Q&A with Sammi Haber Brondo, RDN
As we enter the final stretch of the holiday season and look to a new year (and decade) the motivation for healthier eating and dieting may be high on your mind. Our December Pasta Spotlight, Sammi Haber Brondo, RDN, speaks to the idea of a balanced diet being the best diet, and advocates strongly that from Brussels sprouts to chocolate chip cookies, “all food fits.” Below she explains further what a balanced and healthy lifestyle looks like when it comes to food, and how we should all be thinking about the foods we eat as we step into 2020.
- Can you expand on your point of “All Foods Fit” and explain how pasta can fit into a healthy lifestyle?
I believe that a healthy lifestyle should be both sustainable and enjoyable. To me, this means including your favorite foods into your diet and knowing that you can eat more indulgent foods when you want as well.
There’s nothing fun about eliminating entire food groups or feeling like you can’t eat your favorite food – it just increases cravings for those foods. Instead, I recommend including all foods in your diet. Whole wheat pasta is a great source of fiber and healthy carbs. I love to pair it with protein and veggies as a part of any balanced meal. Additionally, white pasta, which isn’t a whole grain or fiber-rich carb, can fit on occasion, too. All foods can fit.
- As an RD, what are some tips and recommendations you provide for those looking to lead a healthier, more balanced lifestyle?
It’s important to know how to structure meals in order to make them balanced, filling and satisfying. I like to look at what we can add to a meal to make it as balanced as possible. For example, lunch and dinner meals should contain a lot of veggies, a source of protein, a source of whole grain or high fiber carbohydrates and a source of healthy fat. This not only helps make the meal physically filling and mentally satisfying, but it also allows you to add flavor and variety and mix things up so that healthy meals are never boring.
- What do you say to people who have negative misconceptions with pasta?
It’s so important to remember that carbs are necessary in the diet. Many of my private practice clients are shocked when we discuss healthy meals and I recommend whole wheat pasta as a healthy lunch or dinner option. I remind them that carbs are our body’s preferred source of energy, especially in exercise. Our brains alone need 130 grams of carbohydrates per day to function. When you choose whole grain, fiber-rich sources, like whole wheat pasta, they can be a really important part of a healthy diet. These healthy carbs help keep us full, regulate blood sugar, provide us with energy, keep our digestive system regular, and so much more.
- How are you kicking off a healthy New Year in 2020? Where can people start who are looking to make a change to their diet and lifestyle during the upcoming year?
There’s so much talk and pressure at the start of a new year about revamping your diet. But, any restrictive new year diet will almost always be short lived – at some point, restriction is just too hard and unrealistic to follow. Instead, look at things you can add to your diet and lifestyle that are healthy and realistic. Are you eating enough vegetables or can you add more veggies to your dinner every night? Can you add more whole grains to your diet? Or maybe, if you haven’t been letting yourself have dessert and find that you feel like you have no “control” whenever you’re around it, consider adding dessert once a week. Realistic changes that add foods and nutrients instead of removing them will be easiest to follow.
- Finally, can you share one of your pasta recipes with us?
This Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce is hearty and comforting, but also light and refreshing at the same time. Plus, with the assistance of a food processor, making the sauce is a breeze. There’s no chopping, cutting, or even cooking. When it comes to the type of pasta I use in this dish, I go with a whole wheat pasta. Did you know whole wheat pasta is actually a pretty decent source of protein? The durum wheat that whole wheat pasta is made with naturally contains protein, so a single serving of pasta usually has about 7-8 grams of protein – which is pretty good for a plant-based source! I love this dish with a side of roasted veggies or salad to up the veg and make it a super balanced and filling meal.
About Sammi Haber Brondo
Sammi Haber Brondo, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a private practice in NYC, Sammi Brondo Nutrition. Sammi graduated with a degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Master’s of Science in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She’s the author of The Essential Vegetable Cookbook, a cookbook with 130 simple and delicious vegetable-focused recipes. Sammi practices an all foods fit approach to nutrition and believes that in order for a diet to be sustainable, it also has to be realistic and enjoyable. She shares more about this philosophy in her membership program, All Foods Fit, and on her Instagram account, @veggiesandchocolate.