Useful Information for Better Health from the Western Maryland Health System

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Healthy Snack Ideas for Back to School and Beyond

As kids head back to school, be prepared to feed their after-school hunger with healthy snacks.  Snacks are important to help children meet their nutrition needs, but if healthy choices aren’t available, then snacks may just add calories without nutrients.  Here are some tips to make snacks count for better health for kids and adults.
  1. Serve raw veggies with dips like hummus or yogurt veggie dip.
  2. Top half of a whole grain English muffin or pita or flatbread with spaghetti or pizza sauce, chopped veggies, such as mushrooms, onions and red peppers, and part-skim mozzarella cheese and melt in the toaster oven or microwave.
  3. Make homemade snack mix and fill small baggies for a quick grab and go snack. Include their favorite low-sugar cereal, such as Cheerios or whole grain Chex, dried fruit, unsalted nuts and popcorn. 
  4. Blend up refreshing fruit smoothies. See recipes below.
  5. Most kids don’t eat enough fruits and veggies, so take advantage of after-school hunger and have cut up fruit and veggies in clear dishes or baggies at eye level in the ‘frig. You will be surprised how quickly these are selected when ready to eat in grab and go containers.
Visit for more healthy nutrition ideas and recipes.  Or for eating tips for kids and teens, visit  Designed to help parents meet nutrition needs, shop smart, cook and eat healthfully, the Kids Eat Right website provides parents with practical tips, articles, videos and recipes from registered dietitians. 

Another great website for families is  Registered dietitians Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex, the meal makeover moms, share lots of great nutrition tips, recipes and videos.


Fruit Smoothie:

  • 2 cups frozen fruit (such as banana and strawberries)
  •  1 cup skim milk or soy milk
  • 1 cup of Greek vanilla yogurt
Blend and serve.  Makes 2 servings (about 200 calories each)

Green Machine Smoothie  (source:

  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves +
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh honeydew +
  •  1/3 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
Blend and serve. (About 160 calories)

For more information, contact Theresa Stahl, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian at 240-964-8416 or

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Healthy Picnic Tips

This picnic season, as you enjoy eating in the great outdoors, remember these simple tips.
  1. Store food and drinks in clean insulated coolers packed with ice or freezer packs and keep in the shade. 
  2. Don’t let foods sit out for more than two hours. In temperatures above 90 degrees F., perishable food shouldn’t sit out for more than one hour. 
  3. Store raw meat separately from salad, fruits, beverages and other foods. Don’t reuse platters or utensils that held raw meat, poultry or seafood without thoroughly washing first. 
  4. Wash all fresh produce before packing.
  5. Use wet wipes and hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available, and wash hands before and after handling food.

Some easy-to-pack items include:
  1. Hummus with veggies and whole grain crackers
  2. Grapes, cheese and whole grain bread or crackers
  3. Sandwiches and wraps with lean protein such as chicken, turkey and tuna with veggies, such as cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and onion
  4. Fruit 
  5. Individually-wrapped string cheese
  6. Veggies and salads, such as cucumber and three-bean, as well as quinoa, whole grain pasta, and red potato
  7. Salads dressed with flavorful vinegars, such as balsamic, and olive oil instead of mayonnaise. 
  8. Trail mixes with your favorite cereals, dried fruit and nuts
  9. Water – pack plenty for staying hydrated.
  10. Create a spritzer bar with seltzer water and a variety of cut fruit and vegetables such as lemons, limes, oranges and cucumbers. 
  11. Encourage kids to play with their food by packing easy to assemble salad ingredients such as this “lady bug” Caprese salad made with fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, cherry tomatoes, black olives and balsamic vinegar glaze. I made these with my friend's 6-year-old son. 
Or for adults, another way to serve this simple yet elegant salad is to skewer small mozzarella balls with basil and cherry tomatoes and drizzle with balsamic glaze. 
For more nutrition information or to find out about WMHS nutrition programs, contact Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian at or 240-964-8416.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Farmers Market at WMHS

The grand opening of the Allegany County Farmers Market at WMHS is on Wednesday July 8th and there will be live entertainment from 2:30-4 pm featuring Pan Jammin’ Combo steel drum band and a cooking demo by the WMHS dietitians using the fresh produce that day. 

The farmers market will be here between 2 pm – 5 pm every Wednesday through October.  Local farmers will set up in the parking garage across from the Medical Arts Center entrance.  Employees will be provided with zip lock bags so produce can be brought into WMHS buildings.

Eat local and save:

1. Money – fresh, seasonal foods are less expensive
2. Energy – less gas used to transport food

Eat local and support:

1. Local growers – buying local boosts local revenue
2. YOUR HEALTH - fresh, seasonal foods are more flavorful, encouraging increased intake of fresh  fruits and veggies, which increases your intake of healthy vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that fight disease and promote health

Other local farmers’ markets include:

Tuesdays: 9:30 am – 2 pm  until October 20 at the Country Club Mall (center court), LaVale
Thursdays: 9:30 am – 2 pm until October 15 at the Downtown Cumberland Pedestrian Mall on Baltimore Street, Cumberland
Fridays: 9:30 am – 1 pm until October 16 at Frostburg City Place 20 South Water Street, Frostburg
Saturdays: 9:30 am – 2 pm until October 17 at Canal Place in Cumberland
1st Tuesday of each month from 4-6 pm until October 13 at St. Johns Lutheran Church, 406 Arch Street, South Cumberland
For more information about shopping at farmers markets and to find locations near you, visit  or

Friday, May 29, 2015

Healthy Grilling

Grilling season is here! Have you heard of the link between grilled meats and increased cancer risk?  According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), there isn’t enough evidence to show that grilled meats specifically increase risk for cancers. However, grilling contributes to formation of polycyclic aromatic amines (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are cancer-causing substances.

Grilling tips from AICR include:

• Eat smaller portions of grilled meats. Stick with 3-oz. portions or less.  A 3-oz portion is about the size of a deck of cards.  Kabobs are a great way to help your make your meat go further and add healthy vegetables and fruit.
• Precook meats and then finish on the grill.

• Use lean cuts of meat and trim any visible fat.

• Try a marinade.  Research suggests that marinating meat significantly reduces the formation of harmful HCAs.

• Grill vegetables and fruits, which do not develop harmful HCAs when grilled, but do contain beneficial antioxidants and phytochemicals which protect against cancer.

• Always include plenty of fruits and veggies with all meals to fight cancer and boost intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber too.

For more information and healthy recipes, visit

With asparagus season upon us, here is a grilled asparagus recipe from Cooking Light’s website

Grilled Asparagus Rafts

Pinning asparagus spears together with skewers makes them easier to flip and grill evenly on both sides.
16 thick asparagus spears (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of salt
Prepare grill to high heat.
Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Arrange 4 asparagus spears on a flat surface. Thread 2 (3-inch) skewers or toothpicks horizontally through spears 1 inch from each end to form a raft. Repeat procedure with remaining asparagus spears.
Combine soy sauce, oil, and garlic; brush evenly over asparagus rafts. Grill 3 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds, pepper, and salt.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 asparagus raft) Nutritional Information Amount per serving:        Calories 50   Fat 2.1 g   Protein 3.2 g   Carbohydrate 6.1 g   Fiber 2.4 g   Sodium 190 mg

Contact Theresa Stahl, Outpatient Community Dietitian at 240-964-8416 or with questions or to find out about upcoming nutrition programs.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Food for Thought Book Club

Have you ever eaten when you weren’t hungry or kept eating when you knew you were full? Have you grabbed a snack on the go and didn’t even realize when you had finished eating it? Or do you grab a bag of chips or pretzels or popcorn and eat without thinking while watching TV? These examples of mindless eating are everyday occurrences for many.

In keeping with the goal of meeting the challenge of healthcare change, the new WMHS Food for Thought Book Club is helping to improve health by giving readers nourishing food for thought. Facilitated by Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian and Melody Lindner, RDN, LDN, Clinical Dietitian, this new book club spent the past six weeks reading, digesting and sharing thoughts regarding Dr. Susan Alber’s book Eating Mindfully, which seeks to decrease mindless eating and help readers enjoy a balanced relationship with food.

This book dives into activities meant to help readers to be more “mindful” about eating.  Being more mindful means really savoring each bite, appreciating each meal, slowing down and taking in each eating experience, noting your hunger cues and listening to your body. Overall, it provides readers a way to be more aware of eating patterns and build self-awareness. These are universal skills that can be used by all as a non-diet approach to healthy eating habits.

Mindful eating and self-awareness activities from the book were completed by the group during each meeting, which allowed participants to experience them first-hand and discuss them with each other.

According to Theresa Stahl, “A book club allows participants time to explore a book with other people that may or may not get the same take-away messages from reading the same information.  Every person has unique life experiences and health situations and this discussion and exploration of various viewpoints is both satisfying and educational.”

The Food for Thought Book Club will continue with another book, Slim by Design by Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating. According to Slim by Design, Dr. Wansink uses cutting-edge, never-before-seen research from his acclaimed Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University to reveal how innovative and inexpensive design changes can make it mindlessly easy for people to eat healthier. The next book club will begin this summer.

For more information please contact Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, Outpatient Community Dietitian, Western Maryland Health System at 240-964-8416 or

Blog contributed by JJ Briggs, a graduate of Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences, who is currently completing an ARAMARK Healthcare Distance Dietetic Internship at Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, and Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle

March is National Nutrition Month, which is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  This year's theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” where we encourage everyone to implement an all-around lifestyle change in order to be healthy.

There is no magic bullet for a healthy lifestyle; it is an on-going commitment to making small changes that add up to a healthier you.  This change should include regular physical activity, making informed food choices, and consuming nutrient dense, fewer calorie foods.  By making these changes, you can decrease your risk of chronic disease, maintain a healthy weight, and achieve overall better health.  This year's theme was developed to serve as a reminder that life and health are about balance and moderation.

A healthy lifestyle is not about one specific food and it doesn't have to be started at any one time of year.  Most importantly, it does not mean depriving ourselves of the things we enjoy.  Developing a healthy lifestyle is about finding a daily routine that works for you, while still finding time for the foods and activities you love.

The WMHS Food and Nutrition Services Department will be celebrating National Nutrition Month every week during the month of March!

March 20th - Registered Dietitian Nutritionists will be available in the cafeteria from 12-1pm with nutrition information and chances to win a raffle!
The cafeteria will be offering a chance to win a prize basket for every person who chooses a fruit or vegetable serving with their meal!

In hopes that warmer weather is coming soon, one way to start gearing up for a healthy lifestyle change this Spring is to start thinking about buying fresh produce.  Below are some tips to help!

 from USDA's

1.  Celebrate the season- In-Season Fruits and Vegetables for the Spring:
March:  Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pineapple, and Mangoes
April: Zucchini, Rhubarb, Broccoli, Lettuce, Artichokes, Asparagus, Spring Peas, Pineapples,
2.  Why pay full price?- Check for sales, coupons, and specials that will cut costs.  Also check to see if your store has a membership card; sign up for even more savings.
3.  Stick to your list- Plan out your meals ahead of time and make a grocery list.  You will save money buying only what you need.
4.  Try canned or frozen- Canned and frozen items may be less expensive than fresh per serving.  For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice or water and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
5.  Buy small amounts frequently- Buy small amounts more often to ensure you can eat the foods without throwing any away to save money and reduce waste.
6.  Buy in bulk when items are on sale- For both fresh and frozen fruits/vegetables that you use often, a large size bag is a better buy.
7.  Store brands = savings- Opt for store brands; you will get the same or similar product for a cheaper price.
8.  Keep it simple- Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form.  Pre-cut, pre-washed, and ready-to-eat foods are convenient but often cost much more.
9.  Plant your own- Start a garden in the yard or on the deck in containers.  Herbs, cucumbers, peppers, or tomatoes are good for beginners.
10.  Plan and cook smart- Prepare and freeze vegetable soups, stews, or other dishes in advance. Add leftover veggies to casseroles or blend them to make soup.

Here is a healthy recipe shared at the recent Prevention is Power Cancer and Heart Disease Prevention event at Western Maryland Regional Medical Center.  This veggie packed chili is a great way to lighten up a traditional comfort food for Spring, so give it a try one night this week!  Hope you enjoy!
Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
Total time: 40 minutes
Servings 6-8 Units US
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, about 1 cup, chopped
1/2 lb lean ground turkey (optional)
2 smashed garlic cloves
2 cups sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cinnamon
4 cups diced tomatoes (and their juice)
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
water (as needed) or tomato juice (as needed)
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 (540 ml) can black beans, drained
1 cup canned kidney beans, drained
1 small zucchini (about 3/4 cup)
1 lime
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan or small soup pot on medium high heat.
Add onion, turkey, garlic and sweet potato and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add seasonings and saute for another 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes and their juice and jalapeno and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
You might need to add water or tomato juice if too much liquid evaporates.
Stir in red pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add beans and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
Add zucchini and cook for 5 minutes more.
Stir in squeeze of lime juice to taste.
Can be made a day in advance, add a little liquid when reheating.

Contributed by Amanda Pratt, a graduate of West Virginia University with a bachelor's degree in Human Nutrition and Foods and minor in Food Science and Technology. Amanda is currently completing an ARAMARK Healthcare Distance Dietetic Internship at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Loving Foods That Love You Back

February is American Heart Month. Here are some foods to love for a healthy heart:
1. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, that helps promote healthy blood pressure. Their high water and fiber content helps you feel full on less calories.
2. Whole grains like oatmeal contain fiber that helps decrease cholesterol levels.
3.  Fish, such as salmon, contain omega-3 fats that help lower cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week.
4. Beans, such as kidney and soy, are high in protein and fiber, making a great substitute for meats at meals.
5. Nuts and seeds contain heart healthy fats and help you feel satisfied between meals, helping to control appetite and weight.  But eat in small portions of 1-2 tablespoons if trying to control weight. Sprinkle on salads, cereal and yogurt.

Today, WMHS is offering a free program on how lifestyles affect both cancer and heart disease prevention called Prevention is Power: Take Control of Cancer and Heart Disease. Dr. Blanche Mavromatis, Medical Oncologist will speak on cancer prevention and Dr. Michael Curran, Cardiologist, will speak on heart disease prevention.  Presentation will be from 5:30-6:30 pm and from 6:30-7:30 pm there will be exhibits including:
BMI/body fat analyzer
Sit risk assessments
Blood pressure checks
Food demos of affordable and healthy foods with samples and recipes
Stretching and movement
(a breath test that detects carbon monoxide levels for smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke)
The latest on e-cigarettes, and much more.
Visit for full details. Registration is not required; however, those that pre-register will be entered in a drawing for a door prize.  To pre-register or for more information, please call Carey Moffatt at 240-964-8418.

And every month, WMHS offer free Heart Healthy Nutrition classes.  The next one will be on Tuesday, March 17 at 1:00 pm.  For more information, contact Joni Brode, RDN, LDN at 240-964-8677 or to register, contact WMHS Food and Nutrition at 240-964-2303.