29 Mar

10 TO 15 TIMES

By Dustin Stegen … At one point in our lives, we all had to be introduced to every food we now eat. We weren’t born to love certain foods. No one came out of the womb salivating at the thought of peanut butter toast. We had to acquire the desire for it. This is especially true for foods whose characteristics may not be as desirable as a chocolate treat or salty chips. Those foods do not take much time or effort to enjoy.

This is especially true for our children. Introducing new foods can be challenging. I am not talking about chocolate ice cream with crushed Oreos all over it, once our children have this type of food they seem to want it all of the time. Who can blame them? I am talking about foods like broccoli, asparagus, turnips, and tofu. These foods may sound delicious to some but may not be what our children desire but it is the food we help they learn to love. Our job as parents is to keep trying to give new, healthy foods for our kids. Children are hard to predict when it comes to their eating habits. Some days they want to eat anything and everything put in front of them. Then other days, even their favorite meal disgusts them. It can take 10 to 15 attempts for children to eat and then enjoy new foods. So don’t be discouraged and don’t give up if it take longer than that. If you have prepared the food well with delicious ingredients, your children will learn to love it. Try your best to never force, pressure and coerce your children into eating their foods. Make eating a time of fun and fellowship. (The way we treat our children when it comes to food is a giant topic and is not fully covered in this blog. Look out for future blogs covering parenting and eating tips). Please remember, children do have a more sensitive palate than older adults. They can detect bitter flavors quickly. Give them some grace when trying kale for the first time.

Our children will also be more likely to try food if we, the parent or adult, are eating and obviously enjoying the food. If we are hesitant to eat the meal with a grimus you can almost guarantee our children won’t be trying it. Speaking of adults, we too sometimes need 10 to 15 times to try a new food. How many of us have a friend who is unwilling to try certain foods because they know they disliked them as a child? As we age, we must eat our fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to aid in our own health promotion. These types of foods are essential and should be incorporated into our diets. The most important step in improving our diet through nutrition is actually eating the food. If you disliked broccoli as a kid, that may be because it was not prepared well. I am sorry to say it but who actually liked steamed broccoli? I can’t be the only one who dislikes it. But I love broccoli, lightly baked in olive oil. Crispy and sweet. Truly amazing.

I think it is important to make a distinction between healthy foods and not-so-healthy foods. I am not saying you should expose yourself to foods that require an acquired taste and are detrimental to your health. For example, I do not like coffee. I bet if I drank it more and more, I would learn to love it. But coffee is not necessarily a healthy beverage. I want more people to eat more fruits and vegetables. Keep trying those, not all the other stuff.

The point is, at any age we need to eat more plants. We don’t have to eat every single one, but a humble variety fuels our bodies with its optimal fuel. Children and adults can benefit from trying different plant foods 10 to 15 times. The food we eat literally makes up our cells and fuels them. Expose yourself to new, healthy, and delicious plant foods by just trying them.

— Dustin Stegen is a Registered Dietitian and lover of all things outdoors, cooking, and teaching others about living a healthy lifestyle and eating. He is the founder of Ten Times Better, LLC a nutrition consulting business that focuses on connecting faith and food. Photo by iStock.

This article was originally published on Outlook Magazine website

29 Sep


By Dustin Stegen — You want a snack but don’t want to go for those potato chips, ice cream, or granola bar. You see a large container of mixed nuts in your pantry. You have heard nuts have a lot of fat and calories in them. You’ve also heard you should avoid them because they will make you fat. Instead, you grab those potato chips as your afternoon snack.

There are numerous reasons why you should have gone for the mixed nuts over the potato chips. Sadly, nuts get a bad reputation. So, let’s set the record straight on nuts.

The term “nuts” encompasses a wide variety of foods. Dried seeds like hazelnuts, chestnuts, and acorns are considered nuts. More commonly, almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and Brazil nuts are what come to mind when considering nuts. Cashews are the product of a fruit called cashew apples. Peanuts are considered a legume due to the type of plant they come from. For this blog, we will be referring to the typical nuts you would find in a mixed nuts container, such as peanuts, cashews, pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts, and pistachios.

It is true nuts contain fat, calories, protein, and fiber, which doesn’t make them bad for you. They also contain essential unsaturated and monounsaturated fat like omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Nuts are a good source of vitamin E, vitamin B2, folate, and essential minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, copper, selenium, and magnesium. Obviously, nuts can be eaten separately and you are welcome to enjoy the benefits of that single type of nuts, but to get a wide variety of nutrients, a handful of mixed nuts will be beneficial.

Do your best to find raw and unsalted mixed nuts to avoid added calories and unnecessary sodium in your diet. If you do buy salted nuts, place the nuts in a colander and shake them to let the extra salt drop off the nuts to lower the amount of sodium in your mixed nuts.


Nuts are a versatile food also. When peanuts are made into peanut butter, it becomes a delicious spread perfect for adding nutrients and flavor to almost any dish. Almond butter and cashew butter are delicious as well.

Peanut butter has been shown to lower the risk of ischemic heart disease, overall cardiovascular disease, stroke in women, and all-cause mortality in a 2014 study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The famous Adventist Health Study validated the relationship between eating nuts and whole wheat bread and the reduction of coronary heart disease.

The research also found that eating nuts one to four times a week lowered the risk of nonfatal heart attacks by 74 percent and lowered the risk of fatal coronary heart disease by 73 percent. Those are incredible percentages from just eating these delicious God-given foods. Please go read more about the Adventist Health Study if you want more information on how eating plant-based meals can improve your health.

I have no issue with people eating potato chips when they want to. Even your friendly dietitian eats potato chips when it’s the right time. But if you are looking for a healthy, protein and nutrient-packed food that will keep you full and that may improve your cardiovascular health, next time, reach for those raw and unsalted mixed nuts or nut butters.

— Dustin Stegen is a Registered Dietitian and lover of all things outdoors, cooking, and teaching others about living a healthy lifestyle and eating. He is the founder of Ten Times Better, LLC a nutrition consulting business that focuses on connecting faith and food. Photo by pixabay.

This article was originally published on Outlook Magazine website.