Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas

by Shelly Guzman, RD, CD

Wanting to make something different for dinner, I stumbled upon this recipe for empanadas on the Cooking Light website. This recipe is vegetarian, but can easily be made with a little shredded chicken or pork. My boyfriend added lean ground beef while I kept mine vegetarian. Boy, did they taste goooood!! The other great thing about these empanadas is that they can easily be frozen and stored for a meal later in the week. Since they are a little labor intensive, this is a fun recipe to make with a friend. A little tip, the recipe calls for egg white to seal the edges of the empanadas, but you will also want to use this egg white to brush over the top of the empanadas so they brown up nicely in the oven. Ours turned out a little pale. If you like spicy, this recipe has plenty of that. I chose to tone it down a little by serving a little sour cream on the side. Add a nice green salad, and you've got a well-balanced and tasty meal!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas


  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten


1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine canola oil, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and egg in a medium bowl. Gradually add oil mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Knead lightly until smooth. Shape dough into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

2. Preheat broiler.

3. Place poblano on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil 8 minutes or until blackened, turning after 6 minutes. Place in a paper bag; close tightly. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chile; cut in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membranes. Finely chop.

4. Preheat oven to 400°.

5. Cook the cumin seeds in a large saucepan over medium heat 1 minute or until toasted, stirring constantly. Place cumin in a clean spice or coffee grinder; process until ground. Combine cumin, poblano, sweet potatoes, and next 5 ingredients (through 1/2 teaspoon salt) in a large bowl; mash with a fork until almost smooth.

6. Divide dough into 10 equal portions, shaping each into a ball. Roll each dough portion into a (5-inch) circle on a lightly floured surface. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), spoon 3 level tablespoons poblano mixture into center of each circle. Moisten edges of dough with egg white; fold dough over filling. Press edges together to seal. Place empanadas on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut 3 diagonal slits across top of each empanada. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes or until lightly browned.

Nutritional Information

8.4g (sat 0.7g,mono 5g,poly 2.3g)
Jeanne Kelley, Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2010

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nutrients For Healing

By Shelly Guzman, RD, CD

Despite precautions, many athletes will become injured. Certain nutrients are critical for successful rehabilitation and recovery. The following recommendations are for nutrients that are essential to the healing process. Though many come in supplemental form, the body absorbs the majority of these nutrients much more efficiently from food.

Vitamin A - promotes cell growth and development, bone development, and immune function
Food sources: liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, mango, turnip greens, spinach, papaya, bell peppers

Vitamin C - powerful antioxidant that helps the body form collagen, which is essential for repair of ligaments and tendons and strengthening of bones
Food sources: oranges, broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, grapefruit, baked potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, papaya, cantaloupe

Vitamin D - needed for calcium absorption, normal development of bones, and prevention of muscle spasms; may support a healthy immune system
Food sources: cod liver oil, egg yolk, fatty fish like salmon & herring, beef liver, and fortified foods like milk and orange juice (the best source of vitamin D is sunlight)

Vitamin E - antioxidant that may prevent excess damage to cells
Food sources: avocado, egg, milk, nuts/seeds, unheated vegetable oils, whole grains

Zinc - necessary for wound healing and healthy immune function
Food sources: meat, seafood, sunflower seeds, almonds

Calcium - needed to build strong bones; plays a role in blood clotting, muscle contractions, and nerve-cell communication
Food sources: dairy, leafy greens, fortified tofu or orange juice, yogurt

Omega-3 Fatty Acids - help reduced pain and inflammation; important for brain development; reduces risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke
Food sources: salmon, cod liver oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, chia seeds, eggs

Iron - necessary for oxygen delivery to cells and regulation of cell growth; a lack of iron results in an insufficient supply of oxygen to cells eventually causing anemia, fatigue, poor work performance, and decreased immunity
Food sources: beef, poultry, pork, beans, lentils, dried apricots, leafy greens, soybeans and tofu, and fortified foods (breads, cereals, orange juice)

Stressors such as surgery, anesthesia, and the injury itself can increase the body's basal metabolic rate by 10-20%. It is important for athletes going through surgery and rehabilitation to consume adequate levels of calories and protein for optimal recovery. Weight gain and muscle loss are both concerning for athletes when they are recovering from injury.

An athlete that has been injured should have a nutrition assessment by a sports dietitian. Why? A sports dietitian can help identify an athlete's caloric needs and protein requirements for weight maintenance and optimal recovery. If you have been injured you should see the dietitian as soon as possible, and if you are having surgery be sure the see the dietitian two weeks in advance of your surgery so you will have a plan for recovery after surgery.

Remember, Momentum Nutrition and Fitness is here to help! If you need help making a dietary plan for recovery from injury, call today.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Turning Fear into Motivation

by Shelly Guzman, RD, CD

I recently listened in on a conference call hosted by nutrition counseling guru Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW and spiritual life coach Reverend Dr. Lorraine Cohen on the topic of "Awakening Your Courageous Heart." What I learned is something I feel I need to share.

The basis of awakening your courageous heart is to ask yourself "How do I make fear my friend, so I can use this energy as motivation as opposed to holding me back?" Talk about an "aha!" moment! Fear can be absolutely paralyzing and can prevent us from experiencing all that life has to offer. Feeling fearful does actually serve us in positive ways. Reverend Cohen outlined the following ways fear serves and protects us:

1) Fear protects us from harm by alerting us to danger
2) Fear helps us to discern a need to set healthy boundaries
3) Fear supports us in developing courage so we can show up to life's situations

Number 3 is perhaps the hardest part about utilizing our fear. How do we use fearfulness as a motivation to build faith in ourselves and in others and to move forward through all situations? According to Rev. Cohen, fear is not meant to stop us. It is meant to make us champions over the things in our lives that are frightful as opposed to being the victim. So, what you must do is to ask yourself what the real truth is about the situation that you are afraid of and determine what you need to do or who you need to be to move forward through that situation. Rev. Cohen encourages us to recognize that when we're in fear, we're not in the present, we are instead in a story of our own creation. Fear projects our thoughts into the future (i.e. if I give that speech, people might laugh at me), but in reality all we have is now. The first step in releasing your fear is to take a deep breath and come back to the present.

Bottom line: we should view fear as an opportunity to learn and grow! Easier said than done but necessary for a happier life. The good news is that we can eventually move towards reducing the power that our fear has by trusting our intuition (something that Rev. Cohen describes as a muscle developed over time). As we become better at neutralizing our fear, we are able to truly transform that fear into a positive motivator. The key is to look at the things you're avoiding and realize that chances are you can handle it or learn how to handle it or seek help to do so. With practice, you develop a courageous heart.

How does this tie into nutrition and wellness? Self care is essential for a courageous heart. When we value ourselves, we can show up in the best possible way for the things and people we care about. Rev. Cohen uses overeating as an example of not loving yourself. She says that eating food that you know in your heart is bad for you is a form of self abuse, a way of punishing yourself instead of showing compassion. When we lack self love, we dream about the success and things we want but won't let ourselves have those things. The greatest ways to unhook from fear are to cultivate self worth, to believe that you are meant to make a difference in the world, and align yourself with people who support you in reaching all you can be!

May we all find our courageous hearts! Have a great week!