Healthy Rosh Hashana Menu Planner

by in Healthy Holidays, September 25, 2016

The Jewish New Year is a two-day celebration where it’s customary to dip apples in honey to symbolize a sweet new year. The evening feast includes delicious foods such as pomegranate to represent fruitfulness and a round challah to signify the cycle of the year. Here are several dishes you can make for a healthy, delicious holiday.

Planning Your Menu
With back-to-school in full swing and work commitments, it’s a busy time to prepare a holiday menu. Proper planning, however, can help you have a delicious holiday meal. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

• Select one or two healthy recipes and start preparing a few days in advance so you don’t get stuck in the kitchen pulling an all-nighter.
• Make a grocery list according to the flow of the market, which will help you save time when food shopping.
• If soup is on the menu, prepare it a few days in advance. If you prepare it a week or more in advance, store it in the freezer.
• Prep vegetables the night before. If you can recruit a few helpers to assist with the prep, that’s even better!
• If you still feel overwhelmed, ask each family attending to bring a dish. To ensure they bring a healthy dish, send them a preselected recipe (like one from the list below!). Read more

Think Following the “5-Second Rule” Keeps Food Safe? Think Again!

by in Food Safety, September 24, 2016

When food falls on the floor, it’s always a judgment call as to whether that food goes into your mouth or into the trash. And many of us, when making that call, defer to the so-called “five-second rule” — that long-standing and widely accepted notion that if food spends five seconds or less on the floor it hasn’t had enough time to be contaminated by whatever bacteria is on the floor. But is the five-second rule based on any actual facts, or is it just a myth that we perpetuate every time we let our kids pick up and keep sucking on that lollipop they dropped?

Turns out, scientific research on the topic has been pretty limited … until now, that is. A team of researchers at Rutgers University’s School of Environmental and Biological Sciences put a variety of foods — watermelon, bread, bread with butter, and gummy candy — through their paces. They dropped them onto four different surfaces — carpet, stainless steel, ceramic tile and wood — and left them for less than one second, five seconds, 30 seconds and 300 seconds. All of the 128 possible scenarios were repeated 20 times; in the end, the researchers had a total of 2,560 data points to analyze. Read more

Nutrition News: Sparkling Water Safety, Parsing Probiotics, Eating and Reading

by in Food News, September 23, 2016

Eating and reading
You want your kids to eat healthy for all sorts of reasons. Here’s a new one: It may make them better readers. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyvaskyla found that students’ reading skills showed greater improvement between first and third grade if they ate a diet composed primarily of vegetables and fruits (especially berries), along with fish, whole grains and unsaturated fats, and ate very few sugary treats and red meats, HealthDay News reports. “The associations of diet quality with reading skills were … independent of many confounding factors, such as socioeconomic status, physical activity, body adiposity [fat] and physical fitness,” study author Eero Haapala said in a study news release. But don’t worry too much if your kid is a picky eater — the study showed only a correlation, not cause and effect.

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6 Lighter Ways to Cook and Bake with Apples

by in Healthy Recipes, September 22, 2016

Ready your wicker baskets: It’s apple-picking season. If you’re planning a trip to your local orchard, you’re probably already dreaming about the wonderfully sweet, tart and spicy dishes you can make once you get your apples home. Maybe they’re destined for a rustic galette — or maybe you’ll bake them whole with a medley of warming spices. Of course, the butter and brown sugar used in many apple dishes are just as craveable as the fruit itself. But even if you’re using the new season as an opportunity to get back into good eating habits, you don’t have to miss out on this fun autumn pastime. With a few simple modifications, you can make your favorite apple dishes a healthy staple rather than a once-in-a-while indulgence. From firm and tart Granny Smiths to sweet and tender McIntoshes, here are six lighter ways to use your freshly picked apples this fall.

Baked Apples with Oatmeal and Yogurt
When it comes to baking apples whole, Bobby Flay opts for sweet Galas, which he dresses up with fragrant spices and light brown sugar. Top each one with high-fiber oatmeal, low-fat Greek yogurt and a drizzle of apple cider reduction.

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Have You Tried: Coffee Flour?

by in Food News, Trends, September 21, 2016

The hottest new trend in coffee couldn’t be farther from a cup of joe. It’s overflowing with nutrients, is gluten-free and helps to reduce food waste. Should you get your hands on some coffee flour?

What Is Coffee Flour?
Coffee flour is derived from the byproducts of coffee production. Coffee beans are encased within a small fruit. Once the beans are removed, the remaining fruit is typically discarded as waste. But now, this fruit pulp is getting salvaged, dried and ground into flour. Recommended uses include baking as well as incorporation into soups, sauces and beverages.

Coffee flour does not possess a strong coffee flavor but does have similarly deep and earthy characteristics. There is a floral undertone that resembles tea more than coffee. It also has a little bit of caffeine; according to Marx Pantry, each tablespoon of coffee flour contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as a third a cup of black coffee (they sell coffee flour for $9/pound).

Healthy Attributes
A small amount of coffee flour contains a huge amount of nutrients. One tablespoon holds almost 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of potassium and nearly 13 percent of daily iron. This plant-based flour is also gluten-free and an excellent source of fiber. Similar to coffee, coffee flour is also rich in cell-protecting antioxidants. Read more

Everything’s Coming Up Algae

by in Food News, Trends, September 20, 2016

Certain kinds of algae are already commonplace in our diets. For example, your sushi rolls and musubi are wrapped in seaweed (a marine algae), the food additive carrageenan is derived from seaweed, and algae-derived Omega-3s are used in supplements for those who shun fish oil. But this humble sea plant suddenly seems poised for its superfood moment. “Algae is earth’s original superfood,” says Mark Brooks, senior vice president of food ingredients at TerraVia, makers of Thrive algae oil. “Before kale, chia, acai and quinoa, there was algae.”

There are plenty of good reasons to eat more algae, in terms of both nutrition and sustainability. On the sustainability front, algae, which can grow up to 30 times faster than corn, doesn’t require a lot of space to produce. “Algae doesn’t require fertile soil, fossil fuels, inorganic fertilizers or pesticides in order to grow,” says Mark R. Edwards, an agribusiness professor emeritus at Arizona State University. “Algae can deliver superior nutrition without pollution or waste.” Read more

10 Healthy Game-Day Snacks

by in Healthy Recipes, September 18, 2016

If you’re a sports fan, you are revving up for the fall season. This year, instead of busting a gut at your next hours-long game-day extravaganza, prepare some of these 10 healthy, mouthwatering snacks.

Chili Chips

Make a batch of Ellie Krieger’s Chili Chips and dip them in a tasty, homemade guac or mango salsa (pictured above).

Prosciutto-Wrapped Crudite

Add a little zing to your vegetables by wrapping them in thin slices of prosciutto.

Smoky Kale Chips

At 60 calories per two cups of chips, you can eat away without the guilt.

Pizza Pockets

For a more filling snack, wrap turkey sausage, arugula and cheese in store-bought pizza dough. To up your intake of whole grains, use whole-wheat dough.

Ham, Swiss and Apple Wraps

Half a wrap is a perfect snack made up of three food groups. Read more

Nutrition News: Exercise and Brain Hunger, Vitamin D and Asthma, and Mediterranean Diet Tips

by in Food News, September 16, 2016

Brain hunger

You know how, sometimes, after you’ve completed a big, stressful, mentally taxing assignment — a college term paper, say, or a complex work project — you suddenly feel ravenous? That may be because your brain, depleted of energy after working hard, signals you to eat more calories in order to fuel further efforts (thus explaining the much-feared Freshman 15). However, exercise may subvert this mental-stress-induced craving for calories, a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, noted in The New York Times, indicates, because it increases the amount of blood sugar and lactate in the blood and increases blood flow to the head. Worth a try.

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How to Transform Summer Tomatoes into Comforting Fall Soups

by in Healthy Recipes, September 15, 2016

The humidity has finally lifted and there’s a brisk chill in the air, but that’s not the only good news we’re celebrating: Late-summer produce like tomatoes, zucchini and corn is still abundant at the farmers markets. From a culinary standpoint, this is what makes September so precious. For the next few weeks, we’ll be able to meld the light and delicate flavors of summer with the comforting style of autumnal cooking, which we generally see reserved for hearty root vegetables. And what better application for all of our perfectly ripened tomatoes than warm, freshly blended tomato soup? Whether you’re serving it as a smooth transition between the hors d’oeuvres and the entree at an elegant dinner party or spooning it from a thermos after your first hike of the season, tomato soup is the most-logical solution to our current tomato surplus. So put gazpacho on the back burner (not literally), and reacquaint yourself with fall cooking via these versatile tomato soup recipes.

The Classic
Now that it’s finally cool enough to turn on your oven, get back into the rhythm of roasting with Melissa d’Arabian’s Rich Roasted Tomato Soup. The recipe calls for little more than Roma tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and the rustic tastes of sauteed garlic and herbes de Provence are an excellent match for the tangy, caramelized Romas.

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5-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

by in 5-Ingredient Recipes, September 14, 2016

For the past decade, I’ve been getting by with a $25 smallish slow cooker that I purchased from the grocery store. Recently I relocated, leaving my kitchen gadgets — including said slow cooker — behind, “forcing” me to buy a new one. Now I am thrilled to be sporting a slow cooker fit with a cook setting that automatically switches to warming mode after the cooking time has elapsed. Game changer. That was $49 well spent.

With fall comes peak sweet potato season. This dish highlights the savory side of this root vegetable, brimming with loads of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, plus potassium and vitamin C. I opt for orange-fleshed taters because, to me, the presentation of a white sweet potato just doesn’t have the same panache.

I prefer to use chicken thighs with the bone in (skin removed, of course) in slow-cooked dishes because the result is juicy, tender pieces of meat. The natural gelatin from within the bones lends itself to a simplified bone broth — so good you’ll be sipping it from a spoon.

Toss these simple ingredients into the slow cooker and be on your way. Just a few hours later, return to your kitchen filled with a warm, mouthwatering aroma. Read more

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