Why You Don’t Actually Need to Cut Out Carbs

By: Ava Elliott, Marketing Intern

Reviewed by: Devon Kroesche, MS, RDN, LDN

Carbs often get a bad rap. They are described as “unhealthy” or “bad” for you. Let’s clear up this confusion because carbs nourish your body. Read that again, please. Carbs are nourishing to the human body for many reasons. For example, carbohydrates are turned into glucose to use as energy for your body.

It can be misleading on social media or by word-of-mouth when someone says you should cut carbs out of your diet. However, they are one of the five major food groups and an important macronutrient (others include fat and protein). It is vital to balance your dietary intake and eat from all the major food groups. First, I will discuss the distinct types of carbs. Then, I will emphasize the importance of eating the rainbow and having a variety of nutrients in your diet.

 

Types of Carbs

To begin, there are two distinct categories of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbs consist of sugars, whereas complex carbs consist of starches and fiber.

Sugars

Sugars are simple carbs that include natural sugars and added sugars. Simple carbohydrates break down quickly in the body and give us quick energy. Furthermore, natural sugars include those naturally occurring in whole foods like fresh, whole fruits or in milk. Added sugars are added to foods for flavor and include things like canned fruit or fruit juice, ice cream, and baked goods.

Tip: Limit foods that are refined and high in added sugars from sugar-sweetened beverages, candy, and white flour and instead focus on getting a healthful balance of natural sugars from whole fruits and milk products.

Starches

Starches are complex carbs that include fruits (watermelon, raspberries, apples, etc.), vegetables (corn, potatoes, beets, etc.), whole-grains (oatmeal, whole-grain bread, brown rice), beans and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, black beans, etc). Complex carbohydrates break down longer in the body and provide energy, as well as helping us to feel fuller for longer. Most starches provide vitamins and minerals to our body.

Fiber

Fiber is a complex carb found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Our body can’t digest fiber, but it aids in digestion and regulates blood sugar. Additionally, fiber keeps you fuller for a longer period. The two types of fiber are insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber speeds up digestion and soluble fiber gives bulk to the stool. Both types of fiber are found in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds.

Whether eating simple or complex carbs, they are fuel for our bodies. MyPlate is a great estimate to ensure you are eating enough carbs in a day. This recommendation says to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with whole grains, and the last quarter with protein. Another tip is to replace half your grains with whole grains each day, to include fiber and complex carbs. Eating should include a balance of foods from all the food groups and nourish your body and mind.

If you have any questions, or would like to get in touch with our dietitians, please email us at scheduling@casespecificnutrition.com to schedule an appointment!

Which Milk is Healthiest?

By: Ava Elliott, Marketing Intern

Reviewed by: Devon Kroesche, MS RDN LDN

The Big 9 food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, sesame, and soy. Many people are either lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy.

A food intolerance occurs when the human body has a chemical reaction and a challenging time digesting certain foods, whereas a food allergy elicits an immune response. With a milk allergy, there is an immune response elicited and a reaction to milk protein occurs. There are many cow’s milk alternatives on the market, and it can be confusing to choose the right milk for your body.

Let us break it down to the basics and learn about the several types of milk and plant-based milk available.

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk is a rich source of protein and calcium. Protein is important for growth and repair in the body. Calcium is vital for bone and teeth health, strong bones, and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Choosing milk with lower milkfat can decrease the saturated fat content.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is a lactose-free dairy substitute that is rich in B vitamins, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids: healthful fats that can help with brain health and prevent certain diseases like cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and some cancers. Look for soy milk that is fortified with calcium to help with bone health. Soy milk is comparable to cow’s milk, but it contains more fiber and has slightly less fat, carbohydrates, and sugar.

Oat Milk

Oat milk is another plant-based, milk alternative. Oat milk has 2 grams of fiber per 1 cup, but less protein than cow’s milk or soy milk. Look for oat milk that has fortified vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin A. Another tip is to look for “unsweetened” oat milk to reduce the amount of sugar.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is another plant-based, lactose-free milk available for those who enjoy a nutty flavor. This milk is rich in magnesium, which is necessary for reactions in the body and can help control blood sugar levels. Look for unsweetened almond milk to lower amount of sugars and carbohydrates. A common tip is to purchase almond milk fortified with calcium and phosphorus to strengthen bones. Almond milk is also rich in antioxidants like vitamin E that help prevent cells from damage and lower the risk of certain conditions like heart disease.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a great source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which increase energy and are a healthful source of fat. Coconut milk contains a small amount of both iron and calcium. Coconut milk contains a higher amount of saturated fat and should be limited in moderation. 

It is important to consider allergies and intolerances when choosing the right milk for you. Some plant-based milks are great for cooking or baking, and others taste great alone or in coffee or tea. Check out the healthful tips mentioned above and the table comparing the nutrients of each milk mentioned above.

Whether you are choosing a non-dairy alternative due to an allergy/intolerance or other reasons, it is important to make sure you are not missing out on key nutrients. This is why working with a registered dietitian is so important! Schedule an appointment with us by emailing scheduling@casespecificnutrition.com.

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Cuban Black Beans & Rice

By: Ava Elliott, Marketing Intern

Hi, folks! My name is Ava and I am a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. I am a Registered Dietitian to-be and I am excited to share some recipes with you all. A little bit about me: I am passionate about nutrition and dietetics, especially when it comes to working with food allergies and disordered eating. In my free time, I like to run, go on long walks with friends, and explore the food scene here in Pittsburgh. I am one quarter Cuban and I thought one of my favorite dishes, Cuban black beans and rice, would be a good first recipe to share. 

 

Cuban Black Beans and Rice can be served as a side dish to another protein or as the star of the plate. Growing up, my mom would also make black beans and rice with a fried egg and a salad on the side. Sometimes, she adds Cuban-style chicken for more protein and nutrients. I included a picture of the beans I made in my college apartment paired with a colorful salad, for reference.

Black beans are a great source of protein, fiber and are rich in antioxidants. Beans are a great plant-based source of protein that will fuel your body with energy and promote healthfulness. The fiber in the beans helps to keep you fuller for longer, and the benefits of antioxidant properties include protecting cells in the body from damage and reducing the risk of certain cancers.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 cans of black beans (15.5 oz each), low sodium, rinsed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf, whole
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar

What To Do:

  • In a large pot, add black beans, water, chopped green pepper, finely chopped onion, and minced garlic together on high heat.
  • Season with ½ tsp of salt, ½ tsp oregano, and ½ teaspoon of cumin and stir into beans.
  • Add 1 bay leaf and 3 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of vinegar to the pot and stir.
  • Bring to a boil then simmer on medium-low heat for about 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve with rice, salad, and/or a fried egg.
  •  

If you like to meal prep, you can double the recipe or freeze the leftovers in your fridge for a few weeks. Hopefully you will enjoy this authentic dish, and feel free to make the recipe and post it on your social media! Tag us @casespecificnutrition on Instagram and Facebook.

The Athlete Mindset

Think you're not an athlete? Think again.

By: Jeremiah Rowe, CSCS, CPPS

The fitness industry is inundated with poor advice for lifters of all demographics. You see it when you go to your big box gym; that guy with 5 plates on each side of the bar, quarter-squatting his way to imminent lumbar disk herniations. You see it with the Instagram “influencers” spouting off their supplement recommendations and their promotion for fit teas and Botox. You see it in high school (and COLLEGE) athletics programs where the football coach hands his entire team the same workout plan to be followed, with next to zero oversight, for the next 3 months. The workout will have 12 exercises, each for 3 sets of 8-10 reps, except for bench press, of course. They’ll be maxing out on that every Monday. Perfect.

To paraphrase the great Michael Jordan, “”I take that personally.” That is why, when I was offered the position as head strength coach of Case Specific Wellness Center, I started visualizing what my future days would look like at this dream facility. I could hear the metal weights on the bench press clanging like church bells, calling everyone in earshot to give their attention to this sacred altar. 

I saw the hard-nosed, blue collar, western Pennsylvania football stars pushing a few hundred pounds of steel across the turf, their legs feeling like they’re disintegrating from their bodies, but still somehow finding that inner drive to push their knee to their chest and take another step, one after another. Over here an unassuming freshman girls’ soccer player is about to hit 135 lbs on her trap bar deadlift for the first time, and the rag-tag group of kids from various other teams and sports are encircling her, yelling and clapping as she grinds through her set and lifts two 45lb plates off the floor for the first time.

Yes. These athletes are working hard, but they’re working SMART, too. This idea is what turned my vision from Case Specific Wellness into Case Specific Athletics. I want to provide intelligent strength and conditioning coaching to athletes and general populations who want to work hard, but in a way that is going to train them for performance in life as well as on the field/court/rink/track, you name it. 

I’ve spent years working closely with general populations and their healthcare professionals trying to coach them intelligently in a way that allows them to feel better as much as look better. I love having people come to me with knee pain, unsure that they will even be able to train at all, only to realize 4 months later that they’ve got 100lbs on their back and they are squatting with no pain at all!

Now, the injury and movement impairment rehabilitative side of what I do is one thing, and I feel I’ve proven myself to (most of) my clients to be more than just a meathead gym bro. The issue, though, became this: Would the name Case Specific ATHLETICS turn away those populations who I am able to help move and feel better than ever?

I had one client who, when we were ordering new Case Specific Athletics hoodies with the new logo (see below), was hesitant to buy one because “There’s a weightlifter on it and I’d be embarrassed to wear it because I’m not fit.” This was the same client who, when she first came to our facility, was unsure if she should even bother with a nutrition appointment because “This is a place for elite athletes.” The same client who, a year later, is one of our hardest workers. She is in our gym 2-3 times per week in our B.A.S.I.C. (Building A System of Integral Components) Training classes, kicking the crap out of herself to get into the best shape she can, and pushing the pace of the whole class as she does it.

As adults, many of us lose touch with that youthful athletic drive that we possess through high school and maybe college. Our bodies age, we gain a bit of weight, we start to feel a bit more sluggish in our day-to-day grind. Sure, these are factors of life that everyone has to deal with at some point. I would argue, however, against the easily adopted mindset of “I’m not an athlete.” Do you think a non-athlete could go out and ride a bike through the whole neighborhood with his eight year old after a 10 hour workday? Do you think a non-athlete could be 70 years (young!) and accidentally trip over a crack in the sidewalk and manage to bring a foot through to catch his or herself before hitting the ground and possibly risking serious injury? Do you think a non-athlete could chase a wild toddler around the house all day, making sure the kid doesn’t jump off the couch or try to eat the Yankee Candle off the dining room table. I have a 19 month-old niece and, let me tell you, that girl needs a whole freaking team of people watching her to keep her from mischief.

What else I saw in those visions from earlier were the adults who have found their place among the young warriors. They’ve been intoxicated by this environment of sweat, loud music, and hard work, and they are out there on the floor, working just as hard as the kids. They’re grinding; not for sport, though. They’re fighting and battling this iron enemy for something greater; for life. It’s a life in which they feel comfortable that they can go out and play baseball with the neighborhood kids, keeping up and even “showing them how it’s done.” It’s a life that a dad working at the office isn’t coming home crippled up and sore from a long day of sitting. This is a life where a mom who hasn’t played a sport since high school is able to keep up and not become overwhelmed with the hustle-and-bustle of her three kids playing three different sports that she has to drive them to in between PTA meetings and making dinner. It’s a life where a husband can look at his wife of 15 years and two kids as she gets ready to shower and say “DAMN. I get to spend the rest of my life with THAT?!”

So maybe you don’t play a sport. Maybe you used to in high school and then college and life came at you quick and you lost touch of that athleticism that you used to have. Maybe you never played a sport because you didn’t have the confidence or just plain weren’t interested. That’s fine, but DON’T tell me you aren’t an athlete. You are as much an athlete as any one of those people you watch throw a ball around on TV. That vision that I had for Case Specific Athletics did include YOU. And if you are ready to find your inner athletic potential, reach out to us today and find out how you can get started with a FREE physical assessment or athlete movement screen! I hope that you’ll let me help you change your life forever.

Call 412-593-2048 (option 5)

or email info@casespecificathletics.com

oats

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

By: Devon Kroesche, intern & future dietitian

Pumpkin spice season is upon us, folks. Buckle up and get ready for pumpkin EVERYTHING. Are we mad about it? Not. One. Bit.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

  • Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is involved with immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication.
  • Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, which improves digestion and keeps you feeling satisfied for hours.
  • Pumpkin, like most other fruits and vegetables, is high in water. This provides you with extra fluid that is aborbed more slowly, keeping you hydrated throughout the day.

As if you needed another excuse to eat pumpkin everything, what better way to start your morning than with a taste of fall that is healthy and satisfying? Whip this up the night before and it will be ready to eat in the morning. Whether you need something quick to grab before you run out the door, or just want to make mornings at home a little more relaxed, you will be so glad you made this.

Click here to order Daily Whey vanilla protein: https://www.amazon.com/Vanilla-Daily-Whey-lbs-909/dp/B00G7HABUY

Whay You’ll Need

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 scoop Daily Whey vanilla protein
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • sprinkle pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)

What to Do

  • Combine oats, protein, almond milk, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl or jar. Let sit overnight, or at least a few hours.
  • Sprinkle cranberries or other desired toppings and enjoy!

That’s it! Super easy, minimal clean up, and you get a few minutes back in your morning. Use them wisely (read: hit that snooze alarm).

Meet our Blogger-in-Chief

Devon is a 2nd year graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying to be a registered dietitian. She enjoys surfing, farmer’s markets, and will definitely ask if she can pet your dog. She runs Case Specific’s social media, blog, newsletter, and marketing.

Be sure to follow @casespecificnutrition on Instagram and Facebook for more fun nutrition & wellness content!

sheet pan pizza

Sheet Pan Pizza

By: Devon Kroesche, Media Intern and Future Dietitian

A pizza recipe? On a dietitian’s blog? You heard that right. How can pizza possibly be considered healthy? Let’s break this down.

Let’s start by establishing the idea that there are no good foods or bad foods. Pizza is a food commonly considered in the dieting world as a “bad or unhealthy food”, which is simply a misunderstanding about food and how it functions in our bodies.

All foods contain a certain ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Food contains calories, and calories are no more than a unit of measurement that describes the amount of energy contained in a certain food. Simply put, food is our source of energy. Pizza is a source of energy.

So why has pizza been so vilified by our health conscious friends? It is a food that is considered to be energy dense – meaning that it contains a large number of calories when compared to other foods of similar size and weight. That makes it an easy food to overeat when consumed by itself, rather than as part of a balanced meal.

So how do we make pizza part of a balanced meal? That is exactly what we did with this recipe. We added veggies as a topping, topped our slice with a handful of leafy greens, and ate it alongside some salmon (a lean source of protein, rich in nutrients). We also made some minor swaps to pack in more nutrients – we used whole wheat dough to provide more fiber, used a homemade sauce to limit added sugar and excess sodium, and used low-fat mozzarella cheese to cut down on saturated fat. The results were delicious and satisfying. We hope you think so, too.

sheet pan pizza
Face eats first with pizza this good 🙂

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 lb pizza dough (whole wheat if possible, homemade or store bought), chilled for at least 30 minutes
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes halved, plus more for topping
  • 8oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4oz tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Tablespoon oregano
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 cup part skim lowfat mozzarella shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thinly into coins
  • 2 cups arugula or spinach for topping

What to Do:

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a sauce pan, combine cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt & pepper, 1 tsp thyme and garlic cloves on high heat. Stir for 3 minutes, then add honey, peeled tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until combined. Use a fork to smash tomatoes if necessary.
  • In a small bowl, mix together red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper and the last 1 tsp thyme.
  • Cover sheet pan with generous amount of olive oil. Spread chilled dough across sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil on dough.
  • Spread sauce on dough. Add zucchini coins. Spread cheese evenly and add herb mixture.
  • Bake in oven on top rack for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  • Top with basil leaves, arugula, and halved cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil with desired. Enjoy!
Dessert was two Lily’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups

Mexican-Street-Corn-Pasta-Salad-canva

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Because plain ol’ pasta salad is for amateurs.

By: Devon L Kroesche, Social Media Intern

Confession: As a lifelong vegetarian, my favorites at any BBQ is always the SIDES. This Fourth of July, my plate was piled up with two of my go-to’s, pasta salad and corn on the cob. Of course, this inspired me to combine the two into a creative side dish that will impress all of your fellow BBQ goers.

For this dish, I used Banza cavatappi pasta, but feel free to switch it up. I’m a big fan of chickpea pasta for the slow digesting carbohydrates and higher protein content, but whole grain pasta is also a great option. And you don’t have to use cavatappi pasta either. Macaroni, elbow, and rigatoni all do very well in pasta salad.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 ears of corn, or 2.5 cans
  • one box of Banza cavatappi pasta, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cojita cheese (alternative option: queso fresco)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

What to Do:

  • If using ears of corn, boil for around 5 minutes in salty water. Allow to cool and then cut kernels off the cob.
  • Cook pasta al dente and set aside to cool.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine mayonnaise and Greek yogurt until evenly mixed.
  • In a large bowl, combine corn, pasta, red onion, green onion and jalapenos.
  • Add mayonnaise-Greek yogurt mixture and mix until even.
  • Add lime juice, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and salt and black pepper.
  • Top with Cojita cheese and cilantro. Serve chilled.

Other optional add-on’s: black beans, diced cucumber or tomato, avocado. Get creative!

That CLOSE UP, though.
Mexican Street Corn image

Memorial Day BBQ Reinvented

By: Devon Kroesche, RD to Be

I don’t know about you, but with everything going on lately I almost forgot about the upcoming holiday weekend. That being said, there is a good chance your Memorial Day Weekend is going to look a little different than past years. We may not be able to crowd outside to enjoy a red white & blue parade, and maybe your beach vacation got cancelled or postponed. Luckily, pandemic or not, summertime is just around the corner.

Whether you’re having friends and family over for some backyard burgers and brews, or just relaxing with your immediate household, we’ve got some all-American recipes for you to enjoy. So fire up the grill and let’s get cookin’!

Watermelon Feta Salad

recipe adapted from Tasty. Serves 4

What You’ll Need

  • 3 cups watermelon cubed
  • 6-8 cups dark leafy greens
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

What to Do:

  • Make dressing: Whisk together lemon juice, honey, water, olive oil, and a pinch of salt
  • Toss together watermelon, greens, and feta. Drizzle dressing overtop.
  • Enjoy!

Grilled Portobello ShroomBurger

Serving suggestion. Serves 2

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • dash of black pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper

What to Do:

  • Remove stems from mushrooms and wipe down with a wet paper towel (do NOT run mushrooms under water)
  • Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Brush mushrooms with mixture.
  • Grill for 2-3 minutes on both sides. Serve.
  • Pictured: grilled portobello mushrooms with spring greens, tomato, and avocado on whole grain Ezekiel bread. Also pairs well with Swiss cheese!

Kickin’ Street Corn

Serves 4

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 ears of corn, with silk removed but husks still on
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese
  • 2 limes
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • garlic salt to taste

What to Do:

  • Peel husks back and remove silks only. Let corn (with husks still on) sit in a saltwater bath for 10 minutes.
  • Place corn still in husks on the grill for 10-12 minutes or until husks are lightly charred
  • Melt butter and once husks are removed from corn, brush each ear with butter. Sprinkle with garlic salt.
  • Brush one side of ears of corn with light sour cream, and sprinkle cotija cheese and cayenne pepper. Add chopped cilantro and squeeze half one lime’s worth of juice over top.

Frozen Red White & Blue Fruit Kabobs

Serves 7

What You’ll Need:

  • carton strawberries, rinsed and sliced in half
  • 1/2 carton blueberries, rinsed
  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • metal or wooden skewers

What to Do:

  • Once fruit is rinsed and chopped, simply stick on skewers in desired pattern.
  • Freeze at least 1-2 hours and enjoy!