Health and Wellness


It seems that everyone has a dietary restriction these days whether it’s an allergy, intolerance, or a special diet.  Unique dietary needs such as these become particularly important during the holidays.  For example, what can a vegetarian eat on Thanksgiving? What about lactose intolerance? At Park Avenue Nutrition we feel that everyone should be able to enjoy a holiday meal! Here are a few of our suggestions:

For A Vegetarian:

Try Tofurky instead of turkey or prepare a main dish that highlights legumes.  Stews and Sheppard’s pies made with vegetables, mushrooms, and beans can be equally fulfilling to the traditional turkey meal.

Visit for more vegetarian thanksgiving ideas.  Vegkitchen also has a variety of amazing raw food recipes.  Check them out!

For Lactose Intolerance:

Love the taste and texture of cheesecake but hate how it makes you feel?  Try tofu cheesecake and avoid bloating and gas on the car ride home.  Cheesecake made with tofu may sound strange but trust us; you’ll never know the difference! Another idea: instead of using butter and cream in mashed potatoes, try using olive oil.

Try This Decadent Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake (pictured above):

 For Gluten-Free:

Holiday meals can be especially risky for individuals with gluten allergies.  Be sure to know the ingredients of everything you eat.  You’d be surprised where gluten can hide its nasty self! Instead of skipping the stuffing, try making it with gluten free bread or even rice.  And for dessert, try making a baked fruit cobbler instead of a traditional gluten-filled pie.

Visit for more gluten-free thanksgiving alternatives.

Don’t Forget:

It’s important to remember basic food safety information while transporting food.  We encourage you to purchase freshly and properly refrigerated foods. It’s smart to store food at proper temperatures while you travel; consider using a cooler. Additionally, make sure all meat is cooked to a safe temperature before serving.

Visit this link to the USDA site for proper cooking temperatures and other safety tips:

Here at Park Avenue Nutrition we think that Thanksgiving should be a time of celebration and relaxation.  Let us do the worrying!  If you have any questions, please give us a call or make an appointment.

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One of the Dieticians, Sehba K., at our Park Avenue office is Pakistani and has provided some interesting insight about the Pakistani diet.

-What are the benefits of the Paki diet?

The Pakistani diet incorporates a great variety of foods, which means it is rich in nutrients and flavors.   The use of a large number of spices, such as cloves and turmeric, add to the health benefits of this diet while enhancing its flavor profile at the same time.

-What are the cons of the Paki diet?

The methods of cooking Pakistani foods can have adverse effect on one’s health.  Often,  too much oil is used to fry onions, tomatoes, and spices, which are key ingredients in Pakistani meals.  Using too much oil in heating vegetables can also damage the antioxidative effects of vitamins.  Deep fried foods, such as fish and kebabs, are staples of the Pakistani diet.   Desserts are usually full of butter and ghee, concentrated sources of saturated fat that can damage the heart.  Finally, the combination of oily, spicy foods at snacks or meals can exacerbate heartburn and gastritis.

-What about portion sizes of grains?

The Pakistani diet can be heavy in grains, with servings of rice being well over a cup and roti servings being at least 2 pieces per meal.   To better balance the meal, reduce the serving of rice to ½ cup and roti to 1 piece.   Add in 1 cup of fresh salad or cut up vegetables, 1/2cup of daal, or ½ cup of cooked, nonstarchy vegetables such as eggplant, spinach, or cauliflower.

-What is mustard oil, how is it used, what does it taste like?

Mustard oil is type oil found in Southeast Asian food store. It has a distinct, slightly bitter flavor and is high in unsaturated fatty acids.  Mustard oil is used in heating spices and making curries as it enhances the intensity and flavor of spices.  In Pakistan, mustard oil is also used in moisturizing skin and is also used as part of a hot oil treatment to condition hair.

-Where can someone find these groceries and what are some of your favorite Pakistani foods?

Pakistani groceries can be found at any Pakistani or Indian food store, specifically in Coney Island, Brooklyn, Jackson Heights, Queens, and Curry Hill, Manhattan.  My favorite Pakistani food items include fresh roti, scrambled eggs with onions and spices, goat curry with potatoes, and cooked cabbage.

Thanks Sehba!

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Healthy Halloween

Has Halloween turned into a night of mad candy consumption or permission to stockpile your favorite sugary, creamy, crunchy, chocolate treats?  This can derail your weight loss efforts and add stress to the picture.

In our practice we work with children and adults who see Halloween as a permission slip for out-of-control candy binges and buying of treats.  It also causes stress amongst family members who try to eat healthy.  Families with allergies, gluten sensitivity, diabetes and overweight concerns have more challenges.  Indeed a day for candy hunting and eating treats laden with sugars, trans-fats, and food additives poses health risk to our blood sugar levels, mood and energy levels.  You can have your treat and eat it too!

The Park Avenue Nutrition team came up with 5 tips for avoiding the unhealthy tricks of Halloween treats so you may have just a little bit of sweet and enjoy the holiday:

1.     Buy your candy the day before Halloween. We see families who aim to eat healthy be sabotaged by the plethora of candy available in the stores for weeks before and weeks after Halloween day. Limit the run in time for treating yourself.

2.     Keep cool headed Special occasions can present teaching moments but going overboard by restricting all candy from your child (or yourself) without an alternative can backfire.

3.     Have a nutritious dinner before trick or treating. This will prevent hunger and make it easier to have 50-100 calories worth of your treat of choice.

4.     Have a party as an alternative to trick or treating.  Instead of collecting a surplus of candy your children can do Halloween activities with friends.  Have an assortment of orange and black foods such tangerine salad, squash soup sprinkled with black sesame seeds, salmon with arame seaweed salad or black bean soup.  Invite the children’s parents over because adults should have fun too!

Purchase mini-sized candy bars of 50 calories or less per serving.  Read the outside label for nutrition information as the mini’s have no label. Aim to avoid processed sugars and read labels! If the first ingredient of a candy is sugar, then it means that sugar is the main ingredient.  Don’t be fooled by alternative names of sugar such as corn syrup, cane juice, galactose, glucose, maltose, fructose, dextrose and look for more natural sources such as pureed fruit, fruit juice, honey or molasses.  If sugar is listed in the first 3 ingredients, consider the choice a sugar load.  Avoid trans fats and artificial coloring and additives.  You should be familiar with the ingredients.

5.     Control Candy Binges. Keep the trouble maker out of the house (or your handbag)!  If you know you will be led by the temptation of left over candies, just give them all away.

Restrain yourself from buying large quantities of candy and having leftovers after.  We know about the temptation to eat the extra candy, so rid your house of it.

Limit the number of places your children trick or treat and thus the amount of candy they collect.  Limit the night to ten to fifteen homes/apartments.

At the end of the night go through your children’s candy bag with them.  Discuss the amount of candy they can keep and give the rest away to a food pantry (you’ll save your kid and yourself from future candy nibbling).  Mini sizes are the best candies to keep because each one has 50 to 80 calories.  Limit your child to having up to three per day.

Allergy/Gluten Free Options:  Popped corn or popping Sorghum (Min-Pops) in single serving bags are great options.  Organic dried fruits are as well.

A note on Diabetic Options:  If you choose sugar free alternatives keep in mind that they can cause digestive problems as mannitol, xylitol and sorbitol are laxatives.

We want you to have fun on Halloween without being a candy monster.  For other suggestions for conquering candy cravings, information gluten-free candy, or diabetic candy make an appointment with us at Park Avenue Nutrition.

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