The Daniel Plan

By Robin Quay, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian for Sodexo

Only God can change lives. God used the Daniel Plan to change mine.

A year ago, my manager suggested we start running together. Then, she found the Daniel Plan and suggested I teach it at Liberty.
A month later, I started the first of many sessions of The Daniel Plan at Liberty.
I don’t believe in expecting others to do something that I wouldn’t do myself, so I followed the plan as well. I learned that my body belonged to God, and because of that, I was motivated to take good care of it. I was faithful in exercising. I changed my diet to whole, real foods made by God.
A year has passed. I have led the Daniel Plan 5 times, and I’m ready to start the sixth endeavor, leading it again for Liberty students, faculty and staff. I have gone from walking the dogs to running a half marathon. I have lost 30+ pounds. I have made some wonderful friends. And I have grown closer to God.
These tools are available for everyone. If you want to know more about how God wants you to be a good steward of the body He entrusted to you, join me for The Daniel Plan. We will be meeting Tuesday nights for six weeks, starting January 28. The group will meet in the Reber-Thomas Executive Dining Room from 5:30 – 6:30. Call 582-2262 to sign up.

Baked Apple “Fries”

By Robin Quay,MS, RD, Sodexo Dietitian
I’m always looking for new, fun and fresh ways to serve healthy foods. I ran across this idea as part of The Daniel Plan (, and I thought I’d try them as a unique, interesting and healthy side dish.
Apples are a good source of Vitamin C, heart healthy and high in fiber. They are a great choice for one of the many fruit and veggie servings needed each day for good health.
Here’s how I made the apple fries:
2 Granny Smith apples (or other firm, tart apples)
Drizzle of olive oil
Sprinkling of sea salt
Sprinkling of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.
Core, peel and slice apples into sticks. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cinnamon and toss to coat. (I think using your hands to do this works best). Place apple sticks in a single layer on the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
Makes 4 servings. 105 calories, 12 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fat, 0.5 grams protein, 4 mg Vitamin C, 1.5 mg fiber
Here’s how they turned out:
apple fries
They were a little mushy, but they tasted great! Next time I make them, I’m going to bump the temperature up to 450 degrees and use the convection feature, to see if I can get them more firm and crispy on the outside.
Have fun experimenting with this recipe, and let me know how it turns out!

Tips for Affordable, Healthful Grocery Shopping

Robin Quay, MS, RD, Dietitian for Sodexo

People often tell me that the main reason they don’t eat foods that are beneficial for them is because nutritious foods cost more. Yes, fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein are expensive, but so are unhealthy foods. As I did my shopping last week, I noticed that a 10 ounce bag of Lays potato chips cost $4.29, a 12 pack of Coke was $4.99, a 1.5 quart container of Breyer’s ice cream was $6.29, it cost $4.99 for a 1 pound 3 ounce pack of Oreos, and 17 ounces of Honey Nut Cheerios was $4.19. Since I didn’t buy ANY of those things, I had $24.75 to spend on more delicious and nutritious items.

Here are some tips to help you get the most nutrition and taste from your food dollar:

Have a plan. My kids’ middle school planners had a saying in them: “We don’t plan to fail; we fail to plan”. The same is true for food shopping and healthy eating.

Before you go to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Look through your pantry and refrigerator and see what needs to be used up, and plan meals around those foods. That way, you won’t have to buy as much, and you won’t throw out as much due to spoilage. For example, this week, we are eating some chili that’s in the freezer, and using up some spinach greens that I bought last week.

Plan at least one meatless meal each week. Meat’s expensive, so you can save a lot of money by omitting it from an occasional meal. Here’s a recipe for one of my favorite meatless dinners:

Look at your grocery store’s circular and plan your meals around protein and produce items that are on special. If chicken thighs and broccoli are a good deal, then you’ll want to use them. However, be aware and avoid the many unhealthy and processed foods that are in the circular as well. NOBODY needs a pop-tart, no matter how cheap they are!

Make a list. Be sure to include foods for breakfast, lunch and snacks-not just for dinners. Don’t forget the list at home! Take it with you, and stick to it. Only buy what you need.

Here’s the exception to buying only what you need: IF something is a GREAT DEAL, and IF you can store it so it won’t spoil before it’s used, and IF you’ll use it all, and IF you have the money, then stock up on it. Just be sure to properly store it when you get home, which may include putting it into smaller containers. Studies show that when we bring a lot of food home, we tend to eat more.

Once you get to the store, shop the perimeter for nutrient dense, unprocessed foods (vegetables, fruits, meats/seafood, eggs and dairy). Shop wisely in the center aisles, as there are healthy foods there, too. That’s where you’ll find whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, wheat bread and oatmeal. Canned and dried legumes like lentils, split peas, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, cannellini beans and chick peas are great, inexpensive sources of protein, fiber, and iron. Other nutritious and healthy finds in the center aisles include canned tomato products, canned salmon and sardines, and nuts.

The international section of the grocery store is another great place to look for healthy and inexpensive foods, especially the Hispanic section. Coconut milk was $2.89 in the Asian section, but only $2.09 in the Hispanic section. I’ve also found unique things there, like whole grain orzo pasta in the kosher section.

Try store brands. Granted, there are some items to which I am brand loyal. However, store brands can save a lot of money, so it’s worth trying them and seeing how they compare for quality and taste. Many more nutritious items are available in store brands now, too, like whole wheat flour, sea salt, and organic products.

Get more tips and suggestions from the internet. One of my favorite bloggers, Lisa Leake, fed her family of 4 for 100 days on $125 a week, and used all healthy, unprocessed foods. You can read her story and learn lots of great tips on her site:

Dr. Mark Hyman, nationally recognized leader in functional medicine, has a very informative blog about how to eat well with limited financial resources and time, which you can find here:

According to David Katz, MD, There is one more angle to consider: If you don’t eat well, your medical bills could skyrocket. Experts estimate that obesity results in healthcare costs of up to $2,500 per person per year, and diabetes is easily double that. Both conditions also raise your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
So while you might pay a bit more to eat well, your savings could be immeasurable.


Superfoods: Nutrient Powerhouses

superfood heartSuperfood {soo-per food}: A real, minimally processed food that is rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Superfoods are nutrient dense, which means they contain good sources of multiple nutrients for minimal calories.
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and aromatic and brightly colored herbs and spices are all considered superfoods.
Superfoods slow the aging process, and fight against and prevent diabetes, obesity, wrinkles, and degenerative diseases. They regulate metabolism, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and protect against heart disease and cancer. Superfoods protect organs from toxins and promote digestive health. They do all these things by fighting oxidation, inflammation and toxins.
Eating a variety of superfoods will help you maintain weight, fight disease and live longer. They can also put you in a better mood!
superfoods table
Remember that no food, no matter how “super” can stand alone or replace a well-rounded healthy diet.

“Fifty to seventy percent of suffering could be eliminated by what people eat and how they move.”~ Nutritionist Elizabeth Somer

Breakfast: A Healthy Habit

By Robin Quay, MS, RD, Sodexo Dietitian

Studies show that people, who eat a healthy breakfast, have a lot of other healthy habits which help them weigh less, feel better, and have more energy for work, fitness and leisure activities. People who eat a healthy breakfast tend to eat healthier foods throughout the day, and tend to exercise. People who skip breakfast, or grab a donut or a fast food breakfast, tend to eat unhealthy foods throughout the day. They also tend to be people who don’t exercise.

Eating a healthy breakfast can be an important step on the road to health and wellness. A nutritious breakfast contributes important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to the diet, ensuring that you are getting everything you need so your body can perform efficiently. Breakfasts that contain protein and whole grains can help you feel full until lunchtime, so you avoid an unhealthy snack midmorning, reducing calorie, fat and sugar intake. It has been suggested that eating breakfast may reduce hunger during the day, leading to lower calorie intake, which can help maintain a healthy weight. The energy provided by eating breakfast may increase physical activity during the day.

A healthy breakfast should contain fruit and/or vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Here are some quick and easy ideas to get you started.

Fresh fruit and yogurt with nuts or granola topping

Whole wheat bread or toast with natural peanut butter or almond butter and fresh fruit

Eggs, whole wheat toast and fruit

Breakfast sandwich made with a whole wheat English muffin, egg, cheese, tomato and raw spinach

Oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts

Veggie omelet with whole wheat toast

Smoothie made with milk, fruit, leafy greens and nut butter (I find that these don’t have much staying power, so I eat a hard-boiled egg on the side.)

Banana with peanut butter

Whole grain cereal with milk and fruit (cereal should have at least 3 gm of fiber per serving, and no more than 6 gms of sugar per serving).

If you don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning, you can make it ahead of time. Oatmeal heats up quickly in the microwave, and hard-boiled eggs are precooked and ready when you are. A peanut butter sandwich can be made the night before.

Start with a healthy breakfast, and all kinds of good things will follow!

Acid-Base Balance: Another Reason to Eat Your Veggies and Fruits

Robin Quay, MS, RD Dietitian for Sodexo

Did you know that common foods in the standard American diet cause a state of chronic systemic metabolic acidosis? Not only does it sound horrible, it actually causes a lot of trouble for us, leading to bone loss, muscle degradation, and accelerated aging. Being in an alkaline, or basic, state is best for our health and best to avoid disease.

The good news is, what we eat can have a big impact on whether our bodies are in an acidic or alkaline state. By making the right food choices, we can protect our bones and muscles from debilitating loss.

Foods that are acid producing are meats, dairy, legumes and grains. In order to neutralize the acids produced by these foods, our bodies pull calcium from bones, and glutamine from muscles, weakening them. However, if we eat foods that are alkaline, or basic, we can counteract these effects.

Foods that are alkaline to the body are….FRUITS AND VEGGIES! It may seem like these foods, especially fruits, are acidic. Even though they’re acidic outside the body, they are alkaline inside the body. To counteract the acids produced by meats, dairy, legumes and grains, we simply need to eat 2 fist-size servings of fruits and vegetables with every meal.

How do we do this? Besides just grabbing a piece of fruit, or adding a cooked vegetable or salad to our meals, we can make fruits and vegetables, not bread or cereal, the center of breakfast. We can swap out the rice or bread at meals for starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or winter squash. We can have fresh or cooked fruits for dessert, and we can choose fresh foods over processed ones.

So save your bones. Save your muscles. Stop the wrinkles. Achieve acid-base balance. Eat more fruits and vegetables.—how-do-your-favorite-foods-stack-up.html


Wait! I am not overweight. I am under tall. Checked your BMI lately?

By guest blogger Cindy Hicks, dietetics student

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a measure of relative weight to height, and it is a reliable indicator of fatness for most people. BMI is used to assess risk of disease and death. As BMI increases, so does a person’s health risk. A BMI of 25 to 29 indicates overweight; a BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity. People with BMI’s in these categories have been shown to be more likely to have chronic illnesses and/or early deaths.

To calculate your BMI, multiply your height in inches by itself. Then, divide your weight by this number. Lastly, multiply this number by 703. Or, find your numbers on the BMI chart below. There are also BMI calculators available online, or as free phone apps.

BMI is an indicator of total body mass, but does not distinguish between fat and muscle. Some people actually should not assess themselves with BMI. Athletes, and others, who have a high amount of muscle may have a high BMI, even though they do not have a high amount of body fat. Elderly people tend to lose muscle mass, which may cause the calculations to underestimate body fat.

Waist circumference is another measurement that is a reliable indicator of disease risk and health.  Women, whose waist circumference is greater than 35 inches, and men, whose waist circumference is greater than 40 inches, have a higher risk for obesity-related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Although numbers like these are helpful to understand your health status, and risk for disease, they do not tell the whole story. Do you exercise regularly, at least 30-60 minutes 3-4 times a week? Do you eat a healthy diet, most of the time, that isn’t excessive in portions or calories? Do you smoke?-you need to quit! Do you effectively manage stress? Taking care of diet, exercise, stress, and not smoking can help you be healthier and live longer, no matter what your BMI and waist circumference numbers show.

So do not get caught up in a number!  It does not define who you are. It is only a tool to be used, along with a healthy diet and fitness program, to help you be the best you can be.

Here is a link to the BMI table: