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Nutrient Spotlight: Iodine

Nutrient Spotlight: Iodine

Written by: Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CSCPCC, CNSC

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Pediatric Critical Care Nutrition, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician

The world of nutrition in the media is too often narrowly focused on energy intake and macronutrient balance, which oversimplifies the field of nutrition and the foods we eat. If we only focus on carbohydrates, fat, and protein, we give less attention to micronutrients, which are often overlooked, but vital for our bodies to function. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, which are nutrients often taken for granted. These vitamins and minerals rarely make it on a Nutrition Facts Label or in the media about their importance. However, if we don’t consume enough of these powerful nutrients, we can show signs of deficiency and experience complications. Fortunately, our body does not need large amounts of micronutrients, just as their name implies. When we consume a varied diet with foods from all food groups, we ensure that our body receives the wide range of micronutrients it needs, without having to keep track of every microgram consumed. However, there are some micronutrients that certain populations and specific diets need to be aware of to make sure our bodies are nourished with the nutrients we need.

One of these important micronutrients is iodine. Iodine is a mineral that plays a significant role in thyroid hormones. Our thyroid hormones impact our growth, development, and metabolism. Thyroid deficiency can lead to goiters, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Severe iodine deficiency can result in impaired neurological status. It’s important to mention that consuming too much iodine can also be detrimental and cause thyroid disorders as well.

Foods that contain high amounts of iodine include seafood. Other good food sources of iodine include dairy and poultry. Many Americans receive their iodine intake through iodized table salt. Now more than ever before, heart healthy nutrition is on the forefront of many people’s goals, so many people are removing salt at the dinner table and opting for salt-free alternatives. Many people are also choosing non-iodized salt versions such as sea salt and Himalayan salt. These salt varieties do not contain iodine. Although processed foods are often high in salt, food manufacturers do not typically use iodized salt during processing. This is another reason why iodine intake can be suboptimal. Restricting iodized salt in an effort to decrease high blood pressure or the risk of developing high blood pressure is a heart-healthy plan. However, the reduction of iodized salt intake can place some individuals at risk of not eating enough iodine, especially those who follow a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diet. Another high-risk group of inadequate iodine intake are pregnant and lactating women. Inadequate intake during pregnancy and lactation can result in fetal hypothyroidism, impaired neurological development, and premature birth. Breastfed infants whose mothers do not consume enough iodine are also at risk for deficiency with similar symptoms.

Pregnant women require 220 mcg per day and lactating women require 390 mcg per day iodine. For pregnant and lactating women, it’s important to ensure that your prenatal multivitamin contains at least 150 mcg of iodine. Additional iodine can come from the diet in addition to the prenatal multivitamin. Since iodine plays such a significant impact on a growing baby, it’s important to ensure mom has enough intake herself. Unfortunately, not all prenatal/postnatal multivitamins contain iodine in sufficient amounts or at all! Be on the lookout on the Supplement Facts label to scan for iodine and the amount provided. For vegans, vegetarians, and those following a plant-based diet, eating sea-based foods such as seaweed can help increase iodine intake. Other food sources that contain iodine but to a lesser extent include navy beans and baked potatoes. The option to take an iodine supplement or a multivitamin that contains iodine is important and often recommended for these populations. Men and non-pregnant/lactating women need 150 mcg iodine per day. Children need 90-120 mcg iodine per day based on their age.

If you think your iodine intake may not be enough or you find it difficult to eat enough iodine in a day, talk with your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or Certified Nutrition Specialist to review your intakes and evaluate if you need additional iodine or supplementation. We have a database of recipes and offer individualized meal plans to meet your own nutrition needs. Choosing iodine-rich meals and snacks can help boost your intake and support a nourishing, balanced diet . We will individualize a nutrition plan with recommendations tailored just for you to meet your specific needs.

Nuleeu Recipe Favorite: Cozy Almond Oat Banana Bread 

Nuleeu Recipe Favorite: Cozy Almond Oat Banana Bread 

Written by: Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CSCPCC, CNSC

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Pediatric Critical Care Nutrition, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician

Cooler weather and holiday spirits are here in full swing! If you have that oven baking and traditional dishes cooking, you may be looking for a simple breakfast, snack, or dessert to bake and have on hand. This is a great snack to fuel your body before a workout or to refuel your body after exercising. Or warm it up in the microwave and serve with a glass of soy milk for a cozy warm breakfast or after dinner snack. How does 8 simple ingredients sounds? You may already have all the ingredients on hand! Bonus: your kitchen and home are guaranteed to smell like a holiday candle with this nourishing recipe! 

Our Cozy Almond Oat Banana Bread is the perfect recipe to bake, store, and freeze to have ready now and all year long! The best part is just how simple it is to make and the variations are endless!

Inside our super simple nourishing bread are old fashioned rolled oats. Oats are loaded with fiber, which helps to keep you full longer. Fiber also helps to keep us regular and can reduce LDL-cholesterol levels. Fiber is also great at maintaining good blood sugar control. Oats are also rich in phosphorus, magnesium, thiamine, and zinc!

Almonds help to add a tiny crunch to our bread. Almonds are a good source of monounsaturated fat, fiber, and protein. Almonds are also loaded with vitamin E and manganese. Vitamin E is critical to maintain our skin and eye health. It also acts as an antioxidant and keeps our blood healthy. Manganese plays an important role in our metabolism.

We substitute a flax “egg” for typical eggs in this recipe. This switch still gives the recipe some protein, but also adds a boost of fiber, polyunsaturated fat, and antioxidants. Flaxseeds are also effective at reducing LDL-cholesterol, and have high amounts of lignans, which are plant phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens play a role in preventing diabetes and some cancers. This nutrition combination makes flaxseeds a cardioprotective food. To make a flax egg, mix 1 tablespoon ground flax with 3 tablespoons hot water. Combine with a whisk or fork and let the combination sit. As the flax egg cools, it will congeal a bit and resemble the texture of egg whites.

Bananas help to add sweetness, while also providing potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. Feel free to use ripe or extra ripe bananas for this recipe. The more ripe, the more moist your bread will be! Either way, bananas are the perfect addition to round out this recipe.

The simple spices in this recipe include cinnamon and nutmeg. These common yet powerful spices have strong nourishing properties! Did you know that cinnamon has the ability to regulate blood sugar? Did you know that both cinnamon and nutmeg have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties? Spices are jam-packed with nutrition in such small volumes!

Feel free to experiment with different nuts in this recipe: pecans, walnuts, or even pistachios! You may like to add 1 cup of dried cranberries, raisins, or chopped dates for some extra sweetness and chewy texture, while also adding a serving of fruit! We love getting creative in the kitchen, so let us know what you think of our cozy bread!

Cozy Almond Oat Banana Bread

Servings: 8


4 medium ripe bananas

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup whole almonds

2 flax “eggs” (2 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds with 6 Tbsp. hot water, combined until gel-like)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine all ingredients into a blender and combine until smooth. Pour batter into the pan.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center is cooked entirely and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Reduce Grocery Shopping Stress

Reduce Grocery Shopping Stress

Written by: Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CSCPCC, CNSC

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Pediatric Critical Care Nutrition, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician

Not too long ago did we have simple grocers. The shops were small and personable. They’d have what you needed, but perhaps just one type or brand of the product you were looking for. Today, grocery stores are superstores, housing not only our food, but often times a one-stop-shop to also get your prescriptions, clothes, and home goods. Many grocery stores even have coffee shops, bars, or full restaurants inside! The sheer magnitude of these stores can be overwhelming as you search aisle to aisle for the simplest ingredients. Today there’s also more choices than ever. This has been a wonderful advancement and opportunity for consumers, especially those who follow specific diets or are looking for alternative products to avoid allergens. In addition, manufacturer competition has also increased consumer options. Just think about how long that marinara sauce aisle is… or the yogurt section! The options can be overwhelming and these feelings are very common.

We have some tips to help you navigate the grocery giants, learning where to start, how to plan, and how to shop and save time while reducing stress and anxiety.

When it comes to planning your grocery trip, let’s start with the importance of meal planning. The only way we’ll know what to purchase at the store is if we identify what we need. Check out our post about meal planning to get you started. Meal planning can be very detailed or simple and straightforward. Choose whichever approach works best for you! As you meal plan, take note of which grocery items you already have on hand and which items you need to purchase. Some people prefer to use a pad and paper, others build lists in their phone, while some like to use the grocery store’s app itself. Your Nuleeu App gives you access to meal plans and provides you with a pre-generated grocery list. This is an excellent tool if you’re just starting out!

As you build your list or when you finish your list, take a few moments to organize it. This is an important step that can help save you time, while reducing anxiety and frustration. One of the most helpful ways to organize your list is by listing the items in order of your grocery store path. So for example, if you start in the produce section, list all fruits and vegetables and items from that area first. Then if you head to the deli or bakery, list those items next. Continue to organize your list in this way through the aisles. It can be helpful to leave refrigerated or frozen items until the end if possible so that they stay as cold as possible during your shopping trip. For example, if you purchase yogurt and place it in your cart first and then shop for 30 minutes, that yogurt is out at room temperature for longer than if you saved it to pick up at the end of your shopping trip. Organizing your list in this fashion can help you avoid going back and forth throughout the store. Many store apps even tell you the aisle the food can be found in, so you can plan ahead from the comfort of your home without having to memorize the store aisles! If you take a few minutes to organize your list now, you can confidently march into your grocery store with a plan in place to get in and out as quickly as you’d like.

As you shop throughout the store, keep referencing your grocery list for what you need. Each aisle can bring temptation with advertisements and sales. Use your grocery list as the source of truth to purchase just what you need. This can help you stay on track with your nutrition and wellness goals, while also helping to stick to your grocery budget. For example, if an item is on sale at two for $6, it’s ok to purchase just one item if that’s all you need. You’ll still get the sale price, while sticking to your budget and grocery needs. If you have coupons or savings on your phone app, take a moment to review your items and gather your coupons before checkout. Run through your grocery list one more time, checking to make sure you didn’t forget anything. 

Discuss your nutrition and wellness goals with your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian or Certified Nutrition Specialist. We will help to individualize additional meal planning and shopping recommendations to meet your specific needs. Utilize your Nuleeu resources in our Nuleeu app and desktop portal! Happy shopping!

Four Tips for Picky Eaters

Four Tips for Picky Eaters

Written by: Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CSCPCC, CNSC

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Pediatric Critical Care Nutrition, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician

We’ve all been there: cooking or preparing a meal for a friend or loved one, young or older, who has limited foods they enjoy because of picky eating. Notice I don’t just mention kids here. Picky eaters are all different ages! Even eating out can pose a challenge for a picky eater. Perhaps you even find yourself to be a picky eater! A variety of foods helps to ensure we eat a wide range of nutrients, so when someone is a picky eater with limited foods they like, it may be difficult to meet their nutrient needs. Follow these tips to help increase the variety of foods your picky eater eats!

  1. Be a Role Model

Monkey see, monkey do… right? One of the most influential methods to encourage a picky eater to try new foods is to be a role model and include them on your plate! For example, if you’re out at a restaurant and your little one orders a kid’s meal and has a choice of a side dish, many families and kids may default to selecting French fries. You may substitute or choose a side of broccoli or apple slices in place of French fries for your little one. Then, when you go to order your meal, and you select French fries, it sets up a double standard at the table. Consider being a role model and substituting broccoli or a baked potato instead of fries. Another option may be to consider ordering fries and a side vegetable. You can then eat the vegetable alongside your your little one and split the fries at the table. This tip doesn’t only apply to kids though. Putting your health and wellness first is contagious! If you choose to nourish yourself with a balanced meal, family members and friends may also follow in suit because your motivation can be powerful!

  1. Offer, Offer, Offer

This tip is most useful when helping young picky eaters broaden their food choices. It can take as little as 5 and as many as 20 exposures to a new food before a child may accept it! These exposures should be a positive, pressure-free experience. So the lesson here is: don’t give up! Let’s keep introducing new foods to nourish our little ones. Repeated exposure helps to bring a sense of normalcy and routine. It can help reduce fear and decrease the newness of a food. Although this tip requires some significant patience, the reward can be worth it to nourish our little ones with a variety of foods rich in different colors from all food groups.

  1. Try Different Preparations and Recipes

An effective approach to increasing food acceptance is trying unfamiliar or often refused foods in different ways. Foods are so wonderful in their ability to change flavor, texture, and even nutrient content based on their preparation. Think of the flavor and texture differences between raw carrots and cooked carrots or raw apple slices vs cooked apples. The flavor and texture differences are so different, it’s like it’s an entirely new food! So, if you or a loved one dislike roasted Brussels sprouts, try shaved, raw Brussels sprouts in a salad drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette! Raw Brussels sprouts offer a phenomenal crunch! Trying topping your salad with dried cranberries, feta cheese, shelled pistachios, and/or pomegranate seeds. If you dislike cooked quinoa in savory dishes such as stir fries, try replacing it for your oatmeal cereal in the morning. Top morning quinoa with nuts, dried fruit, and cinnamon! Or have quinoa as a cold side dish, replacing your favorite pasta salad recipe with quinoa. Have a look at our Nuleeu app or the desktop, cloud-based platform, which offer a large database of recipes with nourishing ingredients prepared in many different ways. Include your picky eater in the cooking and preparation of these foods! Getting accustomed to these foods helps to build confidence and increase acceptance.

  1. Keep It Positive

Thinking, talking, and hearing positive statements are motivating! When we are encouraged to nourish our bodies and we know why we should choose them, we have more motivation to try new foods. Instead of being told to do something “just because” or “because I said so,” we’re more receptive to recommendations when we know the reasons behind the suggestions. Touch base with your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian or professional coach to discuss which foods you avoid and why it would be beneficial to include them and/or find a substitution. For example, if you avoid leafy greens, you may benefit from learning about the vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, and antioxidants they offer. We can brainstorm together different recipes of how to include leafy greens or which spices and herbs compliment them to make them taste delicious for you! For children and younger adults, we encourage the same! Talk about the foods on the dinner table, when you pack lunches, or when you’re shopping at the grocery store. Talk about how beautiful artichokes are or how pineapples have such a unique shape and texture! If you’re encouraging milk or soy milk in place of soda, explain that foods from the dairy food group help to keep our bones strong!

You may choose to use some or all of these tips depending on which picky eater you have on your hands. Work with your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian or professional coach to provide additional, personalized recommendations just for you!

Nutrient Spotlight: Protein

Nutrient Spotlight: Protein

Written by: Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CSCPCC, CNSC

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Pediatric Critical Care Nutrition, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician

We’ve all heard about the importance of including adequate protein in our diets, but have you ever been told why? Just how much protein do you actually need and which foods are good sources of protein besides meat? Today we’re going to review the importance of this vital nutrient, provide you with information about how much you may need, and which foods are excellent sources of protein. To learn more about the background of protein and the other macronutrients, check out this Nuleeu blog post.

Protein plays a critical role in our nutrition and nourishing our bodies. Our body is made up of trillions of cells, which are all made of protein, along with other molecules. It is well known that protein is important to maintain muscle mass and replenish muscle turnover after exercising. Our muscles are not the only parts of our body made up of protein, but our organs are muscles too. Protein not only makes up the building blocks of our bodies, but also plays a critical role in maintaining our immune system. With adequate protein our immune system can function at its best by fighting off infection and healing when needed. A strong immune system with adequate protein can heal wounds, combat inflammation, and ensure an adequate immune defense. Protein is also important for adequate hair growth, as well as skin and nail development. Additionally, adequate protein helps maintain appropriate mental function.

Now that we know the significance of protein, it’s important to know that everyone has different protein needs. Protein requirements also vary for each individual throughout their life. Factors that influence protein needs include your age, gender and pregnancy/lactation if applicable, physical activity level, body size and type, as well as any underlying health conditions just to name a few. All of these variables can increase or decrease your protein needs. On average, a very general estimate of protein needs for a healthy adult is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. For example, someone who weighs 200 pounds may need 72 grams of protein per day. Working with your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian or professional coach is the best way you can get an accurate estimate of your individual protein needs.

Now that you may have an idea of how much protein you need, let’s review a variety of good sources of protein. A common question we receive is if a protein shake is necessary to meet daily protein needs. Protein shakes, supplements, powders, and bars are generally not required to meet daily protein goals when you consume a well-balanced diet. In fact, many of us easily meet and surpass our daily protein needs without even realizing it! Protein is found in all 5 food groups as well, but its richest sources are in the protein, dairy, and grains food groups. Protein foods are rich in protein as demonstrated by its food group name. Both animal- and plant-based foods are excellent sources of protein in this category. Animal-based protein examples are common and well known, such as seafood, beef, pork, and poultry. Plant-based foods rich in protein include beans, nuts, soy (soy milk, soy yogurt, tempeh, edamame), and seeds. Other foods rich in protein include oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat from the grains food group and milk, yogurt, and cheese from the dairy group. Not all plant-based dairy foods are rich in protein, so refer to the Nuleeu App, your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian, or the Nutrition Facts Label to determine if the food is a good source of protein. Not all 20 amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are found in every protein food, so eating a variety of protein-rich foods helps to ensure adequacy.

It may come as a surprise just how much protein is in the above mentioned protein foods. For example, 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast (about the size of your palm or a deck of cards) provides approximately 24 grams of protein. In the example above, if a person only needs 72 grams of protein all day, this 3 ounces of grilled chicken already provide one-third of the person’s daily goal! Adding 1/2 cup of black beans to your chicken tacos or grilled chicken breast salad will provide about 7 grams of more protein. For breakfast, 1/2 cup of rolled oats provides 7 grams of protein. Mix in 1 cup soy milk for 6 grams of protein, add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter for an additional 8 grams of protein, sprinkle in 1 tablespoon chia seeds for 2 more grams of protein, and top with 1 sliced banana to add about 1 gram additional protein. This simply delicious, protein-packed breakfast provides another 24 grams of protein. 

Counting protein needs is not required nor recommended, except in very few cases for a small, select population who require keeping track or determining baseline protein intakes. Most importantly, being aware of the importance of protein and which foods are good protein sources is the goal to help you choose protein-rich foods throughout the day to nourish your body. Discuss your individual nutritional needs and goals with your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian or professional coach to review your individual recommendations.