Parmesan Almond Crusted Chicken Breast Stuffed with Cauliflower and Dried Cranberries

November 19, 2015 at 10:23 am | Posted in recipes | Leave a comment
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A nutritious take on a classic stuffed chicken recipe that is as delicious as it is healthy.


Cauliflower Cranberry Stuffing
2¼ cups frozen cauliflower
¾ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
¼ tsp black pepper
pinch salt

¾ cup almonds, sliced or chopped
6 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
6 4 oz chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1½ cups fresh baby spinach, washed
pinch salt and black pepper
pan spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the cauliflower cranberry stuffing: Fill a medium saucepan with water and add cauliflower.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain water from saucepan and mash cauliflower with the backside of a fork or potato masher until slightly chunky. Mix in cranberries, salt, and pepper then set aside.

Cook the Chicken: In a small bowl combine sliced almonds and Parmesan cheese, set aside. Butterfly raw chicken by cutting ¾ of the way through the side of the chicken breast (so that it opens like a book) and season with salt and pepper.

Place spinach on chicken breast, covering all visible parts of the meat.  Spoon ½ cup of cauliflower cranberry stuffing on one side of chicken. Fold chicken breast over and push any extra stuffing back into the breast.

Spray baking sheet with pan spray.  Place chicken on sheet. Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of the almond Parmesan mixture on top of chicken.

Cook in a 350 degree oven for 22-25 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees.
Chicken juices should be clear.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving:

Calories: 335 • Protein: 11g • Sodium: 388mg • Carbohydrate: 35g •
Fiber: 6.5g • Fat: 10g • Sat Fat: 4.5g

Recipe adapted by Samantha Foor, Dietetic Intern


World Diabetes Day

November 12, 2015 at 8:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today we are celebrating World Diabetes Day, a day set aside each year to raise awareness of the impact of diabetes. All are invited to stop by our table near Coffee Central to learn more about diabetes from our Certified Diabetes Educators. Plus, games and prizes!

Updated WDDCircle

Is Organic Produce Healthier?

October 29, 2015 at 11:10 am | Posted in Health, Nutrition | 1 Comment
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By Lauren Beth Cohen
Dietetic Intern

A lot of confidence is put in the word organic. When playing the word-association game, you might hear things like: health, nutrition, clean, natural, expensive, and safe. But is that always the case? Before we fully answer this question (spoiler alert: the short answer no), we should breakdown what “organic” actually means.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certifies and labels certain foods as organic if they are produced “using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics.” Pesticides and antibiotics are used to extend shelf life in the grocery store, reduce plant spoilage and mutation, and prevent illness in livestock. They are GRAS, or Generally Recognized As Safe to consume by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

So, should you eat it? Well, the choice is yours.

Not a lot is known about the how these pesticides and antibiotics affect the human body. What we do know is that organic can be a great option, but is not always essential.

In an attempt to help you save some cash and become a more savvy shopper, let’s introduce you to the “dirty dozen.” These foods, tested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), show a higher amount of pesticides than average and, if given the option, should be purchased organic. They include: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach/kale/collard greens, sweet bell & hot peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.

Next time you head to the grocery store, go in armed with some of these helpful tips:

  • Buy organic for the “Dirty Dozen” and conventional for the “Clean Fifteen,” which includes; avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
  • Prioritize buying local over organic. Often times, local farmers are producing products in an organic fashion but can’t afford the accreditation. Support your local farms!
  • Check the country of origin. The United States only imports certified organic foods from Canada, EU, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Korea, and Switzerland. Any other country with “organic” on the label may be a trick to get you to spend more!
  • Milk and seafood do not need to be purchased organic.
  • Remember: A cookie is a cookie. Even if it’s 100% natural and organic – it doesn’t make it a magically healthy cookie.
(Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)

Beans, beans, the magical fruit…

October 15, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Posted in Nutrition, recipes | Leave a comment
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By Kelsey Baumgarten
Dietetic Intern

What comes to mind when you hear the word “beans?” Maybe you think of chili, baked beans, minestrone soup, gallo pinto, burritos. Whatever you think about beans, you may not know how they are related to your health and blood sugar control.

While the old rhyme calls beans a magical “fruit,” they are, in fact, a vegetable! They’re part of a larger group of vegetables called legumes, which includes foods like black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and split peas. When counting carbohydrates, legumes should be counted as a starchy vegetable. However, if you can think of the rhyme, it may help you remember that a ⅓-cup serving of beans has a similar number of carbohydrates as a piece of fruit.

The more you eat, the more you toot…

Many people avoid beans because of their reputation for causing gastrointestinal discomfort. The gas related to eating beans is caused by the fiber and starches your body can’t break down. These are digested by the bacteria in your intestines.

The more you toot, the better you feel…

The fiber is part of what makes beans so good for you! Fiber can help lower your cholesterol and prevent constipation. Over time, your body will get used to it and you will notice less discomfort.

So let’s have beans at every meal!

You don’t need to have beans at every meal like the song suggests, but beans do make a great choice for balanced meals and snacks. Try swapping beans for some of your usual servings of pasta, potato, squash, and bread. You can even replace half of your starch with a half serving of legumes:

  • Eat a smaller portion of pasta, and add beans into the pasta sauce.
  • Mash black beans into a half serving of mashed potatoes.
  • Sprinkle beans on top of a thin-crust pizza
  • Add roasted chickpeas to your salad instead of croutons (just toss dry chickpeas in olive oil and salt, and broil until crispy— about 10 minutes)

Snacking on beans (15-30 g carbs)

  • 2 tablespoons of hummus or edamame dip + 6 whole grain crackers
  • ½ cup of lentil soup
  • ½ cup kidney beans, sprinkled with olive oil and Italian seasoning
  • ⅓ cup soy nuts + 1 piece fresh fruit

Don’t forget:
While legumes are a great source of plant protein, their carbohydrates will still raise your blood sugar. Legumes generally supply 15-20 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Be sure to check the nutrition label of whichever kind you are eating.

Beans can be a great addition to your diet. For increased fiber intake and heart-health benefits, aim to eat 3 or more servings every week. With so many nutrients per serving, they really are a “magical fruit”!

Did you know? You can use beans to make healthier baked goods and desserts!

Cannellini Carrot Muffins

  • BeanCarrotMuffin1 can* cannellini or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrots
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a food processor, puree beans, eggs, oil, molasses, salt, and cinnamon until very smooth. Add carrots and nuts and blend on low speed until nuts and carrots are in small chunks. In a separate bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar, and baking powder. Add the bean mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the muffin tins and bake for 35-40 minutes.

*You can also use beans cooked from dry. 1 can = 1½ cups cooked beans.

Per muffin: 190 calories • 40g carb • 5g protein • 4g fiber • 7g fat

Black bean Chocolate Hummus
(who knew hummus could taste like dessert?)

  • 1 can* black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp decaf coffee (or water)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serves 8.

For a snack with 30g carbs, spread hummus over 2 graham cracker squares (1 full sheet), or use as dip for 1 serving of apple slices or strawberries.

Per serving (about 2 tbsp): 150 calories • 20g carb • 5g protein • 5g fiber • 7g fat

*You can also use beans cooked from dry. 1 can = 1½ cups cooked beans.

 (Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)

Apple Barley Salad

October 8, 2015 at 10:20 am | Posted in recipes | Leave a comment
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Pearled barley cooks quicker than hulled barley (hulled barley still has the bran of the grain attached and takes about an hour to cook). Though pearled barley is technically not a “whole grain,” it is still a good source of fiber. Avoid buying white pearled barley, it is more processed; instead, look for the variety that is “lightly pearled.”  Lightly pearled barley will be tan in color and has more fiber.

½ cup lightly pearled barley, uncooked
1 tsp salt, divided
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp black pepper
2 stalks celery, diced
1 apple, skin intact, diced into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
2 bunches arugula (about 6 cups)

Combine barley in a saucepan with 1½ cups water and ½ tsp salt and bring to boil (or see directions for cooking barley on package). Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until water is absorbed and barley is tender. Use a strainer to drain any excess water. Allow barley to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, remaining ½ tsp salt and black pepper. Toss with celery, apple, mint and cooled barley. Divide arugula between bowls and top arugula with barley salad.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 195 • Protein: 5g • Sodium: 650mg • Carbohydrate: 30g
Fiber: 6g • Fat: 6g • Sat Fat: 1g

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

MGH Central Flu Clinic

September 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Health | Leave a comment
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Since today is the first day of fall, it’s a good time to start thinking about getting your flu shot. The MGH Central Flu Clinic opens next week and continues until November 20. A flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the flu!

MGH Central Flu Clinic
Tues, Sept 29th – Fri, Nov 20th
Clinic will be open 8am-6pm Monday – Friday
(9am – 3pm on Columbus Day, October 12)

Note, there will be two locations this year: Wang Lobby by Tea Leaves and the Yawkey 2 Mezzanine.  Visit for more information.

My Story: Journey Through Weight Loss Surgery

September 3, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Posted in My Story | Leave a comment
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By Isabel

When I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, it was a total shock. Even though diabetes runs in both sides of my family (both my grandmothers had it as well as some aunts and uncles), I never felt I would get diabetes. My primary care provider reassured me that WE would get through this and started me on metformin and I learned how to use a glucometer. At the time I thought I’ll just learn what I need to do. When I got home and started looking through my materials, it hit me hard. I broke down and started to cry. I felt that diabetes was a death sentence. I was also angry because I had been going to Weight Watchers and started losing weight! The diagnosis was devastating, but I said: I. Will. Beat. This.

I continued with Weight Watchers, but started thinking what else could I do to help me lose more weight and control my diabetes. So I thought about gastric bypass surgery. Would it be a good option for me, am I thinking this is an easy way out? So I started doing research about diabetes and weight loss surgery. I attended support groups and talked to people about how they felt after having the surgery. I realized that I was going to be 40 in a few years. I said I wanted to be healthy plus, I wanted to have children and would need to be healthy for them. Because of these reasons I decided to move forward with the surgery. My primary care physician was very supportive of my decision and gave me recommendations for weight loss surgeons at a local hospital.

My surgery went well with no complications, however I started to have doubts during my first month of recovery. You can’t eat anything except liquids, and the protein shakes I was supposed to drink made me feel sick. That, and dealing with the pain, made me feel depressed and defeated. To get through it, I kept reminding myself why I had the surgery to begin with. At my first month follow up I had lost 40 pounds and my A1C had dropped way down. I was able to stop taking metformin and my blood pressure medication. Beyond that, I started feeling better and noticed my clothes feeling looser.

As I continued to lose weight eventually I did plateau, but I was ready for it. I kept up with my healthy eating habits, making adjustments until I reached a weight range I felt comfortable with. I had my surgery in 2012, and I’ve lost a total of 95 pounds. Much of my success comes from the lessons learned from Weight Watchers and the “no guilt” attitude of my support group. I have gained a few pounds above my goal range, but it’s okay – I know I can lose the weight again and what I need to do to get there.

Diabetes was like a hit below the belt, but never once did I say “Why me?!” I know it will always be there, and it may come back down the line. For me, gastric bypass was a tool to use to control my weight and beat diabetes. Since my surgery, I have more confidence, am more accepting of my body, and have more energy. I’ve become an educator and advocate for taking charge of your own health. Gastric bypass was a good fit for me, but it’s not for everyone. If you are considering surgery, I encourage you to educate yourself about the different types of surgery available and talk to people who have done it. Do some research to prepare yourself for what happens afterward, and make sure you surround yourself with a strong support network. Do not let anyone make you feel ashamed for having weight loss surgery. Your health is yours, and in the end it’s about you, not them.

Fresh, Local Produce is in Season

August 27, 2015 at 10:20 am | Posted in Nutrition | Leave a comment
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By Michelle Leonetti
Dietetic Intern

Summer is the time for fresh vegetables and herbs! The northeast has a large variety of produce that comes alive in the summer months. Eating local vegetables in season ensures a fresher, more nutritious product and lowers the environmental impact. Check out local farmers markets, roadside farm stands or even join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group!

Learn more about 6 of our favorite summer veggies!


Basil is a green leafy herb with a sweet and spicy flavor. This versatile herb can be used to add a kick to anything from tomato sauce to sandwiches and can be dried as a seasoning for meat and vegetables. It is especially high in vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting.

        Serving Suggestion – Pesto

basil montage

  • Basil is most commonly used as the main ingredient in pesto sauce. Combine basil with olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts for a savory sauce. Basil in short supply? Use half spinach to add bulk, while maintaining the color and flavor. Many kinds of nuts like walnuts and almonds can be substituted for the pine nuts. Add roasted red peppers for a twist on a classic pesto!

        Serving Suggestion – Caprese Salad

  • For light refreshing summer snack combine tomato, basil and mozzarella and finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar!

Summer Squash/Zucchini

Summer squash comes in two varieties: yellow and green. The green variety is also known as zucchini. Summer squash is lighter than winter squashes like pumpkins and butternut squash.

Serving Suggestion – Zucchini “Noodles”

  • Use a vegetable peeler, spiral slicer or a mandolin to cut the squash into thin strips for a lighter, more nutritious spin on pasta. Add any sauce or seasoning that you would add to regular pasta. We recommend the pesto sauce above!


Beets are a great way to bring color into your diet. These bright red root vegetables can be eaten in a variety of ways including shredded, roasted, boiled, juiced or even pickled! You can also add the greens to a vegetable stir-fry to reduce waste and get the most out of your produce. Beets are especially high in folate and magnesium as well as a variety of other vitamins and minerals.

Serving Suggestion – Roasted Beets

  • Roast in the oven with olive oil and spices; slice and top with goat cheese and walnuts for a warm melty treat.


Eggplant is a versatile vegetable that can be used in many types of cooking because the spongy texture quickly absorbs the flavor of what it’s prepared with. Though mostly known for its deep purple color, some varieties come in indigo or even white. “Graffiti” eggplant is somewhere in-between!

 Serving Suggestion – Grilled Eggplant

  • Slice thinly, marinate with a bit of olive oil and your favorite seasonings and throw on the grill along with your burgers and hot dogs for a tasty and healthy addition to your BBQ!

Sweet Corn

Corn is a staple in many households and is a summer classic. Corn is native to North America and has evolved significantly in the past few centuries to become the crop we know today. Although sweet corn is the most common corn sold in supermarkets, it comes in several different varieties. Each has special properties and uses. Some are colorful or have tougher textures. Some are as animal feed while others are better for popping!

Serving Suggestion – Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

  • After grilling corn brush a mixture of butter, lime juice and adobo sauce onto the cob. Adding lime juice to corn is an ancient practice known as “nixtamalization.” The chemistry of the lime juice releases essential B vitamins increasing flavor, aroma and the nutritional content of the corn.


Cauliflower is generally known as the less popular relative of broccoli, but it’s been gaining attention in recent years as more people discover the versatility of the vegetable. Cauliflower can be eaten raw or roasted and can even be blended and used as a dairy substitute in creamy sauces.

Serving Suggestion – Baked Cauliflower

  • For a fun and healthy appetizer, core the cauliflower leaving the head intact and coat with olive oil and the spices of your choice bake until tender.
Content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services

Profile: Mushrooms

August 6, 2015 at 11:15 am | Posted in Nutrition, Secret Ingredient | Leave a comment
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By Reneé Ortolani
Dietetic Intern

When talking about fruit and veggie consumption, it’s usually recommended to look for the brightest colors of the bunch (i.e. bright red tomatoes, rich purple eggplant or green leafy spinach). The vibrant colors means the fruit or veggie is packed with vitamins and nutrients. While you’re painting your plate with color, leave room for the less vibrant hues too! While they don’t make for as striking a presentation as a carton of blueberries, paler veggies like cauliflower; onions and mushrooms are good sources of nutrients and antioxidants.

Okay, so technically mushrooms aren’t really vegetables, but rather a type of edible fungi. They have more in common with yeast than most of what you’ll find in the supermarket’s produce section. Some of the most common varieties of mushrooms include: portabello, shiitake, cremini, and chanterelle but there are thousands of different types of mushrooms. Mushrooms range in color from white to tan to golden and generally have a mild to strong (depending on variety) earthy flavor. Not all mushrooms are edible, though. Because some poisonous mushrooms look very similar to edible varieties, it’s best to leave mushroom picking to the expert mushroom hunters.

So why are mushrooms so great? Let’s break down their nutrients. Mushrooms are naturally low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and calories making them a healthy option to add to any meal. Mushrooms are also packed with the B vitamins riboflavin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and niacin. They’re also the only non-fortified dietary source of vitamin D, a huge benefit to vegans. The list goes on with several minerals that mushrooms can add to the diet such as selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus.

If you thought that was all that mushrooms offered, keep reading. Not only does this food from the fungi kingdom rate high on the nutrient scale, they provide a slew of possible health benefits as well. Beta-glucans (a type of fiber found in mushrooms) has recently been studied to evaluate its effect on improving insulin resistance and blood cholesterol levels, while lowering the risk of obesity. Choline, another nutrient, aids in sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory, while also helping support fat absorption and reduce chronic inflammation. The mineral selenium delivers cancer-fighting qualities by assisting in detoxifying cancer-causing compounds in the body. It also prevents inflammation, lowers tumor growth rates, and is important for liver enzyme function. The list goes on with supporting cardiovascular health, improving immunity, aiding in weight management, and increasing satiety too.

With all of these nutrient benefits, where can you go wrong with incorporating mushrooms into your lifestyle? There are so many ways that mushrooms can be added to a dish. Whether replacing your burger with a grilled and marinated portabello, adding creminis to an egg frittata, or mixing shiitake mushrooms into your favorite pasta dish, this powerhouse of a “veggie” is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

So, what are you waiting for? Add mushrooms to your grocery list and try them in this delicious portobello mushroom burger recipe from the MGH Be Fit Program, the perfect addition to your palette this summer season!

Be Fit Basics: Stacked Summer Veggie Portobello Burger


6 portobello mushrooms (any dirt brushed off with a paper towel), stems removed
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 rosemary sprigs (or 1 tsp dried rosemary)
3 peaches cut in half with peach pits removed
3 bell peppers cut in half with seeds and stems removed
3 small onions, skins removed and sliced in half (preserving onion rings)
1 lemon
Salt and pepper (salt estimated at ½ tsp)


Place mushroom caps in a large bowl; add balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Tear leaves off rosemary sprigs and add them to the bowl. Add salt and pepper and toss all ingredients until mushrooms are fully coated (Adding additional balsamic as needed). In another large bowl place peaches, peppers and onions. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice into bowl. Add remaining 2 tbsp olive oil with along with salt and pepper; toss to combine.

Light grill; allow it to come to medium-high heat or when you can hold your hand about 5 inches above the grill (being careful not to burn your hand) for 3-5 seconds. The process for lighting your grill will vary depending on whether you have a charcoal or gas grill. [Note: If you don’t have a grill you can roast the mushrooms, peaches, peppers and onions on a large baking sheet in a 425 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes. (The cooking time may vary slightly depending on your oven.)]

Place mushrooms, peaches, peppers and onions on grill. Grill until slightly charred and cooked through, about 5-15 minutes. Turn vegetables once half way through cooking.

Assembly: On bottom of a wheat bun place peppers, onions, peaches and mushroom cap. Place other bun half on top

Yield: 6 serving

Nutrition Information per Serving (not including bun):

Calories: 180 • Protein: 4g • Sodium: 210mg • Carbohydrate 22g • Fiber: 5g •
Fat: 10g • Sat Fat: 1.5g

(Content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)

Depression as a Barrier to Diabetes Self-Care

July 30, 2015 at 10:35 am | Posted in Health | Leave a comment
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By Christina Psaros, Ph.D
Department of Psychiatry

Depression is a medical illness characterized by pervasive feelings of sadness and/or the inability to experience pleasure or joy. Other symptoms of depression include feeling tired or without energy, reduced appetite, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and hopelessness. People with diabetes have relatively high rates of depression, which can interfere with their ability to manage their diabetes.

Effectively managing diabetes requires a number of complex steps that may include regular meetings with a health care provider, monitoring of blood sugar, taking medications, and adhering to diet and physical activity guidelines. Depression may interfere with some or all of these behaviors. For example, difficulty concentrating may make it difficult to remember to take medications. Feeling tired or without energy can make it difficult to engage in physical activity or prepare healthful meals, while changes in appetite may it difficult to eat healthful foods. Feelings of hopelessness can make people feel like giving up rather than continue with self-care efforts.

Help is available! Research shows that psychotherapy can help alleviate symptoms of depression and help individuals with diabetes better adhere to their self-care regimen. Antidepressant medications can help. Talk to your Certified Diabetes Educator or primary healthcare provider if you are struggling with your diabetes self-care or if you think you may be depressed. They may refer you to the Massachusetts General Hospital Behavioral Medicine Program, which consists of a team of psychologists specializing in helping individuals with chronic illnesses like diabetes. If you are interested in making an appointment yourself, call the Psychiatry Access Line at 617-724-5600 or visit our website.

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