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Hello Nutrition Energy Friends!
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to undoubtedly affect our personal and professional lives, and we are working through another week of self-quarantine and social distancing, you, like us, may begin to feel a little stir crazy. While your new daily routine may be starting to normalize, this remains a stressful and challenging time for all of us.
We at Nutrition Energy are here to continue to give our support and offer a friendly reminder of the importance in maintaining structure during this hectic period of time in our lives.
We are pleased to be able to offer video sessions to both existing and new clients, in order to help support you continuing (or beginning) to work towards your health and fitness goals in the best way possible. If you, a friend or family member could use some additional and individualize help creating healthy nutrition, exercise and mindfulness habits right now, we are here to help!
Please email or call us and Brandy would be happy to check your health insurance benefits, and get you scheduled to see one of us soon. We can help you prioritize which nutrition and health habits will allow you move towards your health goals while alleviating some of the extra pressure we are all feeling right now. This is certainly a difficult time for all of us- and we will get through it together.
For our second weekly newsletter, we want to continue to focus on the three pillars of health we value here at Nutrition Energy: nutrition, movement and mindfulness/mental health. We will start by focusing on immune boosting nutrition, and have invited our friend and CEO of Previnex, David Block, to share his expertise on immune system function and health.
Part 1 - Nutrition
6 Immune Boosting Nutrients to Optimize your Health:
As Registered Dietitians, it is our belief that eating wholesome, nutrient dense food is the basis for good health. Food is medicine, and including p healthy foods throughout our daily feels even more essential now more than ever. No matter what your particular taste, cooking ability or budget, there are a variety of delicious foods that can be incorporated into your overall diet that are specifically powerful for boosting your immune system. Below is a list of some key nutrients to hone in on during this time, and foods where you will find them in abundance. Incorporating these foods into your overall diet will give your immune system optimal support during a time when we need it the most.
As always, remember to include into your diet:
- A wide variety of fruits and vegetables to maximize nutrient intake.
- Healthy fats, particularly those containing omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish, nuts and seeds.
- High quality, lean protein with every meal and snack.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that supports the immune system by helping with the formation of antibodies. It is essential for growth and repair of tissue throughout the body. It also acts as an antioxidant that fights free radicals in your body and helps to reduce inflammation. Research suggests Vitamin C may help to prevent and treat respiratory infections if they were to occur. Another fun fact - Vitamin C assists in the absorption of the iron found in plants. The bottom line is that we want to continue to focus on eating fruits and veggies, however we can get them. Try strawberries or red bell peppers in a spinach salad, lentil soup or hamburger meal for vitamin c and added iron absorption!
Where you'll find it: Citrus fruits, berries, melons, papaya, kiwi, tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, kale, spinach, cauliflower and broccoli.
2. Vitamin D
You may already be aware of Vitamin D's crucial role in maintaining bone and calcium homeostasis. But did you also know that adequate levels of this vitamin are critical for proper immune function? Vitamin D has antimicrobial properties that provide protection against pathogens in the body and allows your body to be more effective at destroying harmful organisms. Research suggests Vitamin D may also help your body fight conditions like upper respiratory diseases.
Because our body is able to convert Vitamin D when our skin is directly exposed to the sun, it can be difficult to achieve optimal Vitamin D function in the winter months, particularly living in the Northeast. We typically recommend getting your 25-OH Vitamin D level checked before deciding how much to supplement with, but currently that is not a option for most of us. Many adults are behind, and eating foods high in vitamin D is always a good idea. Supplementing with 2000 IU/day may be prudent right now.
Where you'll find it: Fatty fish, salmon, herring, sardines, cod liver oil, egg (yolks), milk and 100% juices that are fortified with vitamin D.
3. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin most widely known for its crucial role in maintaining vision. However, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory and plays regulatory roles in cellular immune responses. Research suggests Vitamin A even has a therapeutic effect in the treatment of infectious diseases and may help protect children from respiratory illnesses.
Where you'll find it:
Sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, mango, pumpkin, broccoli and tomatoes.
Zinc is an essential mineral that aids in immune function. It is necessary for the growth and development of immune cells and has anti-inflammatory actions. Zinc can be found naturally in foods or as part of supplements, sold over the counter in the form of lozenges. While it has been touted Zinc lozenges prevent viruses from replicating, research is controversial, and we prefer consuming foods rich with Zinc as the first line of defense.
Where you'll find it: Red meat, seafood (particularly oysters), poultry, pumpkin seeds, whole grain products, wheat germ, beans, nuts, tofu
Probiotics are the "good" bacteria found naturally in your gut. A healthy gut flora supports a healthy gut, which is integral to keeping your immune system strong. The "good" bacteria compete with pathogens and toxins in the body and protect the body from infection. Probiotics can be found naturally in foods or in supplements.
Probiotic supplements containing several species of good bacteria from Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus have been shown to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Where you'll find it: Cultured dairy products (i.e. yogurt, kefir, etc) and fermented foods and drinks (i.e. sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, etc)
6. Beta Glucans
Beta-glucans are types of fiber that have been shown to improve blood sugar control, cholesterol levels and boost our immune system. Particularly, they work with the innate immune system, the body's first line of defense against viruses and bacteria, interacting with immune cells and helping white blood cells bind to and kill viruses and bacteria. And that certainly sounds like something we are all very interested in right now!
Where you'll find it: Oats, barley, mushrooms, seaweed
While we're on the subject of probiotics, our favorite and one we've been recommending to clients for years is
. David Block, the CEO of Previnex, not only provided us with an article he wrote regarding boosting immunity, but graciously gave all NE newsletter readers an additional 15% off
when using the code: NutritionEnergy15.
By David Block, Chief Executive Officer, Previnex
A growing body of evidence shows that probiotic supplements with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species enhance antiviral immune activity and may reduce the occurrence, severity, and duration of viral respiratory tract infections such as influenza. Our favorite, and one that we've been recommending to clients for years, is Previnex Probiotic, which contains 30 billion bacteria per serving via six clinically effective strains across these two specific bacteria species, along with a clinically studied prebiotic, NutraFlora®, that promotes the growth and colonization of healthy probiotic bacteria in the gut.
Vitamin D is also an important immune system regulator and vitamin D supplements help boost immunity by stimulating naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides, which protect the body by destroying invading microbes. If a virus can't replicate, it helps minimize its spread and severity.
As we continue another week of this new and temporary normal, we may be finding ourselves with a strange assortment of items in our kitchen that perhaps have never been there before. If you're at a loss of what to cook, check back here every week. We'll continue to provide recipes that we hope you'll like. One of our Nutrition Energy friends, Richa, has so graciously provided an amazing and authentic Dahl recipe below. Our director, Lauren Antonucci, is planning to make it this week and will post pictures and let you know how it goes. For those of you working from home and also trying to balance your children's school and activities, we think you might also like this Rainbow Yogurt Trifle recipe (also below). We can have our children get creative and participate in the preparation and assembly of these and other dishes they enjoy. It gives them something useful and helpful to do, counts as family bonding time, and will take some pressure off us.
We'd love to see what different combinations your household comes up with, so share your final product with us on Instagram and tag us @NutritionEnergy! Feel free to also submit ideas of what recipes you would like to see in next week's newsletter!
Daal Recipe from our friend, Richa - direct from India!
A bit of background on Indian lentils (called 'daal' in Hindi)
Lentil is called 'daal' in Hindi and the tempering for the daal is called 'tadka'. Daals are rich in nutrients, include complex carbs, protein and fiber and are also shelf stable and very filling, so they are a particularly good option for "go to" comfort food meal during this time
Daal is a staple food in most Indian homes. In my home in Delhi, my mom cooks a different daal for lunch and for dinner every single day! The flavor changes based on the daal you make and the tadka you add to it. The base of most tadka is quite similar for most daal recipes and the addition and subtraction of spices changes it up. The recipe for black daal below has very basic ingredients, but if you're looking to fancy up dishes, some other Indian spices (masalas) in our kitchen include asafoetida (heeng), garam masala (mix of various spices), mango powder (amchoor), cumin powder (jeera), turmeric (haldi). Note: While turmeric is used in most Indian dishes, we don't use it in black daal to preserve the deep black color of the lentil.
While cooking lentils, the one thing to note is the cooking time. Whole lentils need longer to cook so we pre-soak and pressure cook them longer. Split lentils are faster to cook so we pre-soak and pressure cook them for a shorter time.
Here are some rough estimates for pre-soaking lentils.
-Type 1: Split Pigeon Peas, Split green gram, Whole Moong, Bengal Gram
Can soak these for 2-3 hours.
-Type 2: Kidney beans (Rajma), Chickpeas (White Channa), Urad Whole Daal (served in most Indian restaurants also known as Black Daal or Daal Makhni)
Soak for 6-8 hours or overnight. This is essential otherwise only pressure cooking them may not cook the lentils well and may not be tender from the inside, or you might have to pressure cook longer. In my experience, soaked lentils just taste better because they soak up the tempering better!
Recipe for Indian Black Daal
Brought to you by our friend, Richa Malhotra
Prep time: Can vary
Cook time: ~60m
Serving size: 1-2 people
- Black Lentils (2oz)
- 2 small tomatoes
- 2 tbsp chopped onions
- red chilli
Nice to have:
- fresh garlic
- fresh ginger (or garlic/ginger paste)
- coriander powder
- coriander leaves (cilantro)
1. Wash and Soak Daal
Wash and soak (completely submerged in water) the lentils for 6-8 hours or overnight. When ready to cook, drain out the water used to soak the lentils
2. Cook the Daal
Take a pressure cooker and fill it with 3 cups of water. Add pre-soaked lentils to the pressure cooker. Add 1 tsp of salt in the cooker, close the lid and pressure cook it on a medium flame for 20-30 minutes (or till it softens and becomes thick so that the water and daal are not separate).
3. Create the Daal Tadka (Lentil Tempering)
- Take a separate pan
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil
- Add fresh garlic and ginger or paste (if available)
- When the ginger + garlic mixture becomes light brown, add chopped onions
- Sauté the onions till brown, then add chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder (1/2 tsp), salt (to taste/can also add later) and coriander powder (1/2 tsp, if available)
- Let the tadka/tempering cook on medium heat until the tomatoes become tender and the mixture separates from the oil
4. Mix the Cooked Daal (Step #2) and the Tadka (Lentil Tempering from Step #3) and let the mixture cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the daal and the tadka are one unit. If you want the daal to be thick, you can cook for longer so more water evaporates.
5. Garnish the daal with finely chopped coriander leaves and enjoy it solo or with a slice of bread or with rice!
-You can add more salt to taste as desired
-If you can find (or make) some, add a tsp of ghee (it greatly enhances the taste)
-The pressure cooking time can vary depending on what kind of device you have - pressure cooker, insta pot, a regular stovetop pan
-Daal can be cooked on a stovetop but it will take longer)
Rainbow Yogurt Trifle Cup
- 2 ½ cups plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt
- 9 whole graham cracker sheets (yields about 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Assortment of chopped fruit: Kiwi, berries, oranges, mango, etc
Graham Cracker Crust
- Loosely break graham crackers apart and place into food processor bowl. Pulse crackers until they become a uniform powder.
- Add vanilla extract, coconut oil and honey; pulse until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. The texture will be slightly moist, and ingredients will stick together slightly when pressed.
- Pour the graham cracker crust mixture into a separate bowl and set aside.
- For one 8-ounce cup, begin by putting 2 tablespoons of graham cracker crust into the cup. Level the crust with the back of a spoon and pat down to create a more solid base.
- Spoon a little less than ¼ cup of the yogurt over the graham cracker crust. Smooth layer evenly.
- Place ¼ cup diced fruit over the yogurt
- Add 2 tablespoons of the graham cracker crust and pat down gently.
- Add a little less than ¼ cup of the yogurt w/ diced fruit and smooth layer evenly.
- Add 2 tablespoons of graham cracker crust and pat down gently.
- Add a little less than ¼ cup of the yogurt w/ diced fruit and smooth evenly.
- Eat immediately or chill and enjoy later!
- Be gentle when patting down the layers, as the crust is prone to sticking to the yogurt layer.
*Also, if you feel you are at a complete loss of what to cook, feel free to check out
www.supercook.com. You simply enter the ingredients you have in your household and different recipes will generate to include your specific ingredients.
Part 2 - Daily Movement
It is so important for all of us to continue to prioritize moving regularly! We highly recommend creating a family calendar and adding your movement time onto that schedule, so the whole household is aware. If you have a yard or park nearby and you're able to go outside, great. If not, take the opportunity indoors to start some spring-cleaning. Clean out a garage or attic if you have one. Turn some music on, vacuum and dust your moldings. Get your kids involved by asking them to sort through their clothes and toys. If you have interactive video games like Wii, challenge your family members to a game of tennis or bowling. Find workout or yoga classes online. We especially like the
7 Minute workout app, which offers a variety of free workouts, or you can sign up for a fee for additional workouts. If you have an Amazon Fire Stick, you can download the YouTube app and search for different workouts or yoga videos. All you need is a mat (or towel) and a TV.
Final reminder to stay hydrated throughout the day and while your moving! Consuming adequate fluids supports all your body's functions, including the immune system. Set a timer on your phone if necessary to remind you to drink throughout the day.
Part 3 - Mindfullness/Mental and Emotional Health
Just as we continue to focus on eating healthfully and moving regularly, we must also remember to check in with our mental health and emotions. Are you feeling stressed or anxious? During a time like this, with so much up in the air, those feelings are completely normal and you are not alone. Let's take a second to recognize it and take action to manage it. If you have a mental health professional that you've worked with before and have lost touch, now might be a good time to reach out for help and advice. You can also check with your health insurance to find therapists that are covered within your network. Many practices are now offering telehealth options so you can reach out for help straight from your living room.The CDC recommendations to mitigate stress and anxiety during this trying time are as follows:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories about the pandemic.
- Take care of yourself by stretching, meditating, deep breathing, and exercising regularly. Eat balanced meals and avoid drugs and alcohol.
- Take time to unwind. Read a book or spend time on a hobby you enjoy.
- Connect with friends and family. Call your loved ones regularly or use video calling to stay in touch.
We at Nutrition Energy believe that emotions and mental health play a crucial role in our eating habits and our overall health and wellness. We also believe mindfulness meditation, can play a role in the reduction of stress and anxiety. There is a wide range of meditation practices, such as mantra meditations, active meditations like those found in some yoga practices, and relaxation. We highly encourage you to take some time to find one that works for you. The first focus of mindfulness meditation is to remind you to take a deep breathe and focus on the present moment - think of the old, 'count to 10' your parents used to say to you when you were angry as a child. Stop and take 10 deep breathes anytime you feel stress or worry creating in. Practice putting that little bit of space and separation between you and what is stressing you. Since this is something that can be done in the comforts of your own home, you can continue to practice without feeling a need to be perfect.
If you're a meditation virgin, you might feel lost and intimidated at first - Am I doing this right? When should I do it? How long should I be doing it for? While these thoughts and feelings are normal, do not let them create stress - this is the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish. There are meditation apps that may help you to feel less lost. Insight timer is a free popular app, that allows you to pick your focus and manage the amount of time you wish to meditate for. Headspace is another popular app that contains guided meditations, sleep sounds, meditations for kids and animations to help you better understand meditation. It is $69.99 per year, but you can try it out with a free 2-week trial. Lastly, Calm is another app free of cost, with in-app purchases that provides guided meditations, soothing music and bedtime stories. All apps can be used alone or with children and are a great way to kick off or continue a mindful practice of meditation to help manage stress and anxiety - a win when it comes to self-quarantining. And remember, we are all in this together!
A Note from Lauren...
We hope you have enjoyed our second weekly installment of our COVID-19 home health weekly newsletter. Thanks to everyone who contributed (Richa and David!), and to all who reached out to us last week with questions they wanted us to cover. We will continue to try our best to put this together weekly, rather than monthly right now. Remember to please reach out to us (via email:
, by phone: 646-361-6803 or on social media:
on Twitter, and
, to let us know what you need to hear about, and we will include it in our next newsletter.
Speaking of next newsletter,
our friend, personal trainer, and owner of Priority Fitness, Ben Kessel, will be providing some great at-home workout ideas!
As always, the Dietitians at Nutrition Energy are here to support you during this difficult time, and are offering video sessions to both existing and new clients in order to help support you continuing (or beginning) to work towards your health and fitness goals in the best way possible. If you, or a friend or family member could use some additional and individualize help creating healthy nutrition, exercise and mindfulness habits right now, we are here to help!
Lauren Antonucci, Director