Holiday Tips

This time a year, it is common to gather around food. Your Dietitians at Banister Nutrition wanted to give you their favorite tips and tricks for the season.

  • Look over ALL of the food on a buffet before starting through the line. Identify those foods that are special, homemade, or only appear during the holidays because they are unique holiday gifts for you to enjoy.
  • Christmas is no longer just one day in December – it goes on all month long! Enjoy the spirit of the season every day of the month, though not necessarily an abundance of food daily.
  • Enjoy the seasonal favorites. Savor the flavors of the season including peppermint, cinnamon, gingerbread, and eggnog, but realize that complete immersion into these flavors will likely decrease your enjoyment of them.
  • If you don’t love it, if it’s not awesome, or if it came from Sam’s or the grocery store, then it’s not that special. Pass it up, be selective, and hold out for a real treasure of awesomeness!
  • Honor your hunger and your fullness! Consuming Christmas treats when you are not hungry or continuing to graze when you are full robs you of pleasure and just might create guilt and shame! UGH!
  • Find a plate! It’s difficult to be aware of how much you’re eating when you nibble without a plate. Putting meals and snacks on a plate decreases mindless grazing. (This includes the cookie dough you’re tasting).
  • Thinking about skipping a meal so you can eat more at the party? This never pays off! If you want to create the perfect “out-of-control” storm, arrive at the party hungry and tired, then add a cocktail! Prolonged food deprivation makes it difficult to listen to your hunger and fullness cues, which leads to mindless or ravenous eating. Instead, enjoy a small balanced plate of lean protein, fruit, and raw veggies prior to your party so you can enjoy the treats while staying in control.
  • Hydrate-Hydrate-Hydrate—don’t neglect water! Aim for two quarts daily.
  • Delete the food police from your life as an incredible gift to yourself. The food police in your head judge food as “good” or “bad.” Then you follow that with judging yourself as good or bad, leading to guilt, shame and feeling chaotic — all of which are burdens, not gifts.
  • During the holidays we make time to cook. We cook with our families and share home-made potluck dinners. Cooking from scratch can be a healthy activity during the holidays reminding us of how gratifying and valuable preparing food can be. Hopefully it may inspire a new joy of cooking as a healthy gift for your family year round.
  • Holiday food traditions evoke memories, unite family and friends, and make us smile. We want your holiday food experiences to be enjoyed without guilt or shame. Find the time to STOP, PAUSE, and CHECK-IN to be certain your choices are reflecting your authentic desires for your self-care!

According to the dietitians at Banister Nutrition: ALL foods are OK, ALL foods are to be enjoyed, ALL foods are to be managed!

🚩Red Flags for Disordered Eating to Look for in your Children

Parents are the most effective diagnosticians of disordered eating or eating disorders. Disordered eating and eating disorders are more likely to show up at home than in physical examinations or laboratory tests. 

Is your child at risk?

  • Does your son or daughter dread family gatherings or withdraw to their room when relatives and food arrive?
  • Does your child seem moody or irritable as meal times approach?
  • Does your child complain of a stomach ache or indicate they are just not hungry when it is time to eat?
  • Does your child insist on bringing their own food to gatherings, declaring what will be served is not healthy?
  • Does your child pick at foods, cut food into tiny pieces, or play with their food, moving it around on their plate?
  • Does he or she claim to have already eaten or does not have time to eat now and will eat later?
  • Does your child say eating in front of people makes them uncomfortable?
  • Does your child disappear into the bathroom during or just after meals?
  • Does your child believe he or she is fat even though their weight is normal or possibly underweight?
  • Does your child insist on daily exercise for an hour or more or get upset if they miss a day of exercise?

There is no better time than the holidays to observe a child who may be struggling with food and weight issues, as well as related emotional problems. The appearance of disordered eating patterns is an indicator that a child is struggling with emotional problems of self-esteem and self-control, as well as considerable misinformation about food and nutritional health. 

Eating disorders grow in strength and control each day they continue to exist. Seek help from a registered dietitian who has experience working with eating disorders.

Safe Physical Activity in the Heat

The summer can be a wonderful time to enjoy outdoor activities – swimming in particular is a favorite to stay cool! But with the increased heat and sun exposure, how can we safely enjoy other activities like walking, running, riding a bike or playing an outdoor sport?


  1. Getting outside before 10 am or waiting until after 6pm is ideal for limiting sun exposure. This is important to reduce skin cancer risk, but also to keep your core temperature in a safe range! 
  2. Eat before you get active. Being in the heat is known to reduce your appetite. Normally, this is okay and your appetite will recover once you are back in the AC. However, if your goal is a good workout, skipping food is not a good idea. Fuel yourself with carbohydrates that are easily digestible before leaving the house. 
  3. Get those electrolytes! Most of us know we lose salt in our sweat, so you can maintain your electrolyte balance with a sports drink (beware of those with lots of sugar) or a powdered drink additive. We enjoy Liquid I.V. and Nuun.
  4. Stay hydrated! On a normal day, most adults require 50-70 oz of water per day. Your body’s need for water goes up in the heat, but be sure you are balancing with electrolyte intake. Consuming too much water can lead to electrolyte deficiencies that are dangerous. 


The summer can be a great time to try new hobbies and stay active, so grab that water bottle, be safe, and enjoy! 

Build a Strong Offense in Your Kitchen

We’ve heard in sports and military combat that the best defense is a strong offense. This strategy can also apply to our health when it comes to being proactive in preventing acute inflammation and disease. Nutrition plays a vital role in building a strong immune system to fight off foreign invaders. We want our immune system to be prepared in advance to defend our healthy cells against invasion of harmful bacteria and viruses.

  • The first offensive weapon in our immune system playbook is pre-planning.  By pre-planning, we prevent mealtime stress and increase the chances of achieving our healthful eating goals. The next weapon is a varied diet.  Healthy eating involves variety because our bodies need different nutrients from different foods on a daily basis. We want to include an array of food groups including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, dairy products, and healthy fats. A third strategic weapon for achieving and maintaining good health is to have plentiful antioxidants every day. All three of these strategies work together: If you focus on planning your meals in advance to incorporate variety among these food groups, it will help ensure you are consuming adequate amounts of antioxidants which serve to protect your healthy cells from damage and disease.

Some foods are receiving attention for maybe boosting and building a strong immune system. We have listed some of these below. Consider incorporating them into your recipes and meals to increase variety in your diet, provide a source of antioxidants, and add other important nutrients and fiber. However, it’s important to remember that there isn’t one food that will magically build a strong immune system and prevent disease – the key is variety at each of your three meals every day.

Healthful foods that might boost your immune system:

The foods listed below provide a variety of nutritious benefits including antioxidants such as resveratrol, lutein, avenanthramides, flavonoids, vitamins A, E, K, plus plant fibers and omega 3 fatty acids.

Oats: Use oats as an alternative to breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish, or make overnight oats for breakfast.  Recipes abound for muffins, breads, cookies, pancakes, and waffles that incorporate oats.

Leafy greens:  Kale, spinach, swiss chard, arugula . . . Dark green is an important vegetable color. The darker the color, the more nutrients present. Incorporate greens into your salads, sauté them with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, add them to soups during the last few minutes of cooking, use them as wraps in place of a tortilla, blend them into smoothies, or make a pesto sauce.

Broccoli: Add broccoli to soup, pasta sauce, pizza toppings, quinoa dishes, smoothies, slaw, stir-fry, and salads.

Red Peppers: All colors of peppers have nutritional benefits, but red peppers may be slightly higher in antioxidant and phytonutrient levels because they are riper than yellow or green peppers. Add peppers to salads, sandwiches, and stir-fry dishes.  You can make stuffed peppers, or use your blender or processer to add peppers to soups or dips.

Grapes: Mix grapes with vanilla yogurt and top with toasted pecans. Blend frozen grapes, milk, banana, and Greek yogurt for a breakfast smoothie. Sprinkle grapes into chicken or tuna salad, freeze them for a snack, or add them to salads or oatmeal.

Berries: Increase your intake of all berries. One cup daily would be great! Add berries to overnight oats, salads, and fruit parfaits. You can also dip fresh berries in yogurt and freeze for a snack.

Cinnamon:  Add cinnamon to roasted sweet potatoes, oatmeal, or baked apples.  You might also try cinnamon in granola, hot cocoa, or coffee.

Ginger:  Add a few pieces of fresh ginger in hot water to make tea, or you can add up to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger to your morning coffee. Add a bit of fresh ginger to your smoothie, choose ginger jam for your toast, or add fresh or dried ginger to homemade salad dressing.

Garlic:  Add garlic to pasta sauce, salsa, salad dressings, guacamole, soups, stews, sautéed vegetables, pizza, and mashed potatoes.

Fatty FishEnjoy some albacore or bluefin tuna, salmon, Atlantic herring, mussels, anchovies, swordfish, sardines, halibut, rainbow trout, or mackerel!

Walnuts and Almonds: Add crunch and protein to salads, oatmeal, yogurt, or any vegetable side dish with roasted or raw almonds. Incorporate them into muffins, breads, and cookies.

Chia Seeds: Try adding a couple of tablespoons to smoothies, or as a topping on yogurt, cereal, and salads. You can also use them in salad dressings, stir-fry, or as a crispy crumb coating for meat or fish. Bake them into cookies, breads, or muffins, or add them to soup, dips, or meat balls.


Consider incorporating more of these foods in your nutrition and health arsenal. Have fun!


Coping Skill Toolbox

How do you respond to stressful events or situations? 


Would you use the same tools when repairing a sink as you would to paint an old piece of furniture? No way! What might be useful for one project might not be useful for another. This is also true for stressful situations. It’s helpful to have a wide variety of coping tools within your “coping skill toolbox.” For instance, if your only form of coping is walking outside, this might not be possible when the weather is below freezing. 


When we don’t have a variety of coping skills to choose from, food oftentimes becomes a form of coping as a response to the stressful situation. This doesn’t become a problem until food is the only form of coping you have. Check out the coping skills below for some ideas to add to YOUR coping skill toolbox!

  • Read an interesting book
  • Listen to music
  • Call a friend or family member
  • Take a nap
  • Have a hot shower or bath
  • Declutter one space in your house
  • Take a ride in your car with the windows down
  • Walk or run outside in the fresh air
  • Check out an antique shop
  • Explore a new part of town
  • Start a new puzzle
  • Practice breathing techniques or meditation
  • Drink hot tea under a weighted blanket
  • Join a new club or sport
  • Volunteer at local organizations
  • Watch a movie or TV show
  • Play with your pet
  • Listen to a podcast or audiobook

If you do happen to choose food as a response to stress, that makes you 100% human. As babies, we were soothed with food when we were upset – it’s in our nature to continue this behavior into adulthood. It’s important to remember that food is not only fuel. Food is celebration, culture, and, on occasion, comfort when needed.


Pre and Probiotics: The Dynamic Duo

We’ve all heard the phrase “follow your gut.” But what if your gut is giving you confusing signals? For those with frequent constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, bloating and other uncomfortable stomach issues, this can be the case. One way to understand what your body is trying to tell you is to take a quick inventory of the things that we know help you feel your best. Fortunately, there are unique nutrients in foods called prebiotics and probiotics that can actually help manage these symptoms (and many others) and maybe even help ease troubles down the road. 


What are  Pre  and Probiotics: 

Probiotics are found in foods and supplements with live microorganisms that help to maintain and increase the number of “good” bacteria in the gut. 

On the other hand, prebiotics are nutrients found in foods (and more recently in supplements) that help to feed and balance the gut microflora, or the “good” bacteria, mentioned above. 

Prebiotics and probiotics work synergistically, or together in harmony, to build and support a healthy gut-microbiome. 


Why are  Pre  and Probiotics Important: 

When we eat pre and probiotics, our gut then has the tools to be able to: 

  • Digest or break down the foods we eat, which may help to manage or reduce unpleasant gut symptoms 
  • Control inflammation by helping the body to absorb and use nutrients effectively and efficiently 
  • Communicate with a variety of cells in the body that impact the immune system, brain function, and even mood regulation


Foods with Prebiotics: 

Think high-fiber foods like … 

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Whole grains 
  • Beans 
  • Onions, garlic, and leeks 

Foods with Probiotics: 

Think fermented or cultured foods like… 

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi 
  • Aged cheeses 



When considering the right pre or probiotic for you, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, because supplements are not regulated in the U.S., talking to your doctor or provider about the specific product you are thinking about taking is always recommended. Second, not all products are the same. There are a variety of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to name a few, and many contain additional nutrients or enzymes that may also impact function and tolerance. Unfortunately, this means some may work for you and your condition and some may work against it. This is where your healthcare team comes into play! Lastly, it is important to think about how much and how often you plan to supplement. This is to make sure you are getting all the good stuff without the potential negative side effects like additional GI discomfort and of course, loss of time and money. 


The Bottom-Line

When it comes to how you feel, even a small amount of discomfort can have an impact on your day, not to mention your food choices. Getting to the root-cause as soon as possible is key. While good nutrition is essential, it is also important to consider other factors that impact gut health like daily movement, stress management, sleep habits, and even medications such as antibiotics. Keep the conversation going with your healthcare team for tools and resources and make sure to communicate concerns you have as soon as possible. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to be proactive . . . and what better way to do that than with delicious food! 



Time-Saving Tips in the Kitchen from Your Dietitians at Banister Nutrition

When your schedule gets busy, do your food choices suffer?

Time can be a huge factor when making breakfast in the morning, packing a lunch, and/or putting a balanced meal on the table for dinner. Good news! Cooking doesn’t always have to require hours in the kitchen. The Dietitians at Banister Nutrition are letting you in on some of the kitchen shortcuts we use when we’re in a time crunch!

1. Have a plan

Having a plan for meals can help not only cut down on time spent at the grocery store, but also help cut down on time you spend during the week coming up with what to cook.

2. Chop and/or measure ahead of time

If you have free time the night before or on the weekend, spend a few minutes measuring and chopping to save time.

3. Prepare meals/sides ahead of time

Prepare 2-3 entrees and 3-4 side dishes on the weekend to save time during the week. You can mix and match to decide what sounds best each night. Make it fun by rolling a dice to choose or allowing each family member to put together a meal.

4. Use frozen/canned veggies or pre-chopped/diced veggies

Using frozen/canned veggies or pre-chopped/diced veggies can help to eliminate prep work when putting together a meal.

5. Purchase squeeze-bottle herbs

To help prevent the time you would spend removing stems and dicing into tiny pieces, try using squeeze bottle herbs.

6. Try pre-cooked meats (frozen chicken or refrigerated steak strips)

If cooking protein is a time-sucker for you, then this option is great. The nutritional value doesn’t significantly change, and it is still a great alternative to eating out.

7. Double or triple a recipe

By cooking in bulk, you can get several meals out of one time spent in the kitchen. Freeze in meal-size portions to enjoy for future use. Be sure to always label/date/keep inventory when storing foods in the freezer.

8. Keep it simple

Keeping it cold and simple may save time. Choose a fast protein like cottage cheese, a grain like Triscuit crackers, a raw veggie like baby carrots, and fresh fruit like an apple and – voila! – you have a balanced meal.

9. Don’t be afraid of compromise

If it comes down to it, consider picking up an entree out and pairing itwith a fast side dish at home, like premade bagged salad or frozen/canned veggies.


We hope you enjoy the extra time you save with these tips!

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Fajitas

The warmer temps outside make us want to gather with family and friends to enjoy the
nice weather. If you’re in need of some new one-pan-grill meals, we’re here to help!

Here’s how to make chicken fajitas in a cast iron skillet on the grill:

1. Marinate and season chicken breasts, cover, and refrigerate while you prepare
the grill.
2. Set grill to medium heat.
3. Oil the skillet and put it on the grill as it is preheating so that it starts getting up to
4. Throw seasoned, marinated chicken in until it starts to turn white.
5. Add all veggies and more seasoning/marinade.
6. Cook until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender.
7. Top with pico de gallo, jalapenos, avocado, cheese, lime, sour cream, cilantro, or
whatever you prefer!

You can make your seasoning/marinade with whatever ingredients you love and keep
on hand, or you can purchase marinade ready to go at your local grocery store. These
fajitas are simple, quick, customizable, and sure to be a hit at your next cookout!
If you prefer a side with your fajitas, you can also serve them with grilled corn salad
since the grill is already fired up!

Ingredients needed:
● 6-8 ears corn
● 2 Tbsp olive oil
● ½ red onion, diced
● ½ red bell pepper, diced
● 1 avocado, chopped and peeled

Dressing ingredients:
● 4 tbsp olive oil
● 6 tbsp apple cider vinegar
● 1 tsp sugar
● 1 tsp Dijon mustard
● Juice from 1 lime
● Salt and pepper

1. Whisk dressing ingredients together and set aside.
2. Add 1-2 inches of water to a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Add shucked corn
ears and cook for 3-4 minutes, rotating to cook on all sides. Drain water.

3. Heat grill on medium-high heat. Brush corn lightly with olive oil and grill for a
few minutes, rotating it as it cooks, until golden on all sides.
4. Allow the corn to cool and then cut corn off of the cob and add to a bowl.
Add remaining salad ingredients and drizzle with desired amount of dressing
Toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Corn salad recipe by Alyssa Rivers:

If you’re interested in how to care for a cast iron skillet or the benefits of cooking with
one, click the link below!

Air Fried Artichoke Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Air Fried Artichoke Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing


This salad is great for Summer and it stores well in the fridge. If you prefer more protein, it also tastes great paired with lemon pepper chicken! (I seasoned mine with Mrs. Dash lemon pepper seasoning)


  • 2 cans artichokes in water, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 6 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated plus more for topping, if desired


To make the Air Fryer Artichokes:

  • Pat drained artichokes well with a tea towel, then transfer to a bowl.
  • Toss artichokes with minced garlic, one tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few cracks of black pepper.
  • Transfer them to an air fryer basket and air fry for at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.
  • Once they are crispy and browned, let them cool for a couple of minutes, then slice in half. Reserve.

To Make the Dressing and Salad:

  • In a glass jar or bowl, combine the minced shallot, Dijon mustard, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  • Whisk or shake to combine.
  • Shave the Brussels sprouts thinly on a mandoline, or using a very sharp knife.
  • Add these to a large serving bowl along with the white beans, celery, artichokes and parsley.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
  • Top with a little bit more Parmesan, if desired, and serve.


*This recipe is gluten free

*Recipe and photo credit: Kathleen Ashmore

More information at:

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Category: Lunch, Dinner,Salad
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 4 servings
  • Calories: 641
  • Sugar: 9
  • Sodium: 326
  • Fat: 32
  • Saturated Fat: 6
  • Carbohydrates: 69
  • Fiber: 21
  • Protein: 27
  • Cholesterol: 11

Cast Iron Skillet Benefits

Do you know the benefits of cooking in cast iron?

  • Cast iron cookware becomes non-stick when it is well seasoned. This allows you to use less oil when cooking.
  • Cast iron lasts longer and is more durable than traditional stainless-steel pots and pans.
  • Cast iron cookware provides additional iron to the diet.
  • Cast iron retains heat well and is great for searing meat.
  • Cast iron is also quite versatile. Between skillets and Dutch ovens, you can cook a wide variety of foods. They can be used in the oven, on a traditional stovetop, or even outdoors on the grill.

Cast iron skillets differ from traditional pots and pan because they need to be seasoned, not cleaned in the traditional way.  Here’s how to season cast iron cookware:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Wash the cookware with warm water, using a small amount of soap, then dry with a towel that won’t leave lint behind.
  3. Apply a thin layer of cooking oil such as vegetable or canola. You can also buy seasoning sprays. Be sure to apply this oil to the cookware inside and out, making sure not to miss the handles!
  4. Be cautious not to use too much oil, as it can make the pan sticky.
  5. Lastly, bake the cookware upside down at 450 degrees for one hour. After it cools, it is ready to go!

Be sure to re-season your cast iron cookware from time to time, especially if you have cooked acidic foods. These can erode the seasoning. Signs that you need to re-season your skillet are when it starts looking dull gray in color or when food starts to stick. For more information on cooking with or maintaining cast iron, click the link below: