Amy Stephens


Licensed dietiTian

specializing in sports nutrition and diabetes

Marcia’s Chili con Carne

This is a great recipe, easy to make and can be made ahead of time.  Recipe can easily be adjusted to accommodate vegetarian or vegan diets.



1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 lb. ground beef/turkey or 10 oz tofu

1 – 15 oz can chopped tomatoes

2 Tbsp. chili powder

2 cloves garlic

1 cup chopped carrots

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

1 can red kidney beans

1 can Cannellini beans

1 can corn (no juice)



1.  Cook onions in oil until tender/golden.  Add carrots cook additional 5 min.

2.  Add ground beef/turkey or tofu and cook until brown.

3.  Add minced garlic

4.  Add can of tomatoes with 1/2 can boiling water

5.  In a little cup, mix chili powder, salt and sugar with cold water to create a paste.  Add to meat.

6.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Check regularly that it is not losing too much liquid.  Can easily burn on bottom.

7.  Uncover and add beans and corn.

8.  Cook for 1/2 hour longer.



Best when left over night.

Serve with sour cream and grated cheddar cheese.

Cedar Planked Salmon


  • 3 (12 inch) untreated cedar planks
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 (2 pound) salmon fillets, skin removed


  1. Soak the cedar planks for at least 1 hour in warm water. Soak longer if you have time.
  2. In a shallow dish, stir together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Place the salmon fillets in the marinade and turn to coat. Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes, or up to one hour.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat. Place the planks on the grate. The boards are ready when they start to smoke and crackle just a little.  This recipe can be done in an oven by placing cedar planks on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
  4. Place the salmon fillets onto the planks and discard the marinade. Cover, and grill for about 20 minutes. Fish is done when you can flake it with a fork. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill.


4 Bean Soup Recipes

Here are some great high-fiber, low calorie soup recipes that are easy to prepare. Each recipe contains mostly vegetables, beans, and herbs with little oil or parmesan cheese for flavor. They are filling and are a great substitute for green salads in the winter. You can make a large amount and keep separated into portions to grab and heat up for a quick healthy meal.

Three Bean Minestrone

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 cup cooked (or canned, drained and rinsed) pinto beans
1 cup cooked (or canned, drained and rinsed) white kidney beans, cannelloni or Great Northern beans
1 cup cooked (or canned, drained and rinsed) light or dark red kidney beans
8 cups water or broth
rind from a small piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
2 zucchini, diced
2 medium red tomatoes, diced
4 cups baby spinach
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
optional – 6 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated

In a large stock pot over low heat, combine the olive oil and onions. Sweat the onions until wilted and soft, about 10 minutes. Add carrots and cook 3 minutes. Add celery, beans, water and Parmigiano-Reggioano rind and cook for about 20 minutes.

Add diced zucchini and cook for another 20 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices, cover and cook at a low simmer for at least 30 more minutes.

Add spinach, season with kosher salt and black pepper, and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Serves 6.

Nutritional Info for 1 1/2 cups serving size
Calories: 280, Total fat: 16 g, Carb: 28gm, Fiber 10g, Protein 12 gm

Afternoon Bean and Turkey Soup
I found this recipe at

1 or 2 turkey carcasses
½ cup dry light red kidney beans
½ cup small red beans
2 small or l large onion, chopped
1 – 2 cups peeled and sliced carrots
¼ green or sweet red pepper
4 stalks of celery and heart, including any leaves that are fresh and green
1 – ½ teaspoons dry thyme
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon season salt
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dry parsley or ½ cup fresh
½ cup brown rice or whole grain
1 p.m. — Put 1 or 2 turkey carcasses in a large stockpot.
Cover with water. Simmer for 1 – 2 hours.
3 p.m. — Sort and rinse beans. Add beans to the pot. Simmer.
4 p.m. — Remove turkey from the pot to a platter. Cool. Add vegetables, herbs and spices. Simmer. Pull bones apart and remove meat and skin. Cut meat into small pieces. Stir the mixture to check for bones and gristle. Remove and discard all bones and gristle. Return meat to pot.
5 p.m. — Rinse brown rice in a sieve and add to the soup. Simmer.
6 p.m. — Serve with crackers or whole wheat bread, glass of milk and fruit dessert.
Refrigerate or freeze and label any leftovers for future use.
If you need to start later, combine steps. Two hours is the minimum cooking time to make a good broth, cook the meat off the bones and tenderize the beans. Brown rice needs 45 minutes to cook. Add or substitute the vegetables and seasoning your family prefers or you have available.
4 p.m. — Put everything but the rice in the pot. Use high heat, stir and tend the pot until it simmers. It will take 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer.
5 p.m. — Add the brown rice.
5:45 p.m. remove the carcass. Return the meat to the soup and serve.

Nutrient information for 1 1/2 cups serving size: 144 calories, 7 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates,
7 g fiber

Kale and White Bean Soup
Created by Chef Ann Cooper. Featured at the 2013 Beans For A Better Life seminar in Dallas, Texas.

1½ cups onion, diced
1½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp garlic, minced
½ lb. (dry weight) cannellini beans, cooked (roughly 2½ cups cooked)
4 cups vegetable stock (plus a bit more to adjust liquid to your personal taste)
1 bay leaf
½ tsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups carrots, medium dice
7 cups kale, chopped
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Makes 8 servings.

Sauté onions in oil for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Add cooked beans, stock, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add carrots and cook another 5 minutes.
Add kale and cook about 12 minutes or until kale is tender. Add more vegetable stock if your soup needs more liquid, and warm through.
Check seasoning, adjust as needed, and serve sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Info for 1 1/2 cups serving size
Calories 171, Total fat 5.1g, Carb 20gm, Fiber 5.5g, Protein 10gm

– See more at:

Lentil Soup

**Can use less oil to lower calorie content.**

1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry French lentils
8 cups water
1/2 cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vinegar
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Makes 6 servings


In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper, and more vinegar if desired.

Nutritional Info for 1 1/2 cups serving size
Calories 340, Total fat 10g, Carb 44gm, Fiber 21g, Protein 17gm

Helpful Information on Trans-fats

Thought this information will be helpful to understand the impact of trans-fat on health. I always thought trans-fats had similar impact of saturated fats. I encourage my patients to avoid trans-fats because the foods that typically have them are processed and have very little nutrition value. Foods with trans-fats won’t be missed.

Trans-fat free foods are not good for us. I’m sure food marketers will promote products as “trans-fat free” so we think we can eat as much as we want. Just remember, total calories and portion size is still important to consider when making food choices.

A brief history of artificial trans fats
The Food and Drug Administration’s decision to remove artificial trans fats from the American food supply was a long time coming. Public health experts and activists have been trying for nearly 20 years to get the fats removed from foods served in restaurants and sold in stores. In its announcement Thursday, the FDA said the ban would prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths due to heart disease each year. Here’s a look at the history of trans fats.

Source: LA Times. 11/8/13,0,3204327.photogallery#axzz2k44MVCNJ

These are foods that might have trans fats in them

— Cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, and some breads like hamburger buns.

— Hard margarine (stick margarine) and vegetable shortening.

— Pre-mixed products (cake mix, pancake mix, and chocolate drink mix).

— Fried foods (doughnuts, French fries, fried chicken including chicken nuggets, and hard taco shells).

— Snack foods (potato, corn, and tortilla chips; candy; packaged or microwave popcorn).

Source: Department of Agriculture, Washington Post. 11/8/13

Q&A: What are trans fats anyway, and why are they so bad?

What is a trans fat, and why is it so dangerous that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants it removed from the food supply?

These are just some of the questions on the minds of diners as they digest Thursday’s FDA action. Although consumption of artificial trans fats is already on the decline, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said further reductions could save 7,000 lives each year.

Need help understanding this news? Read on:

What is a trans fat?

These fats – also known as trans fatty acids – are made by adding hydrogen to liquid oil, which turns it into a solid, like margarine or Crisco. This makes it a handy ingredient for processed food manufacturers, since it improves the texture, stability and shelf life. It’s also inexpensive. Today, it’s often used in foods including microwave popcorn, coffee creamers, packaged cookies, cans of frosting and frozen pizza, among others.

Where does it come from?

Trans fats are a natural component of animal products such as milk and meat. The FDA says that it is synthesized in the guts of grazing animals.

Artificial trans fats were invented in 1901 by Wilhelm Normann. The German chemist added hydrogen gas to liquid oils and came up with a cheaper alternative to natural products like lard and butter. For many years, these partially hydrogenated oils were believed to be safer than trans fats from animals, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI. But by the early 1990s, epidemiologists were realizing that the fats contributed to heart disease.

Why are trans fats bad for your health?

It’s not just bad, it’s doubly bad. For one thing, it increases blood levels of the “bad” cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein. High levels of LDL increase one’s risk of coronary heart disease, including angina, heart attacks and other potentially fatal problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To make matters worse, researchers also believe that trans fats reduce blood levels of high-density lipoprotein, the “good” cholesterol. HDL appears to reduce heart risks by funneling blood cholesterol to the liver, where it’s broken down and removed from the body. There’s also evidence that HDL slows the buildup of dangerous plaques in the arteries, the American Heart Assn. says.

CSPI, the nonprofit advocacy group that petitioned the FDA to require labeling of trans fats way back in 1994, has declared artificial trans fats “the most harmful fat of all” on a gram-per-gram basis.

Haven’t trans fats been banned already?

In some places, yes. In 2006, New York City became the first city to prohibit the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries. California passed a law to phase out their use in restaurants in 2008. The first country to virtually ban artificial trans fats was Denmark, which took that action in 2003.

What about foods I buy in the grocery store?

Many food makers have reformulated their products to remove artificial trans fats – and when they do, they often tout their success on packages. Some examples of processed foods that are now trans-fat-free include Oreo cookies, Cheetos, Pop–tarts and instant Jell–O pudding.

So what exactly happened on Thursday?

The FDA announced its intent to remove partially hydrogenated oils from its list of ingredients that are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). That would effectively prevent food makers from using it in their products. Members of the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal. If it takes effect, it would mark the first time since 1969 an item has been removed from the GRAS list. (Then, the artificial sweetener cyclamate was knocked off the list due to concerns about bladder cancer, liver damage and birth defects. Subsequent studies have found it to be safe in humans.)

Remind me again – what are partially hydrogenated oils?

These are the primary source of artificial trans fats. (Think of Wilhelm Normann adding hydrogen gas to liquid oils a century ago.)

Will this FDA action improve my health?

There’s good evidence that removing trans fats from foods – both through government regulation and voluntarily measure by industry – has already improved the nation’s health.

To cite just one example: Researchers from the CDC examined concentrations of trans fatty acids in blood samples collected as part of its ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that between 2000 and 2009, levels of four types of trans fatty acids fell by an average of 58%. They reported their results last year in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

Another study based in part on the survey’s data calculated that the average American consumed 1.3 grams of artificial trans fats per day between 2003 and 2006. That’s a significant reduction from the 4.6 grams that the FDA said each American adult was eating every day (on average) in 2003. These findings were published in 2012 in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants.

If trans fats are so awful, shouldn’t I reduce my consumption to zero?

Not necessarily. It would be great to eliminate all artificial trans fats from your diet, but remember that some trans fats occur naturally in meat and dairy products. Unless you’re a vegan, you’ll probably keep eating some of the fats.

But you shouldn’t necessarily freak out about this. The Institute of Medicine considered this very question in a 2005 report and concluded that reducing trans fat consumption to zero would cause radical changes in diet that might deprive people of protein and essential micronutrients. The health consequences of this are “unknown and unquantifiable.”

Source: LA Times 11/8/13.

Best Healthy Diet for Weight Loss

Patients are always asking me which diet plan is best for overall health and weight loss. US News published a thorough review of most popular diet plans (link below). DASH diet, which was designed to treat hypertension, was ranked best overall. DASH focuses on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and it’s easy to follow. Patients fill up on fruits and vegetables resulting in less room to eat the other high-calorie foods. Lower intake of sodium reduces bloating and water retention. This diet is great if you want to lose weight without counting calories and improve blood pressure, cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease.

DASH diet was created to lower salt intake. The majority of Americans eat too much salt. The recommended daily maximum is 2,300 mg., but if you’re 51 or older, African-American, or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, that limit is 1,500 mg. DASH has specific meal plans for both sodium limits.

Click here for full article:

Sample Menu

Here’s a day of typical meals on a 2,000-calorie DASH diet.


¾ cup bran flakes cereal (¾ cup shredded wheat cereal) with 3/4 cup berries and 1 cup low-fat milk
1 slice whole-wheat bread with 1 tsp. (unsalted) butter or 1/4 Avocado


2 slices whole-wheat bread
3-4 oz low-sodium chicken breast or turkey breast
1 tbsp. Dijon (regular) mustard
½ cup fresh cucumber slices
½ cup tomato wedges
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds or chopped almonds (unsalted)
2 tbsp viniagrette (either red wine or Balsamic)


3 oz. Grilled/Baked Chicken or Fish
1 cup green beans, sautéed with ½ tsp. canola oil
1 small baked potato topped with 1 tbsp. fat-free sour cream, 1 tbsp. grated, reduced-fat natural (low-sodium) cheddar cheese and 1 tbsp. chopped scallions
1 small whole-wheat roll with 1 tsp. (unsalted) soft margarine/butter
1 small apple
1 cup low-fat milk


1 rice cake (low-sodium)
1/3 cup almonds, unsalted
¼ cup raisins
½ cup fat-free, no-sugar-added fruit yogurt


How can a Registered Dietitian help you

I’ve heard many times, “Which foods are the best to eat?” or “I became a vegetarian to lose weight”. Often times, patients end up in my office having difficulty adhering to strict elimination meal plans or are so confused by the rules of a specific diet. The posting below, by, Staci Lyons, is a great explanation about how a registered dietitian professional can help create an individual nutrient dense meal plan that is based on sound nutrition information.

Posted on
By Staci Lyons
Pinnacle Medical Wellness

The food that we eat and the events that take place during digestion is a complex science.

Few understand these complexities beyond the limited scope of what might be remembered from an eighth grade health class. What’s worse is the constant presentation of poor and sometimes even false information about this process and the way in which it affects our bodies.

When surveyed, most Americans admit to taking much of their dietary cues from friends and family or the media. Unfortunately, friends and family are often just as misinformed. The media, particularly those groups involved in the marketing of products that we consume, can often provide misleading information in an effort to sell more of their products. Are sports drinks really a good source of hydration? Is the Paleo diet that the neighbor raves about really the answer to shedding unwanted pounds? Is the barbecue chicken wrap a healthy alternative when ordering at the burger restaurant named after a red bird? Warning: The answer to that one may be shocking!

The end result of this confusion is that many individuals live day to day in a constant state of dysfunction — their bodies protesting with the warning signs of fatigue, inflammation, undesired weight gain, and illness. Poor nutrition and dietary habits are problems that carry serious consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10 percent of Americans are now diabetic with an additional 30 percent classified as pre-diabetic. Poor diet is identified as the primary cause of Type 2 diabetes. A recent study points to a very strong link between obesity and breast cancer. The list goes on and on.

Of course, most individuals do not purposely aim to maintain unhealthy eating habits. A registered dietitian can help make sense of this scientific puzzle.

As a qualified medical professional, an RD is able to provide an individualized plan and the education needed to optimize body function and help cut through some of the misinformation. A registered dietician is licensed through the state and earned a four-year degree from an accredited university which is an important point to contrast against the qualifications and education of others that may offer nutrition counseling at the local gym or the late night infomercial.

Dietary counseling is a growing discipline. Where once difficult to find, registered dietitians can now be found practicing in our community.

Ask your physician or physical therapist about recommending a registered dietitian. It might be a good investment of time and money as a way of avoiding the financial and personal consequences of poor health.