Articles written by Leslie Shallcross


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  • Not-so-genius hacks for keeping food fresh

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2023

    I will admit to being an enthusiastic, nutrition-minded cook with a penchant for making twice as much as my household can eat and often neglecting many purchased fresh edibles until they appear fit only for compost. Just this week, my countertop fruit bowl with tomatoes, avocados, apples, oranges and limes, transformed from beautiful and welcoming to "oh, no, I've done it again," with a couple overripe avocados and a seriously deteriorating, bruised apple. Even though none of us likes to throw f...

  • Leftovers: The holiday blessings that keep giving

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2022

    With the fall and winter holiday season already upon us, we are planning menus and stocking up on ingredients to make family favorites. You may already intentionally plan for leftovers, using "cook once, eat all week" strategies, or you may just know that there will be more potatoes, peas or pie than your nutritionist recommends consuming at one meal. In either case, storing and creatively using the excess may daunt a weary cook. Studies on food waste in America suggest that most households...

  • In praise of pickling and fermenting your food

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2022

    This may be jumping the gun a bit for more northern latitudes, but Alaska gardens will soon give us plenty of vegetables for making crisp, brined pickles or tangy fermentations. Some may be wrinkling their noses at the very suggestion of these sour condiments and as a nutritionist, I can only cautiously promote pickles on the plate. At the same time, I love pickles and fermented foods. I love classic dills, I love sweet and sour, I love the complex salty, tangy flavors of fermented vegetables. C...

  • Healthy habits strengthen your heart and your head

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2022

    Most Americans over age 60 are fearful of age-related health decline and disease. According to one survey, the fears of dementia and Alzheimer's disease top the list. These fears are not without cause - the most recent statistics estimate that 6.2 million older Americans are living with Alzheimer's dementia which accounts for 60 to 70% of dementia cases. Dementia is a general term for cognitive problems that interfere with daily living. It can result from or with other conditions such as...

  • New guidelines for better nutrition and health

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2021

    Every five years since 1980, the U.S. government has released a new version of the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans”. These reports are thorough reviews of up-to-date diet and health research, focused on population-wide health promotion and chronic disease prevention. If one looks at the earliest guidelines through to the present, in some ways they don’t appear terribly different. But, the small and subtle changes in each version are the result of exhaustive consideration of the evidence and expert scientific thought. The earliest versi...

  • Scaling recipes for smaller gatherings

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2021

    Growing up in a large family and ten years of dabbling as a caterer makes cooking for a crowd my default. Even with many intervening years, I still tend to cook much larger quantities than truly needed - smaller amounts just don't look like enough and my go-to recipes don't help. Prior to COVID-19 limiting the social circle, extra quantities might have been shared with co-workers or friends. But without these extra eaters, and considerably more home cooking than usual for my small, safe "pod",...

  • Better nutrition adds years to your life and life to your years

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2020

    My 95-year old mother lives in an independent living apartment community and no longer cooks for herself. Her walk down the hall to the dining room gives her a little exercise and the other residents who share her table provide companionship and support. With three out of the four at her table very hard of hearing, it isn't always easy to have great conversations, but they manage to keep up with each other's visiting children, health changes and travel plans. And, they help each other order...

  • Interested in health and enjoy helping others?

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2020

    The State Diabetes Prevention and Control Program partners with Leslie Shallcross at the UAF Cooperative Extension Service to offer training for lifestyle coaches interested in delivering the evidence-based National Diabetes Prevention Program developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This program is designed to help people make lifestyle changes and lose weight to ultimately reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and have a better overall quality of life. This lifestyle coach training will be offered in...

  • Prepare and store your meals in advance

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2018

    As a Girl Scout, I learned the motto, "Be Prepared". This mostly meant building first aid kits, knowing how to start a fire, setting aside water and food or other preparations for emergencies. In my current career (no longer a Girl Scout), the advice to be prepared takes on a bit of a different meaning, although no less practical or important. Being prepared can mean saving time and money on food and food preparation as well as helping meet nutrition goals like eating more fruits and...

  • Preserving summer's bounty: Make your own jerky

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Oct 1, 2017

    Not very many years ago high-carbohydrate bars were the "go-to" for hikers and other athletes. Now, when I pick up snacks for the trail, the shelves are loaded with pemmican-like meat snacks or meat jerky. Marketing statistics show meat snack sales increases of more than 45 percent between 2011 and 2017, with jerky second in popularity to potato chips in the "salty foods" category. In the past year alone, beef jerky sales have risen 7 percent, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef...

  • So many alternatives to sugar

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2017

    As a one-time professional baker (only slightly famous), I am well acquainted with the magic of sugar – a comforting sweetness, a foil for bitter, spicy and sour flavors and an essential for moist, tender and light baked products. In my more recent role as a registered dietitian, I am also aware of the pitfalls of eating too much sugar – cavities, obesity, elevated blood sugar levels and increased risk of heart disease. We are pretty clear how sugar leads to obesity, dental decay and diabetes; b...

  • Juicing: Squeezing nutritional fact from fiction

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2017

    You may have heard some of the following claims: gets rid of wrinkles, great for weight loss, gives your digestive system a rest, detoxifies your body and cures cancer – these are some of the health claims that proponents of "juicing" make. This popular part of the 60s and 70s health food movement seems to be back, with fresh juices standard fare in chic, health-focused eateries. With all dietary emphasis on eating more fresh vegetables and fruits and the many tantalizing health claims, you m...

  • State fairs have long history with agriculture, education

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2016

    Fill a tote bag – hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, raincoat, umbrella, extra layer for warmth, rain boots, water bottle. Find the car keys and wallet and hop in the car. Destination - the Alaska State Fair! It wouldn’t be summer without at least one fair visit to marvel at giant vegetables, listen to bleating goats, crowing chickens, buzzing honey bees and enjoy local Alaskan fair foods like rhubarb-lemonade and fried, local peanut potatoes. State fairs have been part of American culture since the mid 1800s, providing education and ent...

  • Who produces your food?

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2016

    You've heard of omnivores, vegetarians and vegans and you probably have an idea of what these terms mean. But, a newer term "locavore" may be unfamiliar. Actually, the word locavore has been around for 10 years and current momentum promoting sustainable communities by "eating local" has pushed the locavore movement. The locavore chooses to eat only locally grown and produced food or as much locally produced food as possible. "Local' is often defined as grown or produced within a 50 mile radius...

  • Don't waste that citrus: It can be frozen

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2015

    The numbers associated with food waste are nothing short of staggering. Americans waste 35 million tons of food per year. This isn't just a loss of food that might otherwise feed us. Growing, harvesting, transporting and storing of that 35 million tons also consumes fuel and degrades our air and water. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the National Resources Defense Council estimate that "as much as 40 percent of the U. S. food supply ends up in a dumpster." This is a 50...

  • Eggs are as nutritious as they are versatile

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2015

    Just in time for spring celebration menus, it looks like many of us can drop the worry about eating a few eggs – yolks and all. Although the new dietary guidelines won’t be published until much later in the year, the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee suggests that the advice for heart healthy diets may shift from decreasing dietary cholesterol to decreasing saturated fat, sugar and refined carbohydrates. This isn’t really very new thinking – it is the painful, slow process of discovering that accepted scienti...

  • Prediabetes risks and treatments

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2014

    Because I am a dietitian, friends sometimes ask me to help them interpret their health fair blood test results. This fall, I had the unhappy chore of telling a friend that the test results showed “prediabetes” and to talk with a physician. Wanting to put a positive spin on things, I also said that it was great to find out about the prediabetes because there are some simple and effective ways to deal with the problem. My friend is one of the 86 million people in the United States with “prediabetes”. This is a condition in which the blood s...

  • Great medicine at your local farmer's market

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2014

    If your goal is to maintain good health, hightail it down to your local farmers market and try a selection from nature’s medicine chest. Rarely does a week go by without new research showing that the vitamins and minerals and many bioactive compounds in foods provide real medicine for what ails you. Despite Alaska’s relatively short growing season and cool climate, I am constantly astonished by the variety of high nutrient vegetables and fruits that grow locally. Here are a few Alaska “powerhouse” vegetables and fruits you may want to stock u...

  • Dust off the rice cooker and improve your diet

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2014

    Sweet Thai sticky rice with coconut milk, fragrant Indian basmati rice pilaf, glistening sushi rice and creamy Italian parmesan risotto – rice elevated from dull to delicious with some seasoning and respect. By respect, I mean the methods of preparing and cooking. In many cultures with strong affections for rice, an electric rice cooker has replaced the stovetop as the cooking method of choice. Several types of rice cookers can be found in most kitchen equipment stores. A simple rice cooker c...

  • Designing your home for aging in place

    Leslie Shallcross and Art Nash, For Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2014

    My mom loved her own home - a wooded, two-acre property on a rural country road. She liked caring for her home and relaxing on her small, screened porch with a view of birds at the feeder and flowers in her garden. She liked having friends and family come for visits. Her own dishes, her own bed, her own music, eating when and what she wanted. As her vision declined and she stopped driving, she did think that it would be sensible to find a new home in town where she could walk to the library, hairdresser or grocery. Dad, on the other hand,...

  • Sleep is even more important than we thought

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2013

    More than once have my well-intentioned suggestions for maintaining health been dismissed as not worth the effort. Even my wonderful mother, at 89 years, will sometimes say, “I don’t care if I live longer so stop telling me to exercise and eat right.” Other things I’ve heard are “we’ve all got to go some time” and “getting old is just a natural part of life so why resist it.” One of my latest suggestions to mom was that she improve her sleep. Living longer maybe isn’t the goal but living well while you are here certainly is worth some attentio...

  • Don't let poor food sanitation spoil your holidays

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2013

    Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, I've had several wake-up calls about safe food handling practices (actually these were calls to my Cooperative Extension Service office where I was not sleeping). Within a period of a couple days, I received calls requesting information about two separate types of food-borne illness or food poisoning. One was a fairly common culprit – salmonella from chicken. The other – a very rare case in Alaska though more common in the Lower 48 – toxop...

  • Lifestyle choices to beat the flu season

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Oct 1, 2013

    Flocks of geese, noisy in their southern-bound departure, an unmistakable scent in the morning air, a light snow covering the mountain tops - fall has definitely arrived. It can be a time of excitement with the rush of back-to-school, new indoor projects and plans for holidays. But for many, especially seniors, fall also brings the concern of facing another cold and flu season. Throughout the world, the colder months are labeled “cold and flu” season. Lower humidity and cooler air temperatures make it easier for cold and influenza viruses to...

  • Local strawberries: A taste treat and nutritional powerhouse

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2013

    In late spring, I moved into a condominium, regretting that I wasn’t going to be able to do much gardening, with the condo’s practically nonexistent yard. My new kitchen window provided a close view of my neighbor’s neatly kept lawn, sidewalk area and beautiful flowering baskets. The neighbors seemed to be making the most of it and were frequently out tending the yard and even offered to water my flowers (very nice neighbors). As summer has progressed, the low green foliage next to their house...

  • Juicers promise high-octane veggies, fruits

    Leslie Shallcross, For Senior Voice|Jul 1, 2013

    Gets rid of wrinkles, provides rapid weight loss, gives your digestive system a rest, detoxifies your body and even cures cancer – these are some of the benefit claims that proponents of “juicing” make. This popular part of the 60’s and 70’s health food movement seems to be back, with fresh juices standard fare in chic, health-focused eateries. With all the dietary emphasis on eating more fresh vegetables and fruits and the many tantalizing health claims, you may think that juicing could be...

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