“Synbiotics” are Good for You

Provided by Angela Franks, Dietetic Intern, University of Texas San Antonio

What comes to mind when you think of bacteria? Get rid of them! Right? We have many weapons: bleach, antimicrobial cleaning products, and anti-microbial personal products, etc.  But, many people are not aware of the fact that there are good bacteria as well as bad bacteria. In fact, the good bacteria can help to fight the bad bacteria! The good bacteria are now in the research spotlight and there are many health benefits that are being discovered. In fact, they are making us healthier! The good bacteria are now known as probiotics. Bad bacteria are commonly called pathogens. Currently, research is showing that probiotics may improve:

  • cholesterol levels
  • immune system
  • blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • coronary heart disease
  • diarrhea caused by antibiotics
  • digestion
  • oral health
  • parasite infections
  • some respiratory and urinary tract infections
  • anxiety, stress and depression
  • detoxification

These little critters can also make vitamins and antioxidants for us! They build “homes” for themselves in our colon and when they are nice and cozy, they produce compounds that are beneficial for our health. Among them are Biotin (a B vitamin), Vitamin K, and certain healthy fats.

Are you already eating foods that have probiotics? Common foods include: sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, buttermilk, cottage cheese, cheese, vinegar, miso, and tempeh. Be sure to read the label for the words “live cultures,” however, because not all of these foods are made with the living cultures. You can also take probiotics in supplement form.

Do you eat food? Of course you do! It turns out that good bacteria need food too in order to survive and thrive. Since probiotics live in our colon, they need to eat food that we are not able to digest. It turns out that there is a component of food that we are not able to digest – FIBER! Some foods have special fibers that probiotics like best – inulin and FOS (fructooligosaccharides). Some of these foods include: tomatoes, artichokes, onions, garlic, leeks, jicama, asparagus, berries, bananas, ground flax seeds, and legumes. Some food manufacturers are fortifying breakfast cereals and other foods with prebiotics.

Consuming probiotics with prebiotics is known as “synbiotics”. You can make your own synbiotic meal and the little microbial friends living in your colon will enjoy it as much as you!

Spicy Synbiotic Stir Fry stir fry photo

Servings: 4
Time: About 30 minutes

Stir Fry Ingredients:
1 pound chicken breasts, cut to ¼ inch thickness
1 cup chopped Bok Choy
½ cup chopped asparagus
½ cup shredded jicama
½ cup diced tomatoes stir fry nutrition
½ cup thinly sliced red onions
½ cup sliced red peppers
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 tbs minced ginger
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
Optional to add spice: 1-2 tsp crushed chili flakes

Sauce Ingredients:
4 oz fat free plain yogurt (or fat free sour cream) with live cultures
1 tsp chili garlic sauce or siracha (2 tsp if you like the spice!)
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce


  1. Place olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add diced chicken, onions and garlic and sauté, until chicken is lightly golden brown.
  3. Add asparagus, jicama, tomatoes, red peppers, and soy sauce and cook until asparagus is slightly tender.
  4. Add bok choy and sesame oil and cook for 2-3 minutes until bok choy stems are slightly tender.
  5. Place yogurt (or sour cream), chili sauce, and soy sauce in a bowl and stir.
  6. Drizzle sauce over your stir-fry when serving.

12 Wellness Rules To Live By

March is National Nutrition Month, and while we at Meals on Wheels San Antonio are busy taking care of our seniors, we want to make sure you are taking care of yourself too!

Below are 12 Total Body Wellness Rules to Live by from EatRight.org. And if 12 seems like a lot (it is!), just pick one or two and see what you can incorporate over the next few months to improve your overall wellness!


1. Set one realistic health and wellness goal today (but don’t promise yourself too much)! 2. Color your health happy by planning at least one meatless day into your week (think colorful vegetables).
3. Pamper your brain and fuel it well with carbohydrates like fruit, vegetables and whole grains plus beneficial fats from nuts, seeds, fish and avocado.
4. Keep your pantry, fridge and freezer free of foods with a lot of added sugar, solid fat and salt.
5. Add healthful foods into your day, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins.
6. Stay hydrated by drinking water instead of sugary drinks. Keep a reusable water bottle with you to always have water on hand.
7. Make physical activity a regular part of the day. Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly.
8. Factor in dietary fiber with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans, peas and lentils.
9. Sit less today – stand while working with a standing desk, pace during conference calls and walk at lunchtime.
10. Slow down your eating by taking at least 20 minutes to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner (it takes 20 minutes to feel fullness).
11. Forge ahead – don’t let a bump in the road of your healthy lifestyle get you down. Keep your goals top of mind and move forward.
12. Make time for restful sleep. Aim for 7 to 9 hours every night.

My Time at Meals on Wheels San Antonio

Provided by Kristen Keith, Dietetic Intern
University of Texas at San Antonio

My name is Kristen Keith and I am a student in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Over the course of this program I have had countless opportunities to learn, grow, and better myself as an individual and as a curious student. My time here at Meals on Wheels, San Antonio has made Fall 2016 one of the most impactful experiences of my dietetic career, and my life in its entirety.

I remember learning that Meals on Wheels San Antonio would be my site; I was over-the-moon excited to work with an organization that has such a lasting impact on the older adult community. Any chance that I can get, I make my presentations and projects on my grandfather, Carl Keith. The older adult population is near and dear to my heart, so the opportunity to impact their nutrition was incredibly exciting. Knowing that they would be my target population for the semester genuinely gave me so much fulfillment, purpose, and the determination and motivation to do my best work.

My activities this semester were diverse and eye-opening. Rhaizza Velasquez, my preceptor and the Registered Dietitian for Meals on Wheels, helped me understand the intricacies of large-scale menu planning. There are special diets, food preferences, and ease of preparation factors to keep in mind when crafting the perfect healthy menu for approximately 3,600 clients. Rhaizza makes it look easy! She has taught me that you can make a delicious and healthy meal for any person on any diet. We would search and search for the perfect recipe to add to the menu for the month. Once we would find a recipe, the modification process could begin. We would start to modify the recipe in order for it to be healthy for renal, gluten free, diabetic/heart healthy, bland, and other clients’ dietary needs.

Not only did I get a front row seat to observing the menu process, but I also experienced a taste of the other operations at Meals on Wheels. I traveled to clients’ houses with a case worker, observed the special diet preparation with Chef Mary, delivered meals with Monica, presented to companionship services training attendees, observed food service meetings with the manager Vince, wrote a holiday themed blog, conducted a community needs assessment project, implemented supplement changes, and observed the cooking process bright and early at 4:00am. Every single person I came into contact with at Meals on Wheels impacted my learning in numerous ways and angles. Not only did I learn more about community nutrition, but I gained more knowledge about the impact of community services on our population.

I look forward to applying the semester’s lessons to my future coursework and time in the professional workforce. Learning from all of the wonderful and dedicated Meals on Wheels employees has been, and will always be, an integral part of my success as a dietetic student.

10 Ways To Eat Healthy On A Budget


Eating healthy on a budget could be difficult especially after the Holidays. The following are some tips to make it possible.

  1. Buy fresh produce when it is in season and freeze it
    Eating fresh produce is great, but buying fresh produce off-season could be super expensive. Only buy what is currently on season.
  2. Look for sales and plan meals accordingly
    If your local store provides a saving-card make sure you sign up for it and check the weekly circular to see what’s on sale.
  3. Try less expensive cuts of meat and enjoy different cooking methods
    For example, baking your chicken or pork.
  4. Eat more whole grains and legumes
    Legumes are healthy and inexpensive. They will fill you up with fiber and protein.
  5. Plan your meals ahead
    It is easy and convenient to always have something ready in your refrigerator and it helps to minimize waste.
  6. Broaden your horizons
    Try different cuisines. Indian and Mexican cuisines rely on inexpensive ingredients. Mediterranean cuisine relies more on vegetables.
  7. Keep an organized fridge and pantry
    This could help you to avoid waste. Make sure the newest products are always on the back. If you freeze your meals make sure you periodically go through your freezer and eat what you have in there.
  8. Re-purpose leftovers
    Instead of eating the same meal from yesterday try to create new recipes using your leftovers. Look for recipes online.
  9. Go to the farmers market at the end of the day
    In some areas you might find great deals if you go to the farmers market an hour before they closed.
  10. Shop in different supermarkets
    Compare prices and look for the best deal.

High Fiber Foods!

As you get ready to stock your fridge for the New Year once you run out of holiday leftovers, think about getting some of these goodies packed with fiber to help you feel full and satisfied to tackle your 2017 to-do list…


Tips for Holiday Eating

Provided by Kristen Keith, Dietetic Intern
Coordinated Program in Dietetics at the University of Texas at San Antonio


Can we get through the holiday season free of guilt, weight gain, or negativity towards our self-esteem? (Hint: the answer starts with Y and ends with S).

The holiday season is notorious for its numerous tasty food options. Between family gatherings and the office party, there seems to always be a temptation right behind your shoulder. Although it seems like a daunting task, you have the power to make this holiday season a joyful and healthful experience. By setting realistic goals, applying proper planning and employing smart tips, you can emerge into the New Year even happier and healthier than the year before.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin


  • Refrain from “saving” your calories throughout the day by skipping meals1
  • Avoid overeating by using a smaller plate2
  • Survey the buffet/table before getting a plate and choose your favorite foods and skip the others3
  • Keep each food separated from each other for portion control (ex: keep mashed potatoes from touching the stuffing)
  • Make healthy food swaps by categorizing foods into eat, sample, and skip foods1
  • Choose healthy and filling foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to aid in satiety2
  • Eat until you are satisfied, not “stuffed”3
  • Wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds in order to give your body time to process what you have eaten2
  • Always have a glass of tea or water with you at all times. Stay hydrated!
  • Get the most satisfaction from every bite! Employ slow and mindful chewing1
  • Share the health! Bring a dish to the gathering that highlights one of your favorite vegetables
  • Post-meal nap? Position yourself at an incline to reduce your risk of reflux
  • Shift the focus of the holidays to socializing with old friends and family



  1. Helpful tips for holiday parties. Eat Right Website. http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/lifestyle/seasonal/helpful-tips-for-healthy-holiday-parties. Published January 31, 2014. Reviewed December 2013. Accessed November 18, 2016.
  2. Kohn, MS, RDN, LDN J. ed. How to enjoy the holiday without the weight gain. Eat Right Website. http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/lifestyle/holidays/enjoy-the-holiday-without-the-weight-gain. Published November 24, 2015. Accessed November 18, 2016.
  3. Macaire, RD G. ed. Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating. Sutter Health CPMC. http://www.cpmc.org/about/e-health/11-05 healthy-holidays.html. Published 2015. Accessed November 18, 2016.

The holidays are the perfect time to share the love


Meals on Wheels San Antonio joins Meals on Wheels America and Subaru in Sharing the Love this Holiday Season

Subaru Share the Love Event ® helps deliver nutritious meals and compassion to San Antonio’s seniors

San Antonio, TX (November 17, 2016) – Meals on Wheels San Antonio is proud to announce that it will be participating in the annual Subaru Share the Love Event as a member of Meals on Wheels America – one of four national Share the Love charitable partners for the ninth year running. From November 17, 2016 to January 3, 2017, Subaru will donate $250 for every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased to the customer’s choice of participating charity.

Participating Meals on Wheels America members, like Meals on Wheels San Antonio, will receive a share of the revenue raised by Subaru in their state. Meals on Wheels San Antonio has partnered with North Park Subaru and North Park Subaru Dominion to raise awareness for the popular year-end sales and giving event, and drive support for Meals on Wheels through a blanket drive for our seniors and a pet food drive for their companion animals.

“It is a true testament to the value of Meals on Wheels and the strength of our nationwide network that Subaru of America and its customers choose to give back to this vital service year after year,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “Since its inception, Share the Love has helped deliver more than 1.4 million meals to seniors served by Meals on Wheels. It is our hope that this year’s event ensures that even more seniors receive the nourishment they need to continue living independently at home.”

This year, for the first time throughout the life of the program, there will be no cap on the total donation from Subaru of America to its Share the Love charitable partners. By the end of this year’s event, Subaru hopes to exceed a grand total of $90 million donated since the creation of Share the Love.

“We at Subaru are thrilled to support our national and hometown charity partners for the ninth consecutive year,” said Alan Bethke, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Subaru of America Inc. “Through the Share the Love platform we are proud to continue our commitment to the causes our customers care about most and look forward to exceeding a grand total of $90 million donated through this initiative

 By purchasing or leasing a new Subaru during the Event and selecting Meals on Wheels America as your charity of choice, you can help deliver nutritious meals and other important services to seniors right here in San Antonio.

For more information, visit www.samow.org/stlfaq.

Meals on Wheels San Antonio
As a Christian Senior Services program, Meals on Wheels of San Antonio prepares and delivers hot, nutritious meals each weekday to homebound seniors living in Bexar County. A registered dietitian on staff ensures all meals meet nutrition standards for older adults. Older adults at least 60 years of age who are homebound, unable to cook for themselves, and lack outside support are eligible for services at no charge. On a limited basis, disabled individuals under 60 may be eligible for meals if funding is available.

About Meals on Wheels America
Meals on Wheels America is the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network exists in virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.


Healthy Holiday Snacks

We know that everyone gets the opportunity to enjoy their share of sweet treats in October! With the holiday season approaching, you might be wondering about about some quick, healthy snack options that will keep your energy up for all of the festivities. Below are some options we think anyone can enjoy and they taste great too!


Feel like trying something new in the kitchen, or want a treat to bring to all of your holiday gatherings? Check out this recipe for Easy Homemade Hummus:

Yield: 1 ½ cups


  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeashummus
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a ½ teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.
  3. Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth (approximately 1 to 2 minutes).
  4. If too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency.
  5. Enjoy with fresh fruit, vegetables, or crackers!

Source: eatright.org
Recipe adapted from inspiredtaste.net

Umm, what? Allium!

Allium is a type of flowering plant that includes the cultivated onion, garlic, shallot, leek, and scallion. These versatile vegetables contain sulfur compounds that are responsible for the rich flavor and aroma. The Allium family has been studied for several years. Here are some of the benefits:


In conclusion, these vegetables provide cardiovascular benefits and many anti-inflammatory compounds that could easily help you treat or prevent other conditions. Without a doubt, Allium is a must in your kitchen and it should be included in all your meals.

If you cannot think of a recipe with those ingredients. Included below is a simple recipe for sautéed greens. The recipe is super easy to make and it shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to prepare. The recipe also contains Kale, one of the healthiest green leafy vegetables available in the supermarket. You could easily add more ingredients if you like or just make it the way it is. Remember the more the merrier!

Healthy tip: add the olive oil at the end to increase the flavor.

Sautéed Greens

1 cup sliced Leeks
4 cups chopped Kale
1 TBSP + ¼ cup Low-sodium Vegetable broth
3 medium cloves Garlic
1 tsp fresh Lemon juice
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste


  1. Heat 1 TBSP broth in a skillet.
  2. Add leeks to broth and sliced over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add kale and ¼ cup broth.
  4. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Toss with pressed garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce (optional), olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  6. Enjoy!


Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods