Food and Nutrition Apps Galore!

September 4th, 2013

With kids back in school, afternoon activities, business travel, and the start of football season, September is one busy month! With a jammed packed schedule it can be challenging to “get it all in” and stay focused on your health. However, with the use of the right apps, you can keep track of your progress and simplify your path to healthier living! In this month’s newsletter, I have shared a few of my favorite nutrition, fitness, recipe, and speciality apps that make living a healthy life easier. I have suggested these apps on a variety of factors, and encourage you to explore what is right for you and your goals.

- Constance

Click here to read my September Newsletter – Food and Nutrition Apps!

Sweet Substitutions

April 21st, 2013
                                                 Are you confused about the best “sweetener” to use? Everywhere you look, there seems to be talk about sugar and sugar substitutes.  This month in Eating Soulfully I am clarifying the confusion for you and providing a simple breakdown of the newest plant based sweeteners as well as some of the popular alternatives to sugar and how they can be used.
Click here to read about Sweet Substitutions
Did you miss me?  Yes, it’s been a minute since my last post.  But I won’t bore you with the details of why.  Just know I’m back with more great content to inspire you to Live Well With Diabetes.

Diabetes Myths and Misinformation

November 26th, 2012

Are you listening to old-wives’ tales or Uncle Pookie’s take on the best way to manage diabetes? Here are some common myths about diabetes – along with the facts. The more you know for sure, the better able you will be to successfully manage the disease.

Myth:  If you eat too many sweets, you’ll get diabetes.

Fact:    Diabetes isn’t caused by eating too much sugar; it’s caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. However, eating foods high in   sugar, fat, and calories can cause you to become overweight, which increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Myth:  Type 1 diabetes is more serious than type 2 diabetes.

Fact:    All types of diabetes are serious. Type 1 and type 2 involve elevated blood glucose levels which can lead to serious complications such as nerve damage, foot ulcers, amputation, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and blindness.

Myth: If you don’t take diabetes medicine, your diabetes must not be serious.

Fact:    Not everyone who has diabetes takes medicine for it. If your body produces some insulin, losing weight, adopting healthy eating, and getting regular physical activity can help insulin work more effectively. However, even if you don’t take medicine now, you need to keep a close eye on your condition. Diabetes does change through time, and diabetes medicine may be needed later.

Myth: If you get diabetes, insulin will cure it.

Fact:    Insulin doesn’t cure diabetes. It helps to control diabetes by keeping the blood glucose from rising. At this point, there is no cure, only medicines and lifestyle changes that can help you manage it better.

Myth: If you have diabetes you can expect to lose your sight and limbs eventually.

Fact:    Having diabetes doesn’t mean you’re doomed to sightlessness or amputations. Keeping your diabetes under control can prevent the most serious complications.

Myth: Dessert is off limits if you have diabetes.

Fact:    While eating too many sugary foods is not a good idea, you can have an occasional dessert. It should be counted as part of your total carbohydrate intake for the day. Meaning, if you plan to have a piece of wedding cake, limit the bread, potatos, and other carbs you eat that day.

Myth: If you love bread, potatoes, and pasta, you’re out of luck. Carbs and starches are off-limits if you have diabetes.

Fact:    Carbohydrates and starches are part of a healthy diet—even for people with diabetes. You have to control your portions, but you can enjoy a nice pasta salad or a few potatoes if you like.

Myth: You can cure diabetes with the right diet.

Fact:    A healthy diet and exercise can reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, but once you have it, you have it. Diabetes is a lifelong disease that has no cure. However, with proper management (that includes that healthy diet again) it can be well controlled.

Click here to read more about reversing diabetes.


September 18th, 2012

Week 5 – What’s in the box series.

Just as Stymie of the little rascals proclaimed his love of this summertime fruit (I know I am dating myself), I guess you could say loving watermelon is universal.

No other fruit says summertime more than watermelon. So if you want to quench your thirst and re-boost your body with anti-oxidants lycopene, vitamin A and vitamin C, watermelon has everything you need.

Wonderfully delicious, melons are a great source of potassium too.

Related  to the cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin, watermelon is in the Cucurbitaceae family. Naturally low in calories, one cup provides just 46 calories.

Last week there was a small, cantaloupe size, seedless, red watermelon in the box and this week a full size yellow watermelon! It was incredibly crunchy, subtly sweeter, and had a more honey like taste than the other varieties I have had. As we have been eating this delicious melon all summer by the forkfuls, I wanted to find something a little more interesting to do with this hard to find special melon.

The first time I had gazpacho was in my early twenties on a trip with a friend to Williamsburg, Va. I can remember the heat being unbearably oppressive when we sat down for lunch.  Always adventurous, even then, I wanted to try this “cold cucumber soup”.  It was unbelievably cool and refreshing.

Originating in Spain, gazpacho is traditionally a tomato, vegetable soup served cold. So when I saw a recipe for watermelon gazpacho with cucumber and tomato, I knew this was something I had to try. I combined two recipes, one taken from Bon Appétit magazine and one from Eating Well and made it my own – which is something I often do. I added more basil, substituted honey for sugar, added more tomato, left out the olive oil and finally, substituted basil syrup for vinegar:

Watermelon Gazpacho

2 cups basil leaves

4 whole cloves

2 whole star anise

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar

1 ½ cups water

Place all of the ingredients above in a saucepan, boil, remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes.  Let cool and then strain.

7 cups seedless watermelon 1” pieces (I used the yellow melon from the box)

1 cucumber peeled, seeded, cut in 1” pieces (from the box)

½ red pepper diced

¼ cup basil (from the box)

¼ cup parsley

1 cup peeled, seeded diced tomatoes (from the box)

½ tsp salt

½ cup fresh lime juice

Ground fresh pepper

Make two shallow cuts through the skin at the bottom of the tomatoes.  Put in a pot of boiling water until skin lifts.  Run cold water over the pot until cool.  Peel and seed the tomatoes and dice.

Combine rest of ingredients as well as the syrup in a blender or food processor (you may have to blend in batches), until smooth.  Divide gazpacho among 6 bowls, garnish with pepper and torn basil leaves.

Per serving without olive oil:  111 calories, 1.3g fat, 206mg sodium, 26.6g carbohydrates, 10.6g fiber, 10.3g sugar, 4.6g protein

This gazpacho was unexpectedly delectable, both sweet and savory, and refreshing. I may add a jalapeño next time, I think it could have used a little kick, but we absolutely loved it and I think you will too!

So now the rest of the box.  String beans were sautéed with those amazingly crisp, pop in  your mouth sun gold cherry tomatoes.

I was so excited to get more arugula; I thought that would be finished for the summer!!  My favorite way to eat arugula is to shave Parmesan reggiano cheese on top, cut up more of those  sun golds , squeeze fresh lemon, extra virgin olive oil, and  fresh ground pepper. Delish!!  Oh, and all those tomatoes, more about them next week.

Until next week, eat and savor the rest of your summertime veggies…



August 20th, 2012

Week four – What are these Walla Walla onions in the box?

I was curious as I had never heard of them before, have you? Going to I found the story of the Walla Walla Sweet onion.  A French soldier found one of these onion seeds on an island in Italy and brought it back to the Walla Walla Valley in Washington State to cultivate over a century ago.

They are a sweet onion variety with a low sulfur and high water content, making them mild and great in many dishes. I did take a bite raw as they suggest and although they say it is so sweet you can eat it like an apple, I probably would not do it again – I found them tough. However, they are indeed, the sweetest onion I have ever tasted!

Onions belong to the lily family along with garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots.  They are rich in the powerful compound diallyl sulfide, which gives them their strong smell and helps prevent cancer by blocking the effects of carcinogens in the body.  They also contain numerous flavonoids, such as quercetin – which are antioxidant compounds that help prevent blood clots and protect against heart disease and cancer.  This vegetable also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action.  In addition, onions are very rich in chromium, a trace mineral that helps cells respond to insulin, and are a good source of vitamin C and other trace elements.   But proceed with caution when cooking these onions. High heat will destroy a large percentage of all those beneficial compounds. So, we cut them in half and grilled them very quickly, just a minute or two, with a brush of oil and pepper.

Amazing!  Mouth watering, crunchy and soooo sweet.  They brought back memories of the tender, creamed pearl onions my mom always made for Thanksgiving that I loved as a child.


I have to thank my friend Joanne, as well as the abundant cucumbers in the box, for the cucumber cocktails that I have been enjoying all summer.  She turned me on to this incredibly clean, crisp, pure and refreshing tasting vodka, with the essence of freshly sliced cucumbers.  With the crushed up crunchy cucumber, a little seltzer, and a squeeze of fresh lime, I actually feel healthy drinking this!

Remember, if your diabetes is not in good control you should avoid drinking alcohol. If you do choose to drink, make sure it’s not on an empty stomach.  Additionally, alcohol can cause hypoglycemia – particularly if you use insulin, so you’ll need to check your blood glucose more frequently.

This wonderful low calorie vegetable indeed has more nutrients to offer than just water and electrolytes.  It contains unique anti-oxidants in good ratios such as B-carotene and a-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A, zea-xanthin and lutein.  They also have a mild diuretic property due to their high water and potassium content, which helps in checking weight gain and blood pressure.  I was surprised to learn they have a high amount of vitamin K which has been found to have a potential role in bone strength and in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease!

So here’s the just 100 calorie, nutritious, pure, and clean healthy girl cocktail:

Crop Certified Organic Cucumber Vodka 1.5 oz. (infused flavors avoid the sugar content of artificially flavored liquor

1 oz. cucumber (a few slices, low calories high water content for hydration, alkalinity neutralizes acids in body

Fresh mint

4 oz. club soda (plain or lemon lime flavored)

Squeeze of fresh lime

Muddle mint and cucumber in bottom of a shaker glass, add vodka, soda and lime juice. Add ice, shake, strain and garnish with a cucumber slices, mint and add more ice!  100 calories, 0 fat, 25mg sodium, 2g total carbohydrates, 1g sugar.

So if you feel like indulging, this is the way to go!!  You could also add a little beet juice, green tea or agave if you like, but that would change the nutritionals.

So what did I do with the rest of the box this week? I roasted the cabbage in the toaster oven with a spritz of olive oil and pepper (I loved it this way), added the potatoes to a pasta dish, made tomato salad and ate the sweet tender baby watermelon alone.


I only allowed a piece or two for my husband. Ha!

Next week I am thinking of a watermelon gazpacho and I will have to think of something to do with all these tomatoes!!

So, until next week eat and enjoy your veggies…





Tuscan Ribolitta – Yum!

August 15th, 2012

Week three – What’s In the Box? Authentic Tuscan Ribolitta!

My friend Debbie and I are not your typical students.  We are both women that went back to school mid-life and have adult children.  So when she asked me to study abroad in Florence two summers ago, I knew it was now or never.  We lived with an Italian family, cooked with grandma and walked to class every day for a month.  We traveled on the weekends and tried to eat everywhere we could.  We both became obsessed with Tuscan Ribollita.

There is a specific black cabbage that is used for this peasant soup and I searched high and low for it for Christmas one year and was told it appears only once a year and in very limited supplies.  So you can understand my excitement this summer when I found Toscano Kale in the box not once, not twice, but three times!!

The prized Tuscan specialty referred to as “cavolo nero” or black cabbage in English is a cross between cabbage and kale, and is abundantly available in Tuscany where it is used in soups and stews.  Researchers believe it may have been grown as a food crop as early as 2000 B.C.  Low in calories and a member of the Crucifer or mustard family, Toscano kale offers vitamin C, folic acid, calcium and potassium.  This particular variety has more than twice the levels of carotene and lutein, two phytonutrients which act as antioxidants, compared to other varieties.

Ribolitta (serves 6)

1 onion, chopped

1 leek, sliced

2 carrots, diced

17 oz black cabbage, shredded (I used the bunch from the box)

2 celery stalks chopped

1 bouillon cube (I use a 32oz. box of organic low sodium chicken broth)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. tomato paste (I used 2 Tablespoons)

250 gr (8oz) cooked white beans, ½ pureed and ½ left whole

Salt and pepper (I don’t add salt but add a little Romano at the end)

17 oz of Tuscan stale bread (I used whole wheat) cubed

Heat oil; add onion and leek and sauté until golden.  Add remaining vegetables and pepper and stir well.  Cover and cook until reduced by half of the original volume.  Add tomato paste, bouillon cube (or chicken broth) and water, if you use the bouillon cube, (the more water you add the less dense the soup will be), and bring to a boil.   Lower the heat and cool for at least an hour.  Add the stale bread; mix well and bring to a boil again.  Serve warm with a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil and Romano cheese.

Recipe from Food, Culture & Society

Calories per serving: 198 calories, 28g carbohydrates, 7g total fat, 1.25g saturated fat, 335mg sodium, 3g fiber, 6g protein

Hope your family likes it as much as mine does.  For Debbie and I, it reminds us of a special time, in a special place, and of the once in a lifetime experience that we shared.

So how did we enjoy the rest of what was in the box? We grilled the Walla Walla onions (more about those next week) and fennel, made cucumber vodka cocktails (100 calories!) with my cucumbers also dipped them in hummus and ate them in my salad.  The sun gold tomatoes went in my whole wheat, avocado, arugula pesto pasta salad – so delish. That baby watermelon was sooo sweet (also more about this great summertime fruit next week)!

Until next time, enjoy your vegetables!


White Beans and Cabbage Soup

August 5th, 2012

Fresh Cabbage From "The Box"



While green cabbage is the most commonly eaten variety of cabbage, I guess you could say it is not that common  in our house and is only eaten once a year on St. Patrick’s Day. I was stumped all week trying to figure out what to do with this vegetable.

Other than corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, the only other type I have ever had was red cabbage with the traditional pot roast dinner. This happens to be my family’s most requested meal and favorite, except for my daughter Katelyn who refuses to eat the pot roast! I am not that crazy for it either, although we do love the sweet red cabbage.

As I researched cabbage, I found not only is it a very economical vegetable that is easy to find, but gives a huge nutritional bang for your buck. It possesses phytochemicals including sulforaphane, which studies suggest protects the body against cancer-causing free radicals, and indoles, which help metabolize estrogens. It is also an excellent source of vitamins K and C and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate, manganese and Omega 3 fatty acids. Cabbage is in the Cruciferae family along with kale, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts. The best part is it only has 31 calories for a cooked cup! Maybe I should eat more of this vegetable!

Instead of the traditional cole slaw made with green cabbage, I wanted to find something a bit more interesting to make.  I asked the aides that do an amazing job at taking care of my parents, what they do with their cabbage; Margaret roasts it in the oven and Bernice steams it. While looking for a recipe, I saw so many for cole slaw, stuffed cabbage, a cabbage tart, yuck, and a stir fry. I wanted to come up with something that would pair nicely with the chicken parmesan I was making, topped with the grilled eggplant and zucchini from the box. I came across a baked white bean with cabbage soup/stew that calls for a rind from a Parmesan cheese instead of a ham bone.  And I changed a few other things:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (I used a Walla Walla onion from the box)

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 green frying pepper (from the box)

1 head of green cabbage cored and chopped (from the box)

4 garlic cloves, minced (from the box last week)

1 pound (1 bag) cannellini beans

8 cups water

1 Parmesan rind

Parsley and thyme sprigs and a bay leaf wrapped in cheesecloth and tied

Salt and pepper

Chopped parsley, fresh thyme

In a heated ovenproof casserole, I sautéed the onion, carrot and pepper about 5 minutes, stirred in the cabbage and garlic. Then, I cooked for another 5 minutes.

I added the beans, water, rind, cheesecloth and pepper. I don’t add salt (my husband’s has high blood pressure); I let everyone salt their own food to taste. I baked the casserole in a 325 degree oven for 2-3 hours until the beans were tender. I removed the rind and cheesecloth, adjusted the seasoning and added parsley and fresh thyme. This was supposed to be 6 servings but it makes so much more than that. I’d say about 12 servings.

Nutritional information per serving – based on 12 servings: 165 calories; 2.5 grams fat; .5 gram saturated fat;  0 mg cholesterol; 28 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 22 mg sodium; 9.5 grams protein.

It turned out creamy, it was hearty, had intense flavor, and went well with the rest of the meal. Our favorite part was dipping the whole wheat, thick, crusty, artisan round bread, that I got from the new farmers market in my town, in the broth (my dad calls them manhole covers)!  I look forward to trying other methods of preparing cabbage as well.

What did I do with the rest of my goodies? Well the cucumbers, soooo crunchy, went in my salads all week, the zucchini and red potatoes in our Sunday eggs as well as for dinner one night. The zucchini is so fresh that the outside skin is smooth to the touch and unblemished. I needed additional eggplant so I went out to my own garden to look and was surprised to find both baby purple and white eggplant, as well as many zucchini squash flowers. I was thrilled to find enough orange cherry tomatoes and string beans for Sunday night dinner.

Til next week….

What’s In The Box?

July 26th, 2012

Ever since being awarded an internship at the first certified organic restaurant in the United States, and harvesting and eating the produce at the farm that supplied the restaurant, Madeline Basler wanted to become a part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to Madeline, my new dietetic intern.  Madeline will provide a weekly update on her CSA deliveries, share delicious recipes and of course include some important nutrient facts.

So let’s get started!!

The CSA program is a partnership between the farmer and its members.  In return for an annual membership fee the members receive a weekly share of the highest quality organically grown harvest during the local growing season.  Although it seems expensive ($556), the breakdown comes down to approximately 20 dollars a week for the 26 weeks!   I don’t know about you, but I know I spend at least that on my produce.   Some farms, like the one I belong to, allow you to pay in two or three installments, which if you are like me that can help plenty! Some offer milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs meat and seafood.  Our farm offers a fruit share from a local fruit farm.

When members obtain food from local farmers they are directly supporting small family farms in their community as well as receiving the freshest available produce.  It is the idea that members support their farmer by sharing in the inherent risks of agriculture (poor weather, disease, early frost, drought, crop failure etc) as well as the rewards of the harvest.  The advantage to the farmer is being able to market their produce before their long days begin and receive upfront capital to grow and manage the farm. There is also the conversation between farmer and member which builds community and personal connections around food.

Every Monday night I think about what might be in the box the next day and I know this sounds crazy, but I actually get excited to be surprised by what I might find and what I will make with it!  I drive to a private residence five minutes from my home with my own bag and open the box.  I am always in awe of the amount of fresh, dripping wet, bright green, red, and purple delicious produce that waits for me in the box.  The last few weeks, I have gotten fennel, beets, kohlrabi and assortments of the crunchiest lettuce I have ever tasted!


I don’t know until I pull up to the house sometime after twelve noon (a newsletter gets sent but not until after I leave in the morning). As I enter the garage the boxes are stacked high and I grab the clipboard and sign my name indicating I have taken my share.  I open the closest box.

Yes!  More cucumbers (they were so good last week), and more onions (grilled the cipollini onions last night and they were the sweetest I had ever had) and more zucchini, YUM.  Oh and all new things, green cabbage, Asian eggplant,  bell pepper, green long peppers,  red potatoes and basil.  I wish there was more lettuce and although I have my own basil and eggplant I could always use more.   I carefully remove my goodies and fold the box for reuse and am on my way home to lay it out and take pictures to send to my envious friends and excited family.   Now the washing begins and the question is what am I having for dinner? I know my husband will love those little red potatoes they are his favorite.  My daughter, Aly loves eggplant so I will do something with that as well, maybe eggplant parmesan.  I will also check the newsletter and see their suggestions and recipes. I will have to get creative with that cabbage.

My family has found out they love kohlrabi and Swiss chard and I am so happy to be able to make my Tuscan ribolitta soup with the Tuscan kale.  The way a fresh onion peels with little help and without a knife, and the taste of a carrot that was pulled out of the ground possibly the same day; I don’t think I ever knew what a fresh carrot tasted like.  I was beginning to think I no longer liked carrots!!  It is like we are experiencing these vegetables for the first time.  So what am I making tonight and what am I doing with these?   I am still thinking about it.  I will let you know next time how the week with my fresh goodies went.

Until then, if you are interested in joining a CSA you can go to national web sites like Local Harvest to search for a program near you. I think every week you will be happy to find your very own surprises in your box!  Enjoy!!


Hot Fun in the Summer Time

June 21st, 2012

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in New York City are expected to reach 98 degrees today with a heat index as high as 101.

These extreme temperatures can be especially challenging when you have diabetes.

Are you summer safety savvy?

Make sure you know how to stay safe in the heat.

Click here  to test your summer safety smarts and keep the fun in summer!

Delicious Guilt Free Grilling

May 27th, 2012

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and the beginning of the grilling season.

Grilling is one of the simplest and healthiest ways to prepare a meal. In a matter of minutes you can grill up a culinary delight. Most people think ribs are synonymous with the grill, but pork tenderloin is one of the grill’s best-kept secrets. Pork tenderloin requires less cooking time than ribs and is the leanest cut of pork with only 2.98 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, making it as lean as skinless chicken breast – and why it’s dubbed the other white meat.

Grilling also maintains the natural tenderness and flavor of meats without sacrificing essential nutrients. Today, propane and charcoal grills include vents that can be adjusted to allow air and moisture to circulate which help control the smoky flavor.

Reduce Sodium and Boost Flavor

Sodium free spices are a great way to enhance the flavor without bringing additional fat and calories to the table.

  • Ground black pepper and prepared spices blends like Mrs. Dash are great alternatives to salt. A variety of spice blends work well with pork’s mild flavor.
  • Spices with bold flavors like cumin, coriander and cayenne work great with pork. Rubs can be applied just before grilling or the night before cooking.
  • Rosemary and cinnamon are great flavor enhancers and increase flavor intensity especially in pork.

Marinades are another great way to enhance flavor and show off your creativity – you know a pinch of this and a dash of that.

  • Skip heavy, sugar-based marinades – most are loaded with extra calories and can increase the chance for charring.
  • Vinegar mixtures, like Italian dressing, can reduce the risk of carcinogen formation on any grilled meat. Citrus juice, herbs, spices, and olive oil make great ingredients for marinades.
  • Pair pork with fresh fruits and vegetables to brighten and lighten up summertime meals. Beta carotene, an essential antioxidant, can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots and many leafy greens such as cabbage, kale and spinach. If you are looking to kick up the fiber intake a notch, add sliced apples, strawberries or prunes to your grilling skewer or pork tenderloin salad.

Cajun Grilled Pork Chops


4 boneless center loin chops, 1 1/2-inch thick
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry sage
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Combine seasonings, mix well. Coat chops with seasoning mixture. Grill directly over medium-high heat 6-8 minutes per side, turning once until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a 3-minute rest time.

Serves 4

Serving Suggestions:

Spices are a great way to add bold flavor without adding fat. Serve with a light Okra Corn Salad and Baked Grits Wedges.


Calories: 150
Protein: 22 grams
Fat: 5 grams
Sodium: 390 milligrams
Cholesterol: 65 milligrams
Saturated Fat: 1 grams
Carbohydrates: 2 grams
Fiber: 0 grams

Don’t overcook your pork! The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines state,  pork can be safely cooked to medium rare at a final internal cooked temperature of 145 degrees F. as measured by   a food thermometer, followed by a three-minute rest time. Ground pork, like all ground meats, should be cooked to 160 degrees F.