12.11.2019

"To Dairy or Not to Dairy?" in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom


To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom

Do you find yourself questioning what foods you should be consuming?

Food, nutrition, diet culture, wellness, health are important words to all of us. Each of us may have a different definition and this is OK. We are all one our own unique wellness journey

The wellness climate is constantly changing, this is the beauty of science and why I find this area so fascinating. I have always been drawn to what people eat, why they eat it and what it provides them from a nutrient standpoint. In the current wellness climate, sustainability, safety, and animal welfare are buzzwords. There are also a lot of conversations surrounding the term"plant-based" eating. This notion is not new. Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes has been around since I have been a dietitian and way before. Except now it is sexier. It is finding a way to reinvent itself by this trendy term, new products and of course media endorsement. 

With a current documentary being released, I find myself getting a lot of questions about what being plant-based means, what my thoughts are and how can someone do it. In many conversations and digging a little deeper into each individual, there is a gaping hole of daily intake of plant-based foods.  In my own experience and practice, people love to eat anything but or very little of these types of foods it their purest form. 

How does one going to transition from an omnivore diet (where we eat plants and animals) to a herbivore diet (all plants) and do we have to?

As a registered dietitian, I do believe we need to eat more plants and there is no way around it. But we can balance them safely in our wellness journey with animal foods. About 1 in 10 adults meet the fruit and vegetable recommendations a day. If we are not eating plant-based fruits and vegetables, then what are we eating?  We are eating pasta, breads, sweets, donuts, candy, cookies, soda, granola bars, fruit snacks and a bunch of "plant-based" processed foods. All of these foods fit into balanced eating but unfortunately, not many of us are finding the balance because we are avoiding certain foods, especially animal-based food because we have heard they are "bad" for us. 

Navigating your wellness journey is very personal and important. I am happy to help anyone soundly develop their personal road map.  I also am happy to remind people understand they can lived a plant-based life while also consuming animal-based foods. I do this by educating myself on where my food comes from, so I can share this with my clients as if they are my own family and friends. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Chicago with a variety of Registered Dietitians sponsored by Midwest Dairy to learn more about dairy farming practices. This experience not only confirms my desire to continue to educate myself on where our food comes from and the safety of our food, but to educate others. Conversations about food should be positive, safe and offer informative education. This is exactly what I experienced and want to share with you. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
Chicago, IL - Who knew there were local dairy farms so close to such a big city. Did you know fluid milk takes about 48 hours from milking to hitting the grocery store shelves?

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
Erin Hoisington, Registered Dietitian with Midwest Dairy and Katie Smith, Registered Dietitian and Assistant Professor of Sport Science and Health Education, Simpson College. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
We had a lovely dinner at The Signature Room. As I think about this menu, look at the combinations of plant-based foods and animal foods. Each food group compliments each other in taste and in nutrients, including dessert. Part of the joy of the meal was meeting the farmers, Andy and Sarah Lenkaitis whose farm we would visit the next day. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
This weekend experience took us 50 miles outside of the city to Lenkaitis Holsteins Dairy Farm in St. Charles, IL. This dairy farm is family owned by 3 generations and is managed by Andy and Sarah. The farm is home to 160 Red and White Holstein cattle.
To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The farm has a room attached to the barn for events and tours of the farm. Our Undeniably Dairy group gathered here for an introduction to the Lenkaitis Holsteins. 


To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
Of course, we had an assortment of foods for breakfast including fruit, breads and different types of milk. When you think about milk, do you think about the different varieties available to us as consumers?  How fortunate are we to have many varieties of this nutrient dense animal food to meet the needs of all types of people. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
As I was enjoying my breakfast, the Lenkaitis's have windows in their conference room with a great view of their dairy operation. I was able to watch 2 cows in the robotic milkers. This is transparency at its best when it comes to a farming operation. Many farmers are willing to open up their farm and show you their operation. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The Lenkaitis's have a robotic operation. Inside their conference room, Sarah Lenkaitis can watch this computer screen to monitor her cows throughout the day. Robotics enables them to monitor of all aspects of their cows more completely, which results in healthier and happier cows. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
In 2018, they built a new barn for their Holsteins, equipped with the latest technology to improve the comfort of their cows and safety of the people who care for them. This includes cameras for monitoring, large overhead fans to help cool the cows in hot summer months and curtains to raise or lower based on the weather. There is also this large robotic "Roomba" (bottom right) which goes through and sweeps the floors after feeding for cleanliness.
To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
 There are individual pens for cows needing special attention, especially this sweet lady who is a mother-to-be. 
To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The Lenkaitis's grow crops to feed the cows. The cows are fed a total mixed ration twice a day and the blend is monitored by a nutritionist. Cows can eat up to 50 pounds of feed in a day. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
All of their cows have a collar with a RFID or radio frequency identification tag unique to each lady. It is like a Fitbit tracking the cows movement, rest, milking and feeding. The tag will also determine if the lady is ready to milk. The cows are the ones determining if they want to milk. The gate will open up into the milk area once the tag is scanned and then she determines when she is ready to go into the milking stall.  This health management software monitors the health of the cow more consistently and can catch changes in a cow much quicker, leading to faster treatment. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
These ladies are happy cows. They are each given a name. I graciously got to in their special space, pet them and even get some cow kisses.  

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
It was a mild October morning, with a rain storm going through during the visit. The gals were relaxing comfortably in their barn. The barn has an automated manure system to help keep the barn clean for the ladies. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The barn has 2 robotic milking stations. Once the collar on the cow is scanned and she is ready to milk, the robot unit will attach to the udder, then dip her teats in an iodine-based cleaner, rinses them, milks her and then dips the teat again. While she is milking, the robot will drop pellets to encourage the lady to come back for milking. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
Sarah shows and explains to us the computer system monitoring the milking process. Along with this outstanding robotic system, they are also good stewards of the land by growing their own crops for feed, separating manure fiber and selling to a local landscaper. They sell genetics to other farmers and sell bull calves to farmers who raise beef steers. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
While the ladies are waiting in the milking area, there are back scratchers. This is part of the wellness of the cows and are a type of a "spa" treatment. Cows are happier when they can scratch their backs or necks which also encourages them to milk.

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The milk produced at the Lenkaitis farm goes to Dean Foods to make cottage cheese and sour cream in Rockford, IL. This particular product, Dairy Pure Mix-Ins combines plant-based foods like fruits and nuts with animal-based cottage cheese. This combination of foods has a dietitian recommended balance of high quality of nutrition. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom

As I reflect on my visit to the Lenkaitis farm, it just reassures me how sustainability is being practiced in the dairy industry, especially in family-owned farms. The Lenkaitis's are ensuring their milk is good for people, good for the planet and good for the economy. Their food is safe, nutritious and dietitian approved because of the care they provide these animals. Seeing this operation and knowing the dedication this family has in providing a healthy and nutritious food products, increases my confidence in recommending dairy being a part of everyones wellness journey. 

Think of the big picture when it comes to your health. Gather as much information as you can about the food you eat. Know where it comes from, what nutrients it provides, how it fits into your budget and how your body feels when consuming it. And when you need to know more, seek out the expert of the questions you are asking - like a Registered Dietitian or a farmer. Don't stream the latest documentary to answer your questions or question your own wellness journey. 

~AE

*Thank you to Midwest Dairy for sponsoring this post AND thank you to Sarah and Andy Lenkaitis for sharing their farm and beautiful ladies with me. 



12.04.2019

What Are Your Health Foundations? Weekly Wisdom

 What Are Your Health Foundations?  Weekly Wisdom.

What are non-negotiables for you and living your healthiest life?

As I am getting a little older, I am realizing there is a lot about health I know nothing about and I thought I did being a registered dietitian. Yeah...not even close. Besides all the science type things I geek out on and get lost in while researching, there is a lot to think about and there should be things you should prioritize in your life. The simple things that get pushed aside in bustle of our crazy lives. 

Things like drinking water, getting enough sleep, and eating your fruits and vegetables. 

These are all very important but so are other things. 

What about smiling and laughing, do you get enough of this everyday? And what about meaningful conversations where you are a good listener or someone is a good listener for you?  Do you get hugs?  Do you get praise or positive reinforcement?  How about finding quiet time to spend as you wish?  Do you sit and spend time enjoying and savoring your meal?

There is much more to living your healthiest life than eating right, exercising and taking supplements. I believe these are the items further down the list after all the other above. For me, a non-negotiable is truly taking time to find the joy in each day. I never did that before and finally at 38 years old, I started. Once I starting making joy the foundation of my well being, I felt healthier than ever and all the other components started falling into place. Building this foundation of joy and keeping it strong and steady, has been the ultimate game changer. 

#embracethehellyeah 

~AE

11.27.2019

November and Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah Nutrition Noshes

None One. Wisdom

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah

What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?

I couldn't resist this quote because it is just too good!  I think the thing I love best about Thanksgiving is all the laughter to be heard between my family and friends. For the past 5-6 years, I head to spend Thanksgiving with my Mom, Aunt Polly and Uncle John and a plethora of other family members and people who have turned into friends. Each year, it is a VERY memorable experience. I was thinking about last year and how completely random it all was and all I can do is laugh. And all I can think about is the laughter I shared with others who were there. I don't even remember what we had for dinner or how much I ate. All I remember is the people I got to share the holiday with. 

I choose to focus on laughter because for the last few years, everyone who attends signs a table cloth. And in the last few years, we have lost one or more of those people. The tablecloth is a reminder of the Thanksgivings in the past, the special memories we have of them being there and all the goofiness happening that year. When people gather, there is always joy, no matter what sadness has followed. 

This year, there will be a couple signatures missing off the tablecloth again. It is amazing what a difference a year can make. This year, I will choose to remember the laughter from conversations with Justin and Mr. Morrissey. Justin's always started with a little smirk and mild chuckle and Mr. Morrissey's bright smile and boisterous laugh.  I am so grateful to have had Thanksgivings with them and no matter what food I eat or cocktails I drink, I will be present and make memories of everyones laughter.

Laughter is a melody, A concert from the heart
A tickling by the angels, Creative living heart. 
Laughter heals and comforts
 It's sometimes gentle, sometimes bold 
Laughter is a freeing dance 
Performed within the soul.

#embracethehellyeah | #lessstuffmorelife

Nosh Two. #EmbracetheHellYeah Conversation. 

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah


What makes you say “hellyeah” at the end of the day?  For any question I am asked or I ask myself, if I cannot 100% say hell yeah as my answer then it is a hell no. I want you to embrace saying yes with your whole heart and soul by enjoying every part of your authentic life. At the end of each month, I want to get more up close and personal with you all on the other side of the airwaves and share with you more about how my podcast guests are I are doing our best to #embracethehellyeah.  It’s Thanksgiving week and I am sharing my 3 tips to stay sane and focus on gratitude, not food. 

Connect and let me know what you think by emailing me or on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

Nosh Three. November Hell Yeahs!

November came and went, quickly, but my most favorite part was getting to spend almost 5 whole days with my friend Brenda in sunny Florida. We relaxed, we ate food, we walked beaches, we looked for seashells, we had cake by the ocean and watched sunsets. We got to slow down and just be. It was lovely!

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah
Sunglitter!

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah
Raw oysters are always a favorite!

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah
Shell Island. 

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah
All the seafood in one delicious dish from the Saltwater Grill

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah
Cake by the Ocean courtesy of the Donut Hole.  

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah
The sunsets were the best part because they are Brenda's favorite part. 

Nosh Four.  Monthly Mixtape

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah
November's Mixtape is an oldie but a goodie. Find my #Thankful playlist on Apple Music and Spotify

 Nosh Five. What I Love Right Now.

November Thanksgiving #EmbracetheHellyeah

Before I headed out on vacation, I got my dietitian self all recharged with the Iowa Academy Annual Meeting and being a preceptor to this fine gent, Brody. If you have never been a preceptor or mentor before, I highly suggest you do it. Just once. It completely reminds you why you do what you do for a living and how important it is to pay it forward. I know the dietetics profession would not exist if it wasn't for preceptors. Brody, you are going to make a great dietitian, congratulations on the amazing future ahead. 

~AE

*All views and opinions on products, food and businesses in this blog post are my own and are not sponsored in any way. I just love to share great things!