The Daily Grind: Caffeine Consumption

April 5, 2017

by:  Emily Nice, RD, LD

April showers bring… slow-moving hours! Rainy days and dreary Mondays tend to hit pretty hard at times, especially if you miss out on your morning cup of coffee. Sometimes, we really need that extra boost caffeine can provide, but how much is too much?

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 400mg of caffeine daily. Average American caffeine consumption remains within this recommendation; however, it is important to note that these guidelines are reflective of adults without any serious medical conditions which may require more restrictive intakes. Approximately 95% of American adults consume caffeine, mostly coming from coffee and tea intake. The American Heart Association recommends keeping coffee intake at or below 1-2 cups daily. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee varies between different brands/styles, and just one 8 ounce cup of coffee may contain approximately 95-200mg of caffeine.

Depending on how you take your coffee or tea, you may be adding more empty calories to your diet than you realize as well. Additives are often unaccounted for or missed when recounting what has been consumed for the day. It is also common to pair these beverages with high calorie pastries and snacks, which may contain large amounts of both sugar and fat. These habits could negatively impact your blood sugar control and/or your efforts to lose weight.

After a long day, a warm caffeinated beverage may provide a comforting pick-me-up, but this may also influence poor sleep if consumed before bed or too late in the day. Restlessness or poor quality sleep may lead to higher blood glucose levels, making a good night’s sleep especially important in controlling your blood sugar. Pay attention to your body and make sleep a priority.

Caffeinated beverages and foods can fit into a well-balanced diet if consumed in moderation. If your daily caffeine intake is reaching or exceeding the limit, you may want to cut back. Make sure to watch your portion sizes and be sure to account for any added cream or sugar you may be enjoying. Pay attention to the types of food you choose to accommodate your drink, and be careful not to indulge too late in the day to allow time for good quality sleep at night.

From a little morning inspiration to a quick pick-me-up in the early afternoon, a reasonable caffeine fix can fit into a healthy lifestyle.






2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
American Heart Association – August 2015
Food & Nutrition – March 2017
Diabetes Forecast – July 2016

Carbohydrate Counting Tips for the New Year

January 3, 2017

By Alison Brinker, RD, LD, CDE

Research shows that counting carbohydrates is important for good glucose control.   However, it can get a little tricky at times………pizza, salads, casseroles.  All those combination foods can be difficult.  Following are some tips that may help make counting your carbs a bit easier.

Hot dishes made with pasta or grains such as tuna noodle casserole or lasagna have about 30 grams of carbohydrate per cup. Using a measuring cup is most accurate, but if you can’t measure a cup is about the size of a woman’s fist.  Stews or Asian-style meals that are a mix of meat and vegetables in a savory sauce are about 15 grams of carb per cup.  Keep in mind that measuring foods at home will help you better estimate portion sizes when eating out.

Broth-based soups and cream soups made with water are about 15 grams of carb per cup. If it is a hearty soup you could eat with a fork or if it is loaded with noodles or beans estimate about 30 grams of carb for one cup.

If you are at a potluck think about the size of the serving spoon. Four level tablespoons is about ¼ cup.  This amount of baked beans, for example is about 15 grams of carbohydrate.  Baked beans are a starchy vegetable and most likely have molasses or brown sugar as an ingredient.  A larger serving spoon is about ¼ cup per scoop.  Two of these larger spoonfuls of corn or another starchy vegetable will be about a ½ cup or 15 grams of carb.

Not all salads are created equal when it comes to carbs. One cup of a leafy green salad has only 2-5 grams of carb compared to creamy coleslaw that has 15 grams carb for a ½ cup portion.  Potato salads and pasta salads often have sugar in the dressing so count those as 30 grams of carb for a ½ cup portion.

Think of pizza in terms of the crust. Thin crust is going to have much lower carb content than hand tossed or pan pizza.  1/8 of a 12 inch thin crust pizza has about 15 grams of carb.  You should add about 5-10 grams of carb per slice if you have a hand tossed crust or pan pizza.

Be careful with the items offered free to the table at some restaurants. Most rolls, bread slices and bread sticks are 15 grams of carb per serving.  Twelve tortilla chips are also about 15 grams of carb.  Even though the salsa is a free item and is very low in carbs, the chips can add up quickly.

Fruit smoothies, although they sound healthy, can have just as much carbohydrate as a can of regular soda. Some smoothies average 45 grams of carb in a 12 oz. portion which is just as much as a regular soda.  If you choose a smoothie as a quick breakfast option measure your ingredients separately as you add to the blender to ensure your carb count is accurate.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Below is a chicken chili recipe for the crockpot.  It is easy to prepare, great for a cold winter night and about 30 grams of carb for a 1 cup portion.  Carbohydrate is found in the white beans which are also a wonderful source of fiber.  Top your chili with diced avocado to add some healthy monounsaturated fat.  Enjoy!


Slow Cooker White Chili with Chicken

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ pound dried Great Northern Beans

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup chopped onion

2 4-ounce cans chopped green chiles, undrained

Chopped fresh cilantro, chopped avocado, chopped tomato (optional for serving)

The evening before you plan to make the chili soak beans in a large container covered with water for at least 8 hours or overnight. Place beans along with chicken, onion, broth, chopped chiles and seasonings into the crockpot.  Stir to mix the ingredients.  Cook on high 4-6 hours or on low 8-10 hours.  Remove chicken from the crockpot and using 2 forks shred the chicken, return chicken to the crockpot and mix well.   Serve chili topped with cilantro, avocado and tomato if desired.

30 grams carbohydrate per 1 cup portion


Source:  The recipe was modified using the White Chicken Chili on the Everyday Essential Great Northern Bean package and Slow Cooker White Chili with Chicken on


September Recipe of the Month

September 16, 2016

by Alison Brinker, RD, LD

Labor Day, the official last day of summer has come and gone, but don’t put the grill away yet! Late summer and early fall is a great time to be outside walking and cooking up a delicious and nutritious meal.  Grilling is a healthy preparation method for a low fat protein like white fish.  Enjoy!

Grilled Florida OJ Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw


1-1/2 pounds Mahi-Mahi or other firm white fish

½ cup canola oil

1 cup Florida Orange Juice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, Florida Orange Juice, oregano, cayenne, garlic, salt and pepper. Reserve 1/3 cup of this mixture for the slaw.  Put fish in a zip top bag and pour the remaining marinade over the fish.  Seal bag and marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.


¼ cup chopped cilantro

4 cups finely shredded cabbage

1 cup diced Florida Oranges or Florida Grapefruit

½ cup diced red onion

½ cup diced tomato

½ cup diced red bell pepper

1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced


Reserved 1/3 cup marinade (see above)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, add reserved marinade, cilantro, cabbage, Florida Oranges or Florida Grapefruit, red onion, tomato, red bell pepper, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat and set aside to allow flavors to blend.


24 corn tortillas (6 inch size)

Fish and Slaw

Plain Greek yogurt for garnish (optional)

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove fish from marinade and discard marinade; grill about 5 minutes or just until done.  Do not overcook fish.  Remove fish from grill and flake with a fork.  Place tortillas on the grill for 20 seconds to heat them up.  For each taco, place about 1 ounce of fish into a tortilla and top with 1-2 tablespoons of slaw.  Garnish with Greek yogurt if desired.

Makes 12 servings: 2 tacos per serving

Estimated nutrition information per serving: 35 grams carbohydrate, 2 ounces protein/meat, 5 grams fat.



Recipe of the Month: February: Orange-Glazed Pork

February 28, 2016

Orange-Glazed Pork

By Susan Klick, MSN, RN, CNL Diabetes Educator

Need a quick dinner tonight? How about Double Orange-Glazed Pork Mini-Chops? This recipe serves 4, cooks in 10 minutes and is easy to prepare.


2 navel oranges

¼ cup orange marmalade

1 (1 ¼ pound pork tenderloin cut into 12 (1/2-inch-thick) slickes

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Directions: Grate enough zest from 1 orange to make 1 teaspoon; set aside. Holding oranges over a 2-cup measure, squeeze enough juice to make ¾ cup. Whisk in marmalade until blended.

Pat pork slices dry and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

Add orange juice mixture to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce is reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Swirl in butter and reserved orange zest until blended. Return pork and any pan juices to the skillet; heat through. Serve with the sauce.

Nutritional Information: Per serving (3 slices of pork with about 1 tablespoon sauce): 270 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated, 0 g trans), 85mg cholesterol, 240mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 32 g protein.


Source: Diabetic Living

An Easter “Sweet”

March 27, 2015

Sweet ‘n’ Salty Raspberry Bars                                            

by Alison Brinker, RD, LD

April showers bring May flowers…… also brings Easter candy……candy tempting us from every basket. Try this low carbohydrate dessert when gathering with friends and family. It’s refreshing and as bright and colorful as a Spring day. The sweetness of the raspberry gelatin is a great compliment to the salty pretzel crust. Enjoy!

What you will need:

1 ½ cup finely crushed pretzels

¼ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons Splenda Sugar Blend, divided

½ cup light tub margarine, trans-fat free, melted

1 package (4 serving size) sugar-free raspberry flavored gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1 (12 ounce) package frozen raspberries, slightly thawed (see Note*)

1 (8 ounce) package fat-free cream cheese, softened

1 (8 ounce) frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine crushed pretzels, 1-1/2 tablespoons Splenda, and margarine. Press mixture into bottom of prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake 8 minutes; let cool
  4. In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add raspberries and chill until slightly thickened. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, combine cream cheese and remaining Splenda until smooth and creamy. Fold in whipped topping and spread evenly over pretzel crust.
  5. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat gelatin and raspberries until berries are broken up. Spread over cream cheese layer. Cover and chill at least 4 hours, or until firm.

*Note: Although the raspberries need to be thawed slightly so they are not frozen solid, the colder they are, the faster the gelatin will thicken.

Cut pan into 16 servings. Each serving is 107 calories, 18 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fat


Clean – Separate – Cook – Chill: Basic Food Safety Steps

December 10, 2014

by Alison Brinker, RD, LD

The holidays are a great time to review food safety guidelines. A person with diabetes is at higher risk for foodborne illnesses. With diabetes, your immune system may not readily recognize harmful bacteria or other pathogens. This delay in the body’s natural response to foreign invasion places a person with diabetes at increased risk for infection. If a person with diabetes contracts a foodborne illness they are more likely to have a lengthier illness and require hospitalization compared to a person without diabetes. During the holidays many people are preparing food for friends and family. Making sure it is prepared safely is a must to prevent anyone from getting a foodborne illness.ID-10026109

Four basic steps to food safety:

  • Clean
  • Separate
  • Cook
  • Chill

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food. Wash hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers or handling pets. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and preparation of any other food that will not be cooked. You can also sanitize cutting boards and counter tops by rinsing them in a solution made of one tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Plastic cutting boards may be run through the wash cycle in your automatic dishwasher. Wash produce by rinsing under warm tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Clean the lids of canned goods too before opening.

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria are spread from one food product to another such as with raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Always keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods such as salad. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat without first washing the plate with hot soapy water. Don’t use marinades used on raw foods unless you bring them to a boil first. Consider having two cutting boards; one designated for raw meat, poultry and seafood and the other for ready to eat foods such as bread, fruits, raw vegetables and cooked meat.

Cook: Cook all meats to the recommended temperature. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature in several places to make sure that the meat, poultry, seafood or egg product is cooked to the correct temperature to prevent foodborne illness.

Looking for Something to do with those Turkey Leftovers?

November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Leftovers

by Alison Brinker, RD, LD

What to do, what to do with all that leftover turkey? Below is a great recipe for using the turkey you just couldn’t finish on Thanksgiving Day. This will make a great lunch or light dinner. The avocado provides a good source of healthy, unsaturated fat, after a holiday that is usually full of unhealthy saturated fat from butter, gravy and cream sauces.

Turkey and Avocado Wraps

Serving size: 1 wrap, recipe makes 4 servings

½ avocado

3 tablespoons plain, fat free yogurt

¼ teaspoon chili powder

2 cups chopped lettuce

2 small tomatoes, finely diced

2 tablespoons fat-free Italian dressing

4 10-inch whole grain flour tortillas

12 ounces sliced, leftover turkey

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

  1. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. Add yogurt and chili powder to avocado and mix well.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss lettuce and tomato with Italian dressing.
  3. Spread 1-1/2 tablespoons of avocado mixture on one tortilla. Add 3 ounces of turkey, ¼ of the lettuce and tomato mixture, and ¼ of the sliced cucumber.
  4. Create a wrap by folding in the left and right side of the tortilla until the edges are about 1 inch apart and then roll from the top down. Repeat this process for remaining 3 tortillas.

Nutrition Information:

Total carbohydrate, 45 grams, 3 ounces meat, 2 fat choices

Source: Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking, a full year of delicious menus and easy recipes



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