Buffalo News Refresh Blog – April 2016


Try These Dynamic Food Duos to Boost Your Health

by: Holly R. Layer

You’ve heard the phrase ‘two heads are better than one,’ right? Well, there are certain pairs of nutrients that work better together in our bodies than they do alone. Read over the following dynamic duos and be sure to pair them for best results!

Calcium + Inulin = better digestion, strong bones

Inulin, which is a type of fiber, both increases calcium absorption and promotes healthy bacteria in the GI tract. Calcium is found in more than just milk and yogurt; the mineral is found in canned salmon with bones, almonds, kale and broccoli. Inulin is found in artichokes, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas and whole-wheat flour. Tasty Team-Up: Whole wheat banana muffins made with yogurt, or make a salmon salad with plain greek yogurt, dill and chopped onions and asparagus.

Calcium + Vitamin D = strong bones

Vitamin D must be present in sufficient levels in the body to promote absorption of calcium, which is why a deficiency of the vitamin can lead to softening of bones. Pair sources of Calcium (above) with salmon, light tuna, sardines, egg yolk or fortified milks. Tasty Team-Up: Cooked fish and broccoli, or a two-egg omelet with cheese and kale.

Vitamin E + Vitamin C = better vision

Vitamin C helps make the Vitamin E (which helps prevent macular degeneration) you eat more ‘available’ in your body. Vitamin E is in almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ and soybeans. In addition to citrus, Vitamin C is high in bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes and potatoes. Tasty Team-Up: Add wheat germ to pancake mix, top cooked pancakes with peanut butter and sliced strawberries.

Iron + Vitamin C = increased energy

Iron carries oxygen in red blood cells all over your body, which helps prevent fatigue. Vitamin C helps iron from plant sources be absorbed in the body. Find iron in meat and eggs, as well as spinach, oatmeal, tofu, quinoa and beans. Tasty Team-Up: Cook quinoa and mix in orange segments, chopped bell pepper, black beans, drizzle with olive oil and orange juice.

Vitamin K + Fat = healthy heart

Healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3’s) help us lower our cholesterol and absorb certain vitamins, like K. ‘Good’ fats are all kinds of nuts, olive oils and avocado. Vitamin K is high in greens (spinach, chard, kale), broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Tasty Team-Up: Halve Brussels sprouts and roast with olive oil, toss onto a kale salad with walnuts and dried cranberries and balsamic vinaigrette.

Vitamin A + Fat = good skin

Vitamin A is another vitamin that needs fat to be absorbed in the body, and it promotes healthy immune and reproductive systems as well as clear skin. Sources of beta-carotene (which turns into Vitamin A) are orange fruits and vegetables, like carrots, apricots and sweet potatoes, as well as kale and spinach. Tasty Team-Up: Toss spinach leaves, shredded carrots, cubed cooked sweet potatoes and chopped avocados with olive oil and lemon juice.

Zinc + Sulfur Compounds = better immune system

Zinc plays a role in wound healing and a healthy immune system, and sulfur compounds found in onions and garlic increases the body’s absorption of the mineral. Whole wheat, brown rice and legumes are good sources of zinc. Tasty Team-Up: Cooked brown rice tossed with chopped garlic, onion, black beans, tomatoes and green peppers dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.

BONUS: Mitigate Your Mistakes!

Too Much Salt, Have POTASSIUM

Perhaps you had a canned soup for lunch, or Chinese take-out for dinner. Both of these meals are very high in sodium, but by eating potassium-rich foods, you can lessen the effects on your blood pressure. Lots of fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, but the best are spinach, sweet and white potatoes, kale, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, artichokes, bananas, grapefruit, apricots, avocados and beets. Fish, milk and yogurt are also high in potassium. The Fix: Pack a banana along with a low-sodium canned soup for work, or make your own stir-fry at home and load it up with veggies.

Too Much Bread, Have VINEGAR

Just 2 teaspoons of vinegar can help lessen the rise in blood sugar after eating foods high in carbohydrates. If you have or are at risk for diabetes, consider adding a bit of vinegar to each meal with lots of carb-y foods, like breads, cookies and crackers. The Fix: Use a vinaigrette on your salad or as a dressing for cooked chicken.

Adapted from a Nov. 17, 2011 Women’s Day article by Joy Bauer, RD.


Holly R. Layer is a Registered Dietitian and provides nutritional counseling to students at Buffalo State College, and teaches fitness classes at the Southtowns YMCA. She has a B.A. in Journalism from Penn State and a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Buffalo State College. She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related.  An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy.  Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive!  In addition to writing for the East Aurora Advertiser, you can find her at www.thehealthypineapple.com.




Today was Day 1 of my first Whole30.

-no SUGAR (unless it’s in a fruit or vegetable)

-no grains

-no dairy

-no legumes

-no alcohol

*There are a few other things on the ‘no-no’ list, like MSG and sulfites, but suffice it to say it’s basically Paleo on steroids.  Super restrictive.  Probably the only way I’ll curb my sweet tooth.

*Note: As a dietitian, I’m always wary of any eating plan that removes entire food groups.  However, by eating a varied selection of fruits and vegetables, a person can get all the nutrients grains and dairy provide.  Additionally, grains and dairy are often over-consumed in high-calorie, nutrient-poor forms (think crackers and ice cream) by many people, which doesn’t lead to optimum body weight or health.  Therefore, removing those two food groups isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds.  Difficult, yes.  Impossible, no. Lastly, the Whole30 removes these food groups for specific reasons (explained in-depth in the book) and also REINTRODUCES them after 30 days so individuals can assess their impact for themselves. End note.*

I’m super excited, even though I know it’s going to be really difficult sometimes.  A few years ago, I skimmed through Melissa Hartwig’s book, It Starts With Food, and thought ‘hell no!’ and slammed the book shut.

However, a few weeks ago, after seeing it mentioned somewhere on social media, it was all I could think about.  It’s amazing how different seasons of life change our perspectives.

The truth is, I’ve known for awhile now that I’ve needed a change.  A reset.  A shock to my system.  It’s been four years since I’ve been happy with how I look (thanks, school, for negatively impacting my body through stress…NOT), and more recently, I’ve realized how badly I feel when I overeat/eat certain things.  While I eat a lot of healthy foods, I also have about zero willpower when it comes to sweets.

(The recent blog re-org and trip down memory lane while reading past posts reminded me how great I feel when I’m eating better, not to mention how great I looked a few years ago. Sigh.)

These last couple months have been a double-whammy for me in terms of my health and routine.  First, I’ve been experiencing pain in my lower back since January (recently diagnosed as a bulging disc by an MRI) and an inflamed nerve in my elbow, both of which sidelined me from my usual high-intensity workouts and weight-lifting sessions.  (The cause: all that heavy lifting and landscaping last summer.  Boo.) At the same time, I’ve been stressed and splurging on sugary treats even more since my gym time decreased.  Go figure.

All that to say, I’ve been slowly accepting that I need to take charge over my diet in order to feel better–physically and mentally.  On a sleepless night Easter weekend, I read up on the entire Whole30 plan by the light of my phone and committed right then and there that I would start soon.

The next morning I asked Andrew if he’d do the Whole30 with me (lucky for him, he loves meat, hates cheese and beans, doesn’t do a lot of dairy and doesn’t crave sweets) and he agreed.  I bought the books that night and pored over them all Easter weekend, hopefully not at the expense of spending quality time with family–sorry, grandma!

As I said before, I’m really excited, because I know in my heart it’s what I need to get back on track.  I really DO love being healthy and fit, so I need to stop letting sugar win and take back control of what I eat.  In essence, I need to practice what I preach!

For extra motivation, I’m re-reading the Made to Crave devotional, on which I relied heavily a few years ago on a weight-loss journey.

I won’t be blogging what I eat every day throughout this 30-day period (like I did with our Paleo Challenge last year), but I will post some photos on Instagram (username: hollyrlayer).  I will, however, be posting a book review of It Starts With Food (not to mention all the other ‘diet’ books I’ve read) and perhaps some topical posts based on the program, like how to get calcium without eating dairy.  (You can, and it’s easy!)