


Check out USA Today’s “6 Things to know about Passover

Enjoy some healthy legumes with your passover Seder for the first time this year! ‘Pesach Sameach’ from the whole team at Health Steps!


Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition, Obesity | Leave a comment

Beginner Cook Recipes

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.37.29 PM

Good home cooking skills are very handy when it comes to healthy eating, but it is possible to eat well without Le Cordon Bleu training. I would encourage everyone to grow their cooking skills, either by dedicating one evening a week to trying out a new recipe, or by taking a healthy cooking class. But meanwhile, here are some ideas for healthy meals and snacks that are quick and easy enough for even the least experienced cooks among us to manage!




Scrambled eggs (2) with tomato slices: Here are some tips for cooking delicious scrambled eggs (scrambled egg recipe).


Steel-Cut Oats (3/4 cup prepared): Quick Cooking tip: before going to bed, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 cup of steel-cut oats. Stir thoroughly, then turn off the heat, cover the pot, and leave it right on the stove overnight. When you’re ready for breakfast the next morning, bring the oats back to a boil and serve. (You can store extra prepared oats in the fridge or freezer). My favorite healthy additions are 1/2 scoop of low-sugar vanilla whey protein powder, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and some fresh or microwaved apple chunks.


Protein Shake: Add 1-2 scoops of low-sugar flavored whey protein powder to milk or unsweetened almond, soy or coconut milk. If desired, add 1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit and blend. Alternatively, try a ready-to-drink low sugar protein shake (the shake should have 20-30 grams protein and less than 5 grams of sugar).


3/4 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup fresh fruit


No-sugar-added Greek Yogurt with 1/4 cup unsweetened whole grain cereal (for example, Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs: Kashi cereal)


Mexican Eggs: Scramble 2 eggs and top with store-bought fresh salsa, two spoonfuls of black beans (from a can, drained) and avocado slices.





Quick & Healthy California Salad: Use bagged romaine that has already been washed and chopped and add cherry tomatoes and store-bought shredded carrots. Add chopped deli turkey, one chopped hard boiled egg,  1/4 of an avocado, sliced, and light Italian dressing.  Here are some tips for making hardboiled eggs: hardboild egg recipe


1/2 Sandwich on whole wheat: Cut one slice of good quality whole wheat bread in half. Spread with hummus, mashed avocado, or olive oil mayonnaise. Add mustard to taste. Layer nitrite-free deli turkey, ham or roast beef, canned tuna or egg salad, and add your favorite veggies. One of my favorite variations of this is avocado, tomato and smoked salmon. Serve alongside chopped veggies, like celery, cucumber, jicama, broccoli or carrots.


Spicy Shrimp Lettuce Wraps: Defrost frozen cooked shrimp following the package recommendations. Fill washed romaine or butter lettuce leaves with the drained defrosted shrimp. Mix a small amount of olive oil mayonnaise with store-bough Sriracha sauce to taste and drizzle over the shrimp. Serve with fresh fruit to cool off your taste buds!


Homemade burrito: Take one large low-carb tortilla and spread with a thick layer of canned refried beans. Sprinkle with shredded Mexican cheese and microwave until the cheese is melted. Add hot sauce or fresh homemade salsa to taste, wrap and enjoy.





Try breakfast for dinner (above ideas) or any of the lunch options, or try:


Rotisserie Chicken, Roasted Yams, and Broccoli: When you pick the rotisserie chicken from the store, buy 1 garnet yam or sweet potato and a bag of chopped and washed broccoli. The broccoli can be steamed in a steamer or microwaved— it can even be roasted while you roast the yam (roasted broccoli recipe)  Preheat your oven to 400F. To roast the yam, wash it and slice it into 1/4 inch rounds, leaving the skin on. Drizzle with olive oil and arrange on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and put in into the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until tender. Enjoy with a portion of the rotisserie chicken and some broccoli. Save some leftover rotisserie chicken for short-cut chicken soup!


Short-cut Homemade chicken vegetable soup: Many grocery stores carry pre-cut “Mirepoix” (a combination of chopped onions, celery and carrots). Drizzle a little olive oil in a large pot, and add the chopped onions, celery and carrots. Sprinkle with salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, pull the leftover chicken off a rotisserie chicken and set aside. Add store-bought low-sodium chicken broth to the pot, add the chicken, and turn the heat up to high. You can add frozen green beans or chopped zucchini at this time if you like. Simmer until the veggies are tender (5-10 minutes) and serve. Craving minestrone? Add a can of chopped tomatoes and a can of drained chickpeas to the simmering soup.


Bun-less turkey burgers: Mix one pound lean ground turkey with 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Grill or sauté the burgers until no longer pink in the middle, about 5 minutes on each side. If desired, melt one slice of cheese on the burger. Meanwhile, wash a leaf of romaine and shredd, slice tomatoes and avocado.


Taco Soup: Sauté 1 pound ground turkey with diced onion and bell pepper in a large pot. Sprinkle with 1 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and add 32 ounces of tomato soup. Simmer 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare toppings: shredded lettuce or store bought shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, fresh store-bought salsa and plain greek yogurt. Serve soup in bowls and top with your favorite toppings.


Faux Spaghetti and Meatballs: Cook 1 spaghetti squash (spaghetti squash recipe). Top with store-bought no-sugar-added marinara sauce and microwaved frozen turkey meatballs. Serve with a small green salad.





Hardboiled egg, cucumber slices and store-bought hummus

Apple slices with nut butter

String cheese and 1 serving fresh fruit

A small handful of nuts

A low-sugar protein bar

No-sugar-added greek yogurt



Bon Appetite!


Lindsay Pasdera, MS RDN

Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition | Leave a comment

Back On Track with Sharon McKenzie – MAY 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.23.25 AM

Posted in After Bariatric Surgery, Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition, Obesity | Leave a comment

Essential Amino Acids and Complementary Protein


Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 4.31.16 PM

There’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to dietary protein. Meeting our protein needs through our diet is crucial to healthy eating, preservation of lean tissue, protecting metabolic rate and managing hunger and fullness hormones—all of which are essential for weight management! However, sometimes in our quest to eat healthier or lose weight, we inadvertently cut back on dietary protein to the extent that we aren’t meeting our needs for this nutrient. The good news is, a basic introduction to protein nutrition can empower you to prevent protein deficiency!

Protein 101

Proteins are long chains of amino acids joined together in a specific order, creating a unique form and function. When we eat dietary protein, our digestive tracks break down the long chains into individual amino acids, which can then be absorbed into the blood stream. There are nine essential amino acids: phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine. We can not make essential amino acids, so we must get them through our diet.

Types of Dietary Protein

There are two types of protein foods: Complete Proteins and Incomplete Proteins. Complete proteins contain an adequate amount of each of the nine essential amino acids. Animal proteins are all complete proteins. Good sources of lean animal protein include chicken, lean beef, fish and shellfish, and vegetarian options like eggs, milk, yogurt (particularly greek yogurt) and cheese. Soybean products and quinoa are two vegan sources of complete protein. Here is a list of the protein and calories in a recommended serving of various complete proteins:

Complete Protein Food Serving Size Protein/Calories per serving
Chicken breast (boneless, skinless) 3 oz 27 g / 138 kcal
95% lean ground beef 3 oz 22 g / 139 kcal
Pork Tenderloin 3 oz 22 g / 122 kcal
Salmon 3 oz 19 g / 175 kcal
Shrimp 3 oz 18 g / 84 kcal
Greek Yogurt, Plain, low-fat 6 oz 17 g / 130 kcal
Mozzarella Cheese (part-skim) 2 oz 14 g / 144 kcal
Whole Eggs 2 Large 12 g / 142 kcal
Tofu, firm 6 oz 12 g / 120 kcal
Soy veggie burger 1 patty 11 g / 124 kcal
Quinoa, cooked ½ cup 4 g /111 kcal

Most plant-based protein is incomplete protein, meaning it is inadequate in at least one essential amino acid. Legumes (beans and dried peas) are a great source of protein, but legume protein lacks the essential amino acid methionine. Whole grains can also be a good source of protein, but they lack adequate lysine. However, if you pair legumes and whole grains, the two proteins together create a complete protein, since legumes have adequate lysine and whole grains have adequate methionine. The protein in nuts or seeds can also complete whole grain protein. Refined grains, vegetables and fruit are not good sources of protein. Here is a list of protein and calories in a few incomplete proteins:

Incomplete Protein Food Serving Size Protein/Calories per serving
Black Beans ½ cup 8 g / 113 kcal
Whole Wheat Pasta ½ cup 4 g / 87 kcal
Brown Rice ½ cup 2.5 g / 108 kcal
Almonds 1 oz 6 g / 161 kcal

It is important to work with a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist to determine what amount of protein you need each day to meet your needs. It can be challenging to meet all your protein needs if you have specific foods you avoid, so some people benefit from a protein supplement, like those we carry in our office. Please don’t hesitate to call our office if we can help you learn more about your individual protein needs for good health and weight loss.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Lindsay Pasdera

Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition | Leave a comment

Waistline-friendly Italian Comfort Food


My husband and I travelled to Italy last year, and of course, the food was amazing! Italian food can be very healthful too, like this delicious, high-protein Eggplant Parmigiana recipe. If you’re craving comfort food that’s weight-loss friendly, this meal will fit the bill! It’s also a completely vegetarian meal.

Note: This dish is great when it is served with roasted sweet potatoes. Cut a medium sweet potato into 1” chunks (leave the skin on) and toss with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven with the eggplant parmigiana, 425F for about 45 minutes.

High-Protein Eggplant Parmigiana


1 Large Eggplant, sliced into 1/4” think rounds

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

15.5 oz package extra firm tofu

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 cup grated mozzarella

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 large zucchini, sliced into 1/8th” rounds

2 cups no-sugar-added marinara

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup grated parmesan


  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and arrange on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Roast for 10-12 minutes, until the eggplant is just tender. (If you want to serve with roasted sweet potatoes, prepare those now too).
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the mozzarella, ricotta, crumbled tofu, remaining 1/2 tsp salt and the pepper.
  3. Spread 3/4 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×12” glass dish. Top with half of the basil leaves.
  4. Layer half the roasted eggplant and zucchini slices and gently pat half the ricotta mixture on top.
  5. Repeat with another 3/4 cup marinara, then remaining basil, remaining eggplant and zucchini slices, remaining ricotta mixture. Top with last 1/2 cup of marinara and sprinkle with parmesan.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes in your preheated oven


Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Lindsay

1 2 3 4 5 6

Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition | Leave a comment

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 9.34.22 AM

Metabolic Syndrome is defined as a “cluster of symptoms that increase disease risk,” but it’s more useful to view meeting the diagnostic criteria for Metabolic Syndrome as a clue that an individual’s cells are becoming increasingly insulin resistant. Many health scientists agree that insulin resistance may be seen as the cause of a cascade of metabolic derangements that culminate in obesity, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. 


What is Insulin Resistance?


Most of us have heard of the hormone insulin. Insulin plays a crucial role in managing energy balance. The pancreas makes insulin and releases it into the blood stream when blood sugar levels are high. Insulin’s job is to lower blood sugar, and it does so by moving that sugar a) into functional cells where it can be used to fuel the cell’s activities and b) into fat storage cells, where the energy can be stored for later use. When we are young and healthy, our cells are very sensitive to insulin, meaning a little goes a long way. Our pancreas produces a small amount of insulin and blood glucose is normalized.


Over time, especially in individuals who eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, the cells become less sensitive to insulin. We call this insulin resistance. When cells are resistant to insulin, the beta cells in the pancreas have to produce more and more insulin to get blood sugars back down to normal levels. This results in chronically elevated insulin levels (which promotes further insulin resistance). Two immediate consequences of higher insulin levels are additional fat storage, particularly as belly fat, and physical hunger when blood sugars crash after an insulin spike. In normal physiology, a physical hunger cue is a reliable sign that our body needs more fuel. But in the metabolic derangement of insulin resistance, we can be hungry constantly, even when the body is overfed.


The long-term consequences of insulin resistance include Type II Diabetes when the beta cells of the pancreas, after years of being overworked producing very high levels of insulin, essentially get burnt out and their ability to produce insulin declines dramatically.


Measurable Symptoms of Insulin Resistance


The following are symptoms of insulin resistance. When any three of the following are present in an individual, they can be diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome.

1) Elevated waist circumference: Men — 40” or greater. Women — 35” or greater.

2) Elevated triglycerides: 150 mg/dL or higher.

3) Reduced HDL (“good”) cholesterol: Men — Less than 40 mg/dL.  Women — Less than 50 mg/dL.

4) Elevated blood pressure: 130/85 mm Hg or higher, or use of medication for hypertension.

5) Elevated fasting glucose: Equal to or greater than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or use of medication for hyperglycemia.


Research has linked Metabolic Syndrome with elevated risk of atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries), cardiac events, cardiovascular disease including stroke, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease along with cirrhosis and liver failure, certain cancers, polycystic ovary syndrome, chronic kidney disease and of course, prediabetes and Type II Diabetes.


At Healthy Steps, our weight loss program is designed to directly address insulin resistance to help minimize chronic hunger, promote weight loss and target belly fat. We approach these from a metabolic view.  Our meal plans and supplements are also specifically designed to improve triglycerides and blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugars.


Call us for a consultation with one of our registered dietitians and nutritionists.


-Lindsay Pasdera, RDN


Posted in Bariatric Surgery, BMI, Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition, Obesity | Leave a comment

Top 5 Weight Loss Tricks

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 3.33.29 PM

  1. Limit or avoid high glycemic carbohydrates.

High glycemic carbohydrates ( ) are a double whammy for weight gain: they raise insulin levels which can trigger fat storage, and they have the shortest satiety curve (meaning they actually trigger future hunger).


  1. Plan and Prep in advance.

Spend some time on your calmest day of the week planning some healthy meals and snacks you enjoy. Do as much advance prep as you can. Make a big pot of chicken vegetable soup over the weekend, or chop your favorite salad ingredients in advance so they’re ready to go when you are. Food marketers make unhealthy food quick, convenient and where ever you are…some advance prep can mean your favorite healthy foods are too.


  1. Include protein and healthy fat with each meal and snack.

These macronutrients increase long-term satiety and lower the glycemic impact of the meal, helping weight loss. Healthy fat choices include nuts and nut butters, avocado, olives and olive oil, and sources of omega-3 fatty acids including seafood.


  1. Serve your meals on a smaller plate.

Research shows we feel satisfied on less food naturally when we use a small plate. Consider switching to the salad or dessert plates that come with your dish set.


  1. Savor your food.

Slow down, eat mindfully and savor the eating experience as much as possible. Not only will you get more pleasure from your meals, but research indicates you will eat less without even trying.


– Lindsay Pasdera, RDN

Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition, Obesity | Leave a comment

Lentil Soup and Salad – by Nutritionist Cassale

IMG_1465IMG_0814 IMG_8749For dinner this evening I made a hearty lentil soup with some spinach and cilantro from my garden. I also added a side salad with a French vinaigrette to make it a complete and balanced meal. The salad was so crisp and delicious as I had just picked the leaves which were growing on my deck in planter pots, close to the kitchen where I have easy access to them. I would like to give you the recipe for the Lentils and the French Vinaigrette as both are so easy to make and I think you will love it!

Lentil Soup Ingredients

1 Tsp of olive oil

1 cup of lentils, dried

2 cups of organic chicken broth

3 cloves of garlic

1 small white onion

3 handfuls of spinach leaves

½ Tsp of dry turmeric, coriander, cumin and ginger

1 Handful of fresh cilantro



Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes

Add the lentils and then the chicken broth

Add all dry spices and spinach leaves

Simmer for 30 minutes on low heat

Add the cilantro leaves when you serve the lentils



French Vinaigrette

3 Tbs of Olive Oil

1 Tbs of Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 Tsp of Dijon Mustard

½ Tsp of honey

Salt & Pepper to taste



Mix the vinegar and mustard first, then add the olive oil – stir, then mix the honey and salt and pepper to finish!

You could prepare a large batch and keep it in the fridge for the week, which gives you a wonderful healthy salad dressing – home made!


Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition | Leave a comment

Chicken and Vegetable Soup – by Nutritionist Cassale

IMG_3845Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.13.44 PM

After a couple months of rainy weather I found some real treasures in my vegetable garden: cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, leeks, spring onions, fennel, carrots, lettuce and parsley in my herb garden.

With my findings, I decided to make a rich chicken, lentil and vegetable soup. I love making soups because the broth catches all the nutrients from the vegetables & protein and it is a great immune booster.

The vegetables in this soup provide phytonutrients that have antioxidants, anti inflammatory and liver health promoting properties. This soup will also provide you with rich sources of Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, B6, Magnesium and Fiber.

Now that the sun is out, time to start planning my Spring Garden!



1 small onion

4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

1 Tbs. of coconut oil

2 cups of spinach, chopped

1/2 cup of broccoli, diced

1/2 cup of cauliflower, diced

1/2 cup of green beans, diced

1/2 cup of carrots, diced

1/2 cup of celery, diced

1/2 cup of parsley, minced


2 chicken breast, cut into 1” cubes

1/2 cup of red lentils

1 Tbs of organic chicken bouillon

12 cups of organic chicken broth


1/2 tsp of tumeric

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste



Prepare a large pot on the stove, medium heat and fry the onion and garlic together for 3 minutes, then add all the vegetables, chicken broth, turmeric, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Just make sure there is around 1 inch of broth on top of the vegetables.

Add the diced chicken to the pot along with the lentils.

Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to low heat (simmer) for 30 minutes.


Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 2.58.44 PM

Written by Cassale Sherriff

Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition | Leave a comment