Should You Sneak Veggies Into Your Kids’ Food?

by in Cooking for Kids, December 6, 2016

Every parent knows the pain of dealing with a picky eater — and the fear that the child will suffer malnutrition from a constant diet of pizza, grilled cheese and noodles. Hence, there’s a great temptation to take the stealth approach to your child’s health by slipping undetectable amounts of produce into those same favorite foods.

Employing this tactic is easier than ever now, thanks to companies like Oh Yes Foods, which markets frozen pizzas whose crusts are loaded with pulverized produce, and Kidfresh, whose frozen entrees of mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and cheese quesadillas hide ample amounts of veggies like carrots, spinach and cauliflower. Considering that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine out of 10 Americans kids fall short of the recommended intake of vegetables, this all seems like a brilliant idea. Yet some experts caution against relying on this technique. “Yes, it’s a good thing nutritionally,” admits Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., a psychologist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center. “But if children are only exposed to vegetables in ways that mask their smell, texture and flavor, they may not learn to eat them.” Read more

Trend Alert: Foods with Moringa

by in Food News, Trends, December 4, 2016

Commonly seen as a supplement, moringa (botanical name: moringa oleifera) is now being added to foods. Find out where you can find these foods, and whether they’re worth the money.

About Moringa

Moringa is a plant native to the sub-Himalayan areas of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The plant can withstand both terrible drought and also mild frost, which means it can grow in a wide variety of areas throughout the world. You could consider it a “super plant” because it can withstand such harsh weather conditions.

The Nutrition

The entire plant, including the leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds and root, contains a plethora of nutrients, which is why moringa has become such a popular supplement.  The leaves, which can be eaten fresh or dried, contain minerals like calcium, zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron and copper. The plant also contains vitamin A, numerous B vitamins, and vitamins C, D and E, along with protein and healthy fat. The plant also provides numerous plant chemicals that help fight and prevent disease, such as flavonoids and saponins.

Although advocates claim that moringa can help conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, a 2012 review paper published in Frontiers in Pharmacology determined that there isn’t enough scientific research and data to show how much moringa is safe to take and what the side effects of consuming it are. Read more

The New World of Lean Meats

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, December 3, 2016

If you’re trying to eat healthy and select lean proteins, facing the meat case may be overwhelming. You can now find more cuts of meat and poultry than ever before, and knowing how to cook them can get confusing. Here’s a low-down on how to make sense of the meat and poultry case.

Defining “Lean”
The 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans recommended choosing lean protein. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration food labeling criteria, to be labeled as “lean,” the cut of meat must be less than 10 percent fat by weight, or it must contain less than 10 grams of fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol and a maximum of 4.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams. “Extra lean” contains less than 5 grams of total fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 grams.

All of the following proteins are “complete,” meaning they provide all nine essential amino acids that your body needs. However, portion control is of upmost importance. Aim for 3- to 4-ounce portions and serve with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low or nonfat dairy for a well-balanced and varied diet. Read more

DIY Holiday Gifts

by in Healthy Holidays, December 2, 2016

Give a gift that’s thoughtful, creative and affordable. Whether you’re presenting them to relatives or toting them along as hostess gifts, these homemade treats are sure to please.

Flavored Honey
Pack a beautiful jar of this natural sweetener along with some loose-leaf tea or a loaf of freshly baked bread.

Curried Lentil Soup Jar
Tuck all the necessary ingredients for a warming soup into a pretty jar and jot down the cooking instructions on a note card. Or, try a sweeter take on the jar motif with Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies.

Chocolate Truffles
Customize these perfectly portioned chocolate treats with whatever flavorings your loved ones adore. Popular suggestions include chopped nuts, crushed candy or a dusting of quality unsweetened cocoa powder. Read more

7 Lighter Ways to Kick Off Your Holiday Meal

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Recipes, December 1, 2016

As much as we love baked Brie wrapped in phyllo dough, the best-executed holiday cocktail hours consist of light, refreshing bites that anticipate the meal ahead — without spoiling it completely. If there’s a creamy, bubbling-hot dip on the table, it should come as no surprise when your meticulously arranged crudite platter goes untouched and, worst of all, your guests are too stuffed to enjoy the main event. Small bites that are not only light but also quick and easy to make are best for everyone in attendance — especially the host — so choose recipes that require no more than 20 minutes of prep work (the less time, the better). Here are five finger foods you can count on to hit the mark at your upcoming soiree.

Vegetarian Spinach-Walnut Pate (pictured at top)
This creamy, spinach-packed appetizer spreads like pate, and the tart bursts of pomegranate seeds remind us of caviar. Set it out with an array of fresh vegetables and crackers, for dipping.

Read more

Host a Healthy Holiday Open House

by in Healthy Holidays, November 30, 2016

The holiday season has become so hectic and overscheduled that finding a night to throw a dinner party or cocktail soiree has become nearly impossible. One solution is hosting a laid-back holiday open house, which allows guests to come and go as they please after crossing some holiday shopping off their lists. These shindigs run for about four hours during a weekend afternoon, and the flexibility can help minimize holiday stress for the host and guests alike. Plus, typical open-house fare is cocktails and light bites, which means you won’t bust a pant button on your way out. Use these tips and recipes to help you host a tasty and healthy open house this holiday season. Cheers!

Keeping Things Light

Delicious and healthy can go hand in hand if you follow these tips.

Minimize fried goodies: There are many finger foods and apps to choose that don’t need to be fried.

Add color: Select recipes with seasonal fruits and veggies for gorgeous eye appeal. Fruits and veggies also tend to be light in calories.

Go for lean protein: Choose lean cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and turkey to help keep foods healthier, or opt for fish like salmon or tuna (to boost Omega-3s) and shellfish like shrimp and crab.

Offer small plates: Eating off smaller-sized plates means less food (or at least more trips to the buffet table to get the same amount of food). Instead of 9-inch dinner plates, offer smaller sized dishes.

Use a jigger: To keep calories from alcohol under control and prevent guests from getting overserved, use a jigger to measure alcohol instead of “eyeballing it” when making cocktails.

Offer low- and no-calorie beverages: Serve unsweetened iced tea, hot tea and coffee, and sparkling water with a twist of fruit as low-cal options. Read more

Tips for Exercising in Cold Weather

by in Fitness, November 28, 2016

Just because the temperature dips doesn’t mean your exercise routine needs to take a dive. Keep these four rules in mind to exercise safely all winter long.

Rule #1: Warm Up

Pun intended! Get blood flowing to muscles, and increase your heart rate before heading out into the cold. The increased circulation will help prime muscles for activity and may help reduce the risk of injury.

Rule #2: Keep On Hydrating

This may be more obvious during warmer months, but you still need to drink plenty of fluids when exercising in the cold; you’re still sweating, and you need to replenish fluids lost. Both warm and cold fluids will help contribute to hydration, so reach for whichever you prefer. A little caffeine will help boost performance, but too much can have a negative effect on digestion, so keep your intake conservative. Read more

Can’t Take More Steps Each Day? Then Take Faster Ones

by in Fitness, November 27, 2016

An entire industry of fitness-tracking devices has sprung up to support the expert-recommended goal of taking 10,000 steps daily. And while that’s a great amount to shoot for, a new study has shown that if you can’t get in quite that many steps a day, there are other ways to reap the same health benefits. The study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, shows that if you (like the average American) can get in only 5,000 to 7,000 steps daily, the trick is to pick up the pace for about half of them.

Walking at a brisk pace (which the researchers defined as 100 or more steps per minute) should be your goal for at least 30 minutes a day, in order to reduce a variety of cardiometabolic risk factors. The other key finding was that no matter how many steps you get in daily, it pays to try to reduce the amount of time you spend not moving at all.

Need help achieving those goals? Here are some tips from Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian and certified strength and conditioning specialist, to get you moving. Read more

Kitchen Trend: Instant Pot

by in Product Reviews, November 26, 2016

Your grandma’s pressure cooker is getting a reboot. The Instant Pot has helped make the electric pressure cooker trendy, but in a safer and more user-friendly way. Find out all there is to know about this old-school cooking tool.

Pressure Cooking 101

A pressure cooker is essentially a chamber of steam that quickly heats to a high temperature, rapidly cooking food within a moist environment. While there is a bit of a learning curve when using a pressure cooker, it is fairly simple to operate. Newer models have sophisticated dials and built-in safety mechanisms to help avoid the feared explosion of piping-hot food all over the kitchen.

Cooking via this speedy method offers not only culinary convenience but also better nutrition, because the high heat and fast cooking allow food to retain nutrients. Pressure cookers also do their part for the environment, offering up to a 70 percent energy saving compared with slower cooking techniques.

 The Instant Pot

At the forefront of the pressure cooker revolution is the Instant Pot. Created by a Canadian company, this updated version of the classic machine offers an all-in-one system that allows for pressure cooking, as well as slow cooking, rice cooking, sauteing, steaming and yogurt making.  Read more

Are You Eating the Right Omegas? Most Americans Aren’t 

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, November 25, 2016

We hear a lot about the importance of getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids in our diets — and with good reason. They’re heart-healthy fats that help decrease inflammation, plus they’re important for brain development and function. The other Omega fatty acids — the Omega-6 oils — are also considered “essential fatty acids” that are needed for several body processes. But some of them can also cause inflammation when eaten in excess. So while we do need adequate amounts of both in our diets, most of us are getting way too much Omega-6 and way too little Omega-3.

“In the standard American diet, people are getting about a 20-to-one ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3,” says Chris D’Adamo, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and public health, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Ideally, that ratio should be more like three-to-one.” The trouble is that Omega-6 fatty acids have become ubiquitous in our food supply in a way that they were not several decades ago. They are found in vegetable oils — like corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean — that are a staple ingredient in so many refined, processed and packaged foods. And when modern agricultural methods meant a shift from livestock that grazed on Omega-3-rich grasses to livestock that was fed Omega-6-packed grains, the balance in our diets shifted even more. Read more

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