Useful Information for Better Health from the Western Maryland Health System

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Celebrating Real Food

Did you know that fewer than 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 consume the recommended levels of total fruits and vegetables? Since 1980, the percentage of American children aged 6-19 who are obese has tripled, while the percentage of adults who are obese has doubled and the estimated annual medical cost for obesity is about $150 billion dollars. These are some of the eye-opening statistics noted by the Food Day Campaign.

Food Day, October 24, is a nationwide celebration to inspire Americans to choose healthy and sustainably produced food and is a grass-roots campaign for better food policies. It aims to help people Eat Real, which means cutting back on sugar drinks and processed foods in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and sustainably raised protein. To Eat Real:

1. Take advantage of local farmers markets and winter markets for fresh, local produce and sustainably raised protein.
2. Buy produce in season, which saves money and boosts flavor, but during winter months, canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables are great options. Choose those with no added sugar or salt.
3. Choose nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein foods for snacks instead of calorie-dense traditional snack foods such as chips and cookies.

WMHS and our community will celebrate Food Day with an Apple Crunch celebration in our cafeteria.

Apples are nutrition powerhouses. The old adage, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” was written for a reason. Research links eating apples with reduction of complications or prevention of various diseases, including Alzheimer’s, asthma, cancer, heart disease and type II diabetes. The fiber in apples helps to control blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol levels. Apples are low in calories and high in fiber.  One medium apple contains only about 80 calories and 5 grams of fiber.  

This season, try making your own apple chips. Preheat oven to 200-225 degrees F. Slice apples very thinly (mandolin works well, but not mandatory) and place in a single layer on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 1 hour, flip over and bake for another hour. Turn off oven and let cool in oven. Cooking times may vary depending on oven, so watch carefully towards the end.

For more nutrition information, contact Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian at or 240-964-8416.
For more information about Food Day, including ideas about how to celebrate at your organization, recipes, and a healthy Halloween kit, visit

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Easy, Smart Snacks to Satisfy After-School Hunger

When your hungry student comes home after school ready to devour the kitchen, be prepared with healthy snacks.  Snacks are an important part of the day to help kids get needed nutrients to grow and maintain a healthy weight and taking time to sit down and snack together provides a wonderful time to discuss the day.  

Most kids don’t eat enough veggies and fruit, so take advantage of after-school hunger and have cut up fruit and veggies in clear dishes or baggies at eye level in the ‘fridge. You will be surprised how quickly these are selected when ready to eat in grab and go containers.

Combine high fiber foods with protein rich foods for satisfying snacks. Here are some simple, quick ideas:

Raw veggies and hummus
Cottage cheese and fruit
Easy pizzas, made from English muffin or pita topped with pizza or tomato
           sauce, mozzarella cheese and mushrooms, onions and peppers
Low-sugar, high-fiber cereal with milk
Homemade trail mix made with cereal, nuts, and dried fruit, such as  
           Cheerios or whole grain Chex, peanuts and raisins or dried cranberries
Fresh fruit with Greek yogurt
Apples with peanut or almond butter
Fresh fruit smoothies made with 1 cup frozen fruit, ½ cup Greek yogurt
           and ½ cup milk of your choice

Try this juicy watermelon cooler for a refreshing, nutritious and delicious treat! Serve with easy pizzas or nut butter on whole grain toast.

Watermelon Cooler

1 cup crushed ice
1 cup seedless watermelon cubes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Blend all ingredients in blender.  Pour into 2 cups and garnish with a fresh squeezed lime wedge.

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.  And check out their fantastic book, No Whine with Dinner.

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

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Greens Cuisine

Greens, such as spinach, collards, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, mustard and turnip greens and even wild greens such as dandelion greens and purslane, are nutrition powerhouses. They are showing up everywhere. Even dandelion greens can be found in upscale supermarkets, farmers markets, and restaurants. Greens are high in vitamins A, B, C and K, minerals, such as calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, as well as fiber and disease-fighting carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene.

Dan Buettner, National Geographic fellow, Blue Zones researcher and author, states in his book, The Blue Zones Solution, that eating a cup of greens daily seemed to be one of the keys to a longer life in Ikaria, Greece. The Blue Zones are longevity hotspots around the globe, where people live the longest and healthiest lives. They include: Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Promoting longevity foods, the WMHS cafeteria includes greens on the menu daily. Kale has been added to the salad bar, along with the usual leafy green lettuces and spinach blends. Collards, kale and spinach are regulars in the “home zone” hot food area. And soups containing greens are also served, including Italian wedding soup.

Add greens to your meals for better health. Here are a couple simple, delicious recipes that my family and I enjoy.

Kale Chips

With about 160 calories in 15 potato chips, kale chips make a great substitution with only about 50 calories per cup.

To make kale chips, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Tear the kale leaves off of their stalk and tear into chip size pieces. Wash and spin dry in a salad spinner or dry with a towel. In a large bowl, add kale, 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil, salt-free herb seasoning and/or fresh minced garlic. Using your hands, coat each leaf. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil and spread kale pieces in a single layer and bake for 10-15 minutes until edges are light brown and toasty. Watch carefully at the end, as they go from lightly brown to too brown very quickly. Add a sprinkle of sea salt, if desired, after taking out of oven.

Green Machine Smoothie
·       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. Source:

For more information about WMHS nutrition programs, call WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, at 240-964-8416 or email

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Join Us for Exciting Upcoming Programs & Events

Summer fun is here! I hope you’re getting outside and enjoying the great outdoors in our beautiful mountains. Please join us for the following fun, exciting upcoming programs and events.

Food for Thought Book Club 
Have you ever wondered what people who live to be 100 years or longer eat? Beginning Tuesday July 12th and continuing on Tuesdays at noon or 4:30 p.m. through August 16th, the WMHS Food for Thought Book Club will be reading the Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner. For more information or to register, contact WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian, Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN at or 240-964-8416.

Food Demo at WMHS Farmers’ Market Grand Opening
Purchase fresh local produce at the WMHS Farmers’ Market every Wednesday, beginning July 6th, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. in the parking garage across from the Medical Arts Center entrance. The market is open to all employees, friends, family and the community!
Celebrate the grand opening from 2:30-4:00 p.m. on July 6th with live entertainment featuring Pan Jammin’ steel drum band and a cooking demo by WMHS Registered Dietitians.

Win Prizes with the Summer Fitness Fun Challenge
How would you like to win a FitBit Charge or fitness package courtesy of Life Fitness Management or other fun prizes? It’s simple. Between June 20 and August 20th, take a photo during your summer fun fitness activity and post it to one of the following social media sites (or email) along with the hashtag #makewalkingeasy.
Facebook: Make Healthy Choices Easy
Twitter or Instagram: @makehealthyeasy
Prizes will be awarded by random drawing at the end of the challenge. No registration is required. Just take a photo and post or email and you’re entered to win. For more information, contact WMHS Community Health & Wellness at 240-964-8417.

Change to Win Nutrition Program Helps You Lose Weight & Unhealthy Habits
Change to Win is a fun, 12-week non-diet nutrition and lifestyle program designed to help you stay healthy and feel well, lose weight if needed, and manage or help to decrease your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease.
The next session begins on either Tuesday, August 30th at noon or 4:30 p.m. or Wednesday, August 31st at 4:30. For more information or to register, contact instructor Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian at

Hope you have a healthy, fun summer! Hope to see you at any of our events and programs. Feel free to call or email Theresa, information above, with any questions.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Longevity Foods - Eat Well and Live Longer

What do people who live to be 100 years old eat, and what can we learn from them to improve the quality of our lives? This has become a hot topic and researchers are answering this important question.

Some findings of longevity researchers, including Dan Buettner, National Geographic researcher and author of The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People and SeAnne Safaii-Waite, PhD, RDN, of the University of Idaho and Nutrition and Wellness Associates, LLC, and Sue Linga, RDN, LD,  highlight the top foods associated with long  and healthy lives.

I had the pleasure of hearing Dan Buettner speak about his Blue Zones research several years ago and this fall I attended a conference sponsored by our local Institute on Medicine and Religion about Blue Zones living, with members of the Blue Zones team sharing about how they are putting the research into practice. Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing SeAnne Safaii and Sue Linga report on their research into the diets of centenarians around the world.

Some of the foods related with longevity include:

·      Fresh vegetables, such as greens, squash and potatoes
·      Beans, such as garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, fava beans and lentils
·      Soy milk and tofu
·      Goat’s milk cheese, such as feta
·      Garlic, lemons, sage and marjoram
·      Nuts, including almonds
·      Tea
·      Brown rice and oatmeal
·      Fermented foods, including yogurt, sauerkraut, Miso, kefir, sour dough and pickled
·      Fish

Make these foods part of your healthy meals. Other healthy habits of centenarians include daily movement, eating meals together and eating until satisfied not full.

This summer, July 12 – August 16, the WMHS Food for Thought Book Club will be reading the Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner. For more information, contact WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian, Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, FAND at or 240-964-8416.

Friday, April 29, 2016

It's Gardening Time!

April showers bring May flowers and fruits and vegetables, such as asparagus, onions and lettuce. Just around the corner, May is National Physical Fitness Month.   Did you know that gardening is a great form of exercise with healthy dividends?

Gardening provides aerobic, muscle-strengthening and stretching physical activity. Digging, raking, lifting, and squatting all burn calories and depending on the distance covered, gardening can add significant steps to your day. Although the number of calories burned varies depending on your age, gender, weight, metabolism, and intensity, an hour in the garden can burn between 200-400 calories.
Building on last year's success of the Williams Street Community Garden, WMHS will help support additional community gardens this year.

To help you with your home garden, University of Maryland Extension is teaching gardening classes at WMHS during May and June, including:

Strawberries for the Home Garden on May 17 from 6 – 7 pm in WMHS auditorium rooms 5 and 6
Know your Garden Friends and Foes on May 31 from 6-7 pm in WMHS auditorium rooms 5 and 6
Raspberries for the Home Garden on June 14 from 6-7 pm in WMHS auditorium rooms 1 and 2.

To register, contact the University of MD Extension at 301-724-3320.

Even if you don’t plant your own garden, you can still enjoy the fresh flavors of local produce. WMHS will again host a farmers market on the ground level of the parking garage every Wednesday beginning on July 6th. And beginning at the end of May or beginning of June, farmers markets will be held in downtown Cumberland on Thursdays, at the Canal Place/Train Station in Cumberland on Saturdays, at the mall in LaVale on Tuesdays and at City Place in Frostburg on Fridays.

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

Monday, March 14, 2016

National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month and this year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to "Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.”

Too often, people mindlessly eat and don’t really taste the flavors of their food. Slowing down and appreciating all the flavors of food and beverages helps prevent overeating and increases the pleasure of eating.

Today, less time is spent purchasing, preparing, eating and enjoying food. How is all this fast-paced eating affecting us? Unfortunately, research shows that people who eat quickly are more likely to be overweight than those who eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to get the signal of what has been eaten. Eating slowly allows one to feel full while eating fewer calories. If you’re feeling stuffed after a meal, you’ve eaten more than your body actually needs, which may lead to weight gain.

Eating slowly helps you fully enjoy each bite, sensing flavors and textures and increasing satisfaction.  When you eat, focus on eating instead of multi-tasking. Chew foods thoroughly and put utensils down in-between bites. Savor the flavor of healthy eating and enjoy your meals more for better health.

Visit the WMHS cafeteria during March for free nutrition information, tastings and giveaways from WMHS registered dietitian nutritionists. Buy fruits and veggies in the cafeteria during March and enter to win healthy gift baskets at the cash registers.

Join WMHS Dietitians on March 31 for a fun-filled food demo that will feature basic recipes with less than 10 ingredients that you can duplicate at home. The demo will be held in WMHS auditoriums 5 & 6 showcase a simple and healthy breakfast and dinner. There will be taste samples for all who attend. Seating is limited, so registration is required. Two sessions are available to choose from: 11:45-12:15 OR 12:30-1:00 pm. For more information or to register, call Jen Thomas in Wellness at 240-964-8417 or email  See brochure here:

For more nutrition information, visit The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ two websites, or, which include practical articles, recipes, videos and educational resources that promote good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle. For interactive National Nutrition Month games, visit