If I’m honest, a New Year’s Resolution is the furthest thing from my mind right now. However, might I offer a suggestion to those of you who are still Christmas shopping and also not thinking about healthy habits in 2019? Continue reading “EAT. MORE. VEGGIES.”

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



Buffalo News Refresh Blog – January 2016

Want to keep that New Year’s Resolution? Find a buddy

by: Holly R. Layer

We’re three weeks into January and I wonder how many of us have kept up with all those resolutions to be healthier in the New Year?

Studies show 75 percent of people can keep up for a week (wow, a whopping seven days!), yet fewer than 50 percent are still on track in six months.

I even made a few of my own healthy resolutions this year, including wearing my Fitbit (username: again and tracking my calories in MyFitnessPal (username: hollylayer). If you’re part of those communities, feel free to friend me!

If you’re one of the many who resolved to make health a priority this year, kudos for taking charge! The single most important part of your “get healthy” plan doesn’t have anything to do with the food you eat or how many minutes you exercise – it’s ACCOUNTABILITY.


You need a friend! Whether it’s your spouse, your co-worker, someone at the gym or your running group, anyone can help keep you motivated and accountable to your plan. Find someone with whom you can share your goals and your plan, and ask them to cheer you on and ask you hard questions, like: “Did you meet your calorie goal yesterday?” or “How many days did you exercise last week?”

Ideally, this friend is someone who shares your health goals and is even someone you can meet up with regularly to motivate each other or workout together. Can’t think of anyone? Friend me! (See my Fitbit and MyFitnessPal usernames above.) Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is your best chance at success!

OK, that was me being your like-minded accountability partner and giving you a pep talk. Now, time to put it into practice! Find someone in your sphere and ask him or her to team up with you. And while you’re riding this motivational high, resolve to step away from the mac n’ cheese next time it’s offered. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean it’s OK to binge on comfort food 24/7. Instead, think of what your body needs right now: vitamins C and D.

Vitamin C

Stock your countertop fruit bowl with citrus, which is in season right now. Oranges and grapefruit are great sources of vitamin C, which has been proven to both shorten the duration and lessen the symptoms of the common cold. However, Vitamin C can be found in other fruits and vegetables as well. In fact, some of them contain more of the vitamin than oranges themselves! Here is a list of the best sources, starting with the highest: red bell peppers (190 mg), broccoli (132 mg), cauliflower (127mg), green bell peppers (120 mg), papaya (88 mg), kale (80 mg), Brussels sprouts (75 mg) and oranges (70 mg).

Vitamin D

Because we live in a northern climate, we spend more time indoors and get less sun this time of year. Vitamin D is produced in our bodies when we’re exposed to sunlight, and it plays a role in how our bodies use the calcium in our diets. In addition to being produced in the body, vitamin D can be found in some fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy and grain products, including cereals. However, those who don’t drink milk and vegans may be at risk for a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to rickets (a softening of the bones), as well as cardiovascular disease, severe asthma and even cancer. The easiest way to get more vitamin D is to take a daily multivitamin and – despite the cold –take a walk.

Holly R. Layer is a registered dietitian and provides nutritional counseling to students at SUNY Buffalo State. She teaches cycle and fitness classes at the Southtowns Family YMCA. She holds a bachelor’s in journalism from Penn State and a bachelor’s in nutrition and dietetics from Buffalo State. 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! You can find more of her thoughts at