How this Dietitian is Snacking on Super Bowl Sunday

I recently attended a conferchili_012610p10104141ence where both turkey (National Turkey Federation) and beans (Bush Brothers and Company) sponsored scientific sessions. I was not asked to write this post, do not serve as a consultant for either company, nor was I compensated for writing this article.

I am excited for the Atlanta Falcons playing in the big game on Sunday, and with the game comes parties and snacks, lots of snacks.  According to some sources, 49 million cases of beer, 100 million chicken wings, and 139 million avocados (for guacamole, of course) will be purchased in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. But, this year, I’m taking two of my favorite foods in that quintessential football dish to a Super Bowl party…chili. Not just any chili, but one with ground turkey and black beans.

Ground turkey breast is a great canvas for chili as it takes on the flavors from the tomatoes and spices and contributes to texture, taste, and nutrition. Turkey is a great source of lean protein without the excess saturated fat of other popular chili meats. Beans are also a good source of protein with the added benefit of containing soluble fiber. Bean have super powers: as part of a healthful diet, beans can lower blood sugar, blood pressure, blood lipids, and increase satiety (that means you might not look longingly at the platter of wings because you are full and satisfied after eating a bowl of my chili!) Associate professor of nutritional sciences and researcher on the health benefits of beans and peas at the University of Toronto, Dr. John Sievenpiper, is also a staff physician. He sees patients with diabetes and heart disease and those at high risk for developing chronic diseases. He writes prescriptions for his patients to eat a healthful diet (the “portfolio diet”) including beans and peas for the protein and fiber. I wish more doctors would write prescriptions for healthy diets! (For more information on the Portfolio Diet see )

Enjoy the chili and the game, and, of course, we will be hoping the Falcons come home with a victory.

Turkey Black Bean Chili (I’m not sure of the origins of this dish, but I’ve been making it for many years)

16-ounces of ground turkey breast

1 medium onion, chopped

2 Tablespoons of chili powder

Dash or red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

2 cans diced tomatoes (I like the diced tomatoes for chili)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen or canned (drained) whole kernel corn

14-ounces unsalted chicken stock

Brown turkey over medium heat and separate into crumbles; cook and stir for about 7 minutes or until turkey is browned. Stir in onion and spices and continuing cooking for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, corn, and stock and bring to a low boil. Transfer to chili to a crock pot and cook on low for several hours or until ready to serve at the Super Bowl party. Top with grated cheddar or jalapeno jack cheese, plain Greek yogurt, and a dash of hot sauce for those who like chili extra spicy.

Makes 6-8 servings


How this Dietitian had an OMG Moment

Some of the information in this post was obtained from a conference partially sponsored by DSM and a session they presented, featuring Dr. David Katz from the U.S. and Dr. Hilary Jones from the U.K. I was not asked to include this information on my blog, I am not a consultant for DSM, nor am I being compensated to write this post.


My OMG moment was really an MG moment; (the Greek symbol for omega) standing for my blood levels of omega-3 fats (called the Omega 3 Index). I recently used a home test kit to uncover my blood level of these important fats. I have my cholesterol and triglycerides checked every year, but never thought about checking omega-3 levels. I pricked my finger, collected a drop of blood, and send it off in the mail; the results came back and they weren’t good (For more information on the test, see

As a dietitian, I know I should eat more omega-3-rich fatty fish, as the American Heart Association recommends. But, I grew up eating fish sticks, not salmon. I don’t like salmon, mackerel, trout, or herring…fish with high levels of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are the highly unsaturated fats that are tied to many healthy body functions, including:

·         Heart and blood vessel health

·         Anti-inflammation

·         Brain health (our brains are 60% fat)

·         Eye health (especially dry eye syndrome)

Omega-3 fats come with some long chemical names, so I’ll skip the biochemistry, and shorten them to the two most important omega 3s: EPA and DHA. There is another omega 3, ALA, found in flax and flaxseed oil, walnuts, and canola oil. While these are healthy fats, the conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA is rather small, so we can’t rely on ALA to provide us with EPA and DHA.

Back to my blood test; my Omega 3 Index was in the low-to moderate range. The Omega 3 Index was named by American and German scientists in early 2000s. Research showed that increasing the index from 3.5 to 6.8% was correlated with a 90% reduction in sudden death. Correlation doesn’t mean causation, but the strength of the association is impressive and makes it worth using the test as a marker to increase awareness of omega-3s. My plan is to increase my intake of omega-3 rich foods and take dietary supplements of fish oil and then repeat the test in the spring to see if I increased my Omega 3 Index.

I’ve already mentioned some fish high in omega-3s, but since I don’t like them, I will eat more crab, shrimp, and scallops. They have lower levels of omega-3s than fatty fish, but can contribute to total intake. Eating fortified foods is also a way to boost intake; eggs, some milk, orange juice, energy bars, and even some peanut butter have added omega-3s. These foods indicate that they have added DHA and EPA on the package, but check the label to find out how much is in each food. Lastly, I started on supplements. I should stay started again…. I used to take fish oil supplements, but stopped a few years ago.

When taking supplements, consider using fish oil or krill oil, and look for supplements that disclose the total amount of DHA and EPA, not just total amount of fish oil. For example, a supplement might say 1200 milligrams of fish oil but not reveal how much of that is EPA and DHA. The supplement I take has 360 milligrams of EPA and 240 milligrams of DHA in 2 pills (serving size is also an important thing to consider.) I don’t have a problem swallowing pills, but for those who do, krill oil might be a better choice because the pills are usually smaller. But, I do take a supplement that is labelled “burpless,” to reduce the fishy after taste of some supplements. Stay tuned; I’ll check in after I retest!

Here are some good resources for more information, including the American Heart Association recommendations on eating fish: