Healthy toasted walnut & cranberry salad with feta and honey-poppy seed dressing

the downfalls of calorie counting


Wow. Just wow.  Where the heck has November gone?  Maybe it is the lingering mild days, maybe it is the busyness of life but something is making it hard to believe that December (yes, I said it..December!) is just around the corner.  With the shorter days and cooling temperatures local produce starts to shift to the hardier types, this is the season to get back to your roots if you will (is that too corny??).  There is a new movement, a new (err, old) way of getting us to think about the food we nourish ourselves with….we should be striving to eat as our ancestors did: with whole, clean, local foods.  As the frost kissed leaves fall and the ground hardens we in turn will be turning to those hearty root vegetables to stay local in the produce isles.  No groaning or panicking needed!  There are sooo many yummy and satisfying creations using these vitamin and nutrient packed gems to see you through the cold months ahead with nourished ease.

Healthy toasted walnut & cranberry salad with feta and honey-poppy seed dressing
These colder, darker days can have us craving comfort foods, have us wanting to snuggle up on the couch with a big-ol-bowl of something.  What is comfort food to you? Is it your grandma’s spaghetti? your mom’s chili? or is your vice of the pre-packaged type?Our fall and winter nourishment choices can weigh on us as we fight the urge to hibernate until spring when the sun shines longer and the temperatures are more conducive to outdoor activities and exercise.  The call of the couch and the upcoming holiday season may be raising  your awareness of the calories you are consuming, or perhaps you are a consummate calorie counter.  There is new advice out there suggesting that we should actually stop counting those calories and instead out our focus on the nutritional value of our food.

Healthy toasted walnut & cranberry salad with feta and honey-poppy seed dressingHealthy toasted walnut & cranberry salad with feta and honey-poppy seed dressing

Stop counting calories?!? Is that music to your ears?? Here is why I like what these doctors and researchers are suggesting:  They suggest that focusing our daily eating habits on food quality rather than quantity (think “I am going to eat a big bowl of homemade soup packed with veggies and lean protein” rather than “I am going to have fast food for dinner so I will skip lunch”) it will help rapidly reduce obesity, related diseases and cardiovascular risk, which calorie counting doesn’t necessarily do.

I like this approach because if we fill ourselves with nutrient rich, fresh foods we will be less inclined to resort to unhealthy, processed and high sugar foods.  They draw on empirical and trial evidence to show that simply increasing fatty acids and omega intakes (i.e. walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, salmon, canola oil) corresponded with decreased cardiovascular events.

Healthy toasted walnut & cranberry salad with feta and honey-poppy seed dressingHealthy toasted walnut & cranberry salad with feta and honey-poppy seed dressing

Another downfall of calorie restrictive diets, which is a common element of many fad diets is that it simply isn’t sustainable.  These researchers maintain that the rapid weight loss (for some) and regain that can come from fad dieting is actually harmful to your health.  Instead we should be focused on highly nutritious foods to both satiate us and lead us to life long healthy eating patterns.  They show that having a handful of nuts (30g walnuts, 15g almonds, 15g hazelnuts) or 4 tsp  of extra virgin olive oil per day significantly reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke.  Hopefully all of this is both encouraging and inspiring to you as the weekend lies ahead and thoughts of homemade soup and nutrient packed dinners dance in your head,  If you need a little more motivation their research showed that within months of making healthy dietary changes substantial reductions in mortality can occur! Let’s change our focus from diets where it is all about what we can’t have to a healthy eating lifestyle where it is all about what we can have!

Nourish yourself purely

Toasted Walnut, Pear & Cranberry Salad
Serves 2
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  1. 3 cups torn romaine lettuce
  2. 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  3. 1/2 pear, sliced
  4. 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  5. 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  6. 1/4 cup feta cheese
  1. 1/4 cup honey
  2. 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  3. 1/2 tsp onion powder
  4. 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  5. 1 tsp poppy seeds
  6. salt and pepper to taste
  7. 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. In large bowl combine salad ingredients
  2. In small bowl or jar combine dressing ingredients and whisk to emulsify.
  3. Divide salad between two bowls and drizzle with dressing to taste.
  4. Enjoy!!
study source:

Malhotra, Dr. Aseem, J.J. DiNicolantonio, S. Capewell. Open Heart 2015 (2) It is time to stop counting calories and time instead to promote dietary changes that substantially and rapidly reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.