September is...

It’s September 1st and the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) was released August 27th, the earliest release in the chain’s history! Love it or hate it, it’s here earlier and with a new version, the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. As a dietitian, I try to stay up on the latest trends, sugary drinks included. So, yes I tried it. The original hot version of the PSL comes in at a whopping 40 grams of carbs in a tall size (not sure how much is from milk naturally and how much is added sugar). The new version, the Cold Brew, comes in at 31 grams of carbs. What I will say is this, it tasted divine, better than the hot version. I cannot tell a lie. Here in Miami it is still quite hot and having this cold coffee version hit just the right spot. And because it was cold brew it didn’t taste that sweet. Part of the reason I try these trends is to see if I can replicate them and/or find a blogger who has. And I did. I’ll be trying it out later today and giving it a whirl. Instead of the 31 grams of carbs, this version will have just 17 grams. I’m not here to say you can’t ever have a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, but I am here to remind you that added sugar is the first place I look at to cut back on - from weight gain to diabetes, added sugar can lead to many different health problems. So really look at your whole day’s intake, with the intent to decrease added sugar. And remember these are once in awhile drinks, literal special occasions, not everyday drinks. Very important to keep in mind.

September is Part 2 - PSL.jpg

All over the country people are saying that it's starting to feel like fall. Just an update here in the good old MIA, it's still humid, there's been a lot of rain recently, and we're still in the heart of hurricane season. Even as I write this Hurricane Dorian is pummeling the Bahamas and then will make it’s way towards the east coast. Yes, these are the end days of summer here in Miami. Not complaining just laying the land for those not from here. So while it won’t be a direct hit here in Miami as we previously thought, I am preparing a few meals/dishes for this week in the thought that we might lose power (as a just in case). I heard a lot of conversations about “all the junk food” people bought for the Hurricane. FYI, there are still healthy options to get even if you lose power. I have powdered milk (to make a glass of milk with, just add water), bread, peanut butter, nuts/seeds, individual tuna packets, canned beans (while warmed up is better tasting, I can use the beans as if it’s a dip of sorts or throw on a salad), whole wheat crackers, and all the fresh fruits and veggies. Again, not ideal, but a few good go-to options for a few days in case power is lost. And as for food safety/temperature - when in doubt, throw it out!

September is Part 2 - Dorian.jpg

I’ve always talked about going back and getting a masters to enhance my current education. I did look over the spring/summer at different programs and I’ll be honest, none really caught my attention. And if I’m going back to get a masters, it better be something to enhance as they are quite costly and time consuming. Instead I started looking into taking other classes that might enhance what I’m currently doing. I took a cooking class to learn a few tricks on a few items that are hard to bake. And then I stumbled upon an online food photography class! I admit I was a little bit hesitant to even do this class, but I’ve always liked photography in general (love Ansel Adams black and white pictures!) and while I like styling my food pictures, I thought this would be a really good hobby on the side to help improve what I’m already doing. So I signed up. Part of the hesitation was me thinking that I needed to have a professional camera. I’ll be the first to tell you they do seem intimidating. With phone cameras as good as they are these days…that’s all I’ve been using. My friend Marcela gave me a really great camera a couple of years back - and I’ll be honest, I’ve never picked it up to even try. I told you, they’re intimidating! But this class has me all excited, teaching me the basics of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. And guess what?! I finally picked up the professional camera and started using it!! I still have played around with my phone camera - because my S8 does have a professional setting, but I’m also starting to use the professional camera. It’s less intimidating and the truth of it all is that you have to practice, practice, and practice some more. That’s it. I wouldn’t go far as to say that I’m a food stylist. I’m not. But when I see other people’s pictures and set-ups it gets me excited. And that’s truly all that matters. Here’s a recent before shot:

Homework - Week 3 - Before.jpg

Not that impressive, I know. The rosewater syrup is impressive, but that’s about it. This was also part of a h.w assignment, where we were supposed to have a real basic photo that now we were required to go back and do a makeover - using props, considering the lines, and all that goes into creating a good photo. So, minus a little reflection in the spoons, here’s my after picture:

Homework - Week 3 - After.jpeg

I’m SO happy with how it turned out. Sure, the hot pink color is a showstopper, but more than that I love how my flowers (crepe myrtle in my backyard) and the scarf (purchase so long ago, who knew it would help with a food photo?) all tied in with the color scheme and really truly made this picture what it is. If I were to grade myself, I’d call it an A-, but only because I’m a perfectionist, and that glare on the spoons has to be improved. Now to start scouring for food props at thrift shops. Consider it done!

In June I was announced as a Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This past month I did a few print articles that I thought might be of interest to everyone. I post them in my stories on Instagram from time to time, but do need to think of a way to better organize them with the links for all to enjoy!

First up, "Healthy ice-cream alternatives. Go to the grocery store and they’re all over the frozen food section. But are they healthier? Check out the article to see what I had to say. I used 2 of these alternatives and one regular ice cream in my Diabetes Prevention Program as a taste test (unmarked of course) to demonstrate to them first and foremost that the real thing should be enjoyed from time to time, 2nd that all foods can fit, and third that the real thing really does taste better. So, I might have already told you what I had to say, but do check out the article for more details - I made it sound simpler than it really is.

The next article I was able to contribute to was titled smart snacking. Snacking for me is all dependent on the timing of food in between meals. And this really is the key. Snacks are to help bridge the gap between meals. Snacks help you to offset possibly overeating at a meal and also providing your body with key fuel that it needs in order to sustain yourself. Here are a few great ideas depending on what it is you might want in a snack and as always, pay attention to timing as well as the consistency of your meals to make sure they are adequately fueled as well (so you’re not just snacking all day). Check out the article here.

And the other trendy item of the month/year (and just one of many) is oat milk. It’s been around for awhile now, but recently a barista version has surfaced in the grocery stores. See all that I had to say about "alternative milks" in this article. And keep in mind, many of these alternative “milks” have surfaced due to people trending more with a plant-based lifestyle and decreasing the consumption of meat for not only health reasons but also environmental reasons. So with that in mind it’s ever important to switch to a healthy alternative if replacing with a non-dairy version - fortifying is key as you’ll see in my explanation. Read on here!

So there you have it. A round-up of sorts of what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks. It’s been busy! A good kind of busy. Excited for the coming months - a little bit of travel, a birthday - more “good” busy! I’ll take it. And I leave you with another photo I worked on in my food photography class. Mamoncillos.

Homework - Week 2 - Edits.jpeg