The industrial chemical Bisephenol A (BPA) has gotten increasingly negative attention in recent years. So much so, that congressional legislation was recently introduced to ban food packaging containing BPA. But it’s not necessary to wait for the government to take steps in order to scale back at home on products that contain BPA.
Ready to get your zucchini on? Here are seven inventive ways to cook it up now.
Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Herbs and Cheese
Attention, goat cheese fans! Here, the creamy spread, plus parsley and lemon juice, is topped with spinach and basil leaves before being rolled up in slices of grilled zucchini.
When summer produce is at its peak, it needs little more than the addition of a few seasonings for the flavors to really shine. Here, cucumbers, summer squash and tomatoes are blended into three simple soups accented with herbs and enriched with avocados and nuts.
Chilled soups are not only the ideal starter for a summer dinner party, but they’re also perfect for sipping as a healthy snack on hot days, offering a savory change of pace to the usual fruit smoothies. These chilled soups are best made ahead so they can thoroughly chill in the fridge. They will keep well for up to up to 4 days.
Many of us are guilty, at least on occasion, of scarfing down food and swallowing large mouthfuls. Beyond that, who hasn’t heard some variation of the chew-your-food-X-number-of-times counsel? Such advice may sound like dietary superstition, but how well a person chomps actually matters. Chewing rate can have a significant impact on digestion of nutrients and may also affect hunger levels.
The Tooth of the Matter
In recent years, several studies have determined that chewing food thoroughly makes more nutrients available for absorption. Extra chewing allows compound within the food an additional opportunity to combine before they make it further down the digestive tract, which may have a positive influence on health. According to some studies, taking more time to chew also promotes a slower rate of eating, which can help with better appetite control and (in the long run) improved weight management.
The Spork Set Surprises
Sure, most kids roll their eyes when they hear the phrase “healthy lunch.” (Certain grown-ups, too.) But a funny thing happened on the way to upgrading the nation’s cafeteria meals. Although elementary school students complained when they first tried lunches that met new government standards in 2012, by the end of the school year most actually liked them, according to a just-out survey from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The data, which polled administrators at over 500 primary schools, found that 70 percent agreed strongly that kids liked their new meals (richer in whole grains and produce, and containing less fat). The picture gets even brighter, too. Another study, recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that children’s intake of fruits and vegetables had gone up since the guidelines were implemented. That said, participation in school lunch programs has dropped 3.7 percent since 2010, a slip that some officials worry has to do with these new standards.
One sure way to avoid the highly processed add-ins found in many protein bars is to turn out a batch using your own ingredients and a boost of protein powder. A word on that front: You’ll want a protein powder low in added and artificial sweeteners. Whey, which is dairy-based, is one good option, but there are multiple types of powders on the market (some decent, some less than — so it’s wise to take a close look at ingredients).
Banana Chocolate-Chip Protein Bars
Makes 12 bars
The yogurt section in the dairy aisle has been expanding rapidly, with more spins on the creamy delight than you can shake a spoon at. The next time you’re adding yogurt to your shopping cart, here are some things to keep in mind as you scan the label.
All yogurts contain sugar. Yogurt is made from milk, which contains lactose, a natural sugar found in milk. It’s the added sugar — what the yogurt manufacturer brings to the mix — that buyers need to watch out for. Fruit-flavored yogurt and honey-flavored yogurt have more sugar than plain because of added sugars. If you read the ingredient list, you will see words like fructose and evaporated cane sugar, both of which are simply different names for sugar. A good rule of thumb: If a yogurt contains more than 20 grams of sugar per serving, it’s more of a dessert than a healthful snack.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration released details of the proposed nutrition label makeover. Many experts have been weighing in on the new look, trying to determine if the changes will help consumers make better-informed decisions or simply add to widespread confusion about nutrition. Last week, The New England Journal of Medicine published two commentaries from health experts.
Added Sugars, Packaging Buzzwords
The first perspective was written by David A. Kessler, MD, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, author of The End of Overeating and a former FDA commissioner. Kessler believes that the FDA’s proposed changes could help nudge food buyers toward healthier decisions but argues that the new label does not go far enough.
In an effort to reduce sugar and sweeteners in general, I recently decided to divert my craving for granola by making toasted muesli. (It’s true that granola can be made by baking the oats in just oil, but I find the mix looks a little lackluster without the shine of maple syrup.) Since plain old muesli was not going to suffice, I decided on toasting it. Getting a rich golden color on the oats is the key to yielding a granola-like result without oil, sugar, maple syrup or honey.
The toasted oats and seeds taste delicious with large shards of fragrant coconut and buttery macadamias. Adding fresh sliced figs and berries adds juice and a subtle sweet flavor to the mix. The muesli stores well (up to three weeks) and will see you through many mornings.