A Look Inside Healthy Grain Bowls

by in Cookbooks, January 20, 2017

Grain bowls are trending, and there’s an art to making these one-dish creations. I called on the expertise of Carolynn Carreño, author of Bowl of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole-Grain Meals on how to make bowls that are as beautiful and balanced as they are delicious.

  1. What inspired you to write an entire cookbook on one-dish whole grain meals?

Eating bowls filled with grains and topped with smaller amounts of deliciousness has been my way of keeping myself healthy and feeling good for years. I had some pretty serious, chronic issues with my health, and the way I got better was by restricting a lot of foods from my diet. But there was no way that was going to last forever. Eating and cooking in a non-restrictive, “gourmet” way is a major part of my life. I test recipes for cookbook collaborations. I travel to other countries, such as Italy and Mexico, and I want to experience the foods of those places. I go to food events and I go out to eat about every other night in New York City. Plus, I just love good food.

I didn’t want to deprive myself, so as I started to feel better, I kept myself introducing small portions of what I call “the good stuff”—flavorful proteins and dairy and condiments—onto piles of steamed brown rice (quinoa came later, and then farro and the rest) and Brussels sprouts or broccoli.  I’d put a tiny portion of shredded Mexican pork on a big bowl of brown rice with some black beans and broccoli for good measure. It was a middle ground between healthy and delicious that allowed me to have everything I wanted, without feeling like I got ran over by a truck the next day. When grain bowls went mainstream, I wanted to show the world that there can be so much more to a grain bowl than pink hummus and watermelon radishes. Read more

Order This, Not That: Wendy’s

by in Chefs and Restaurants, January 19, 2017

Out of all the fast food restaurants in the country, Wendy’s was recently rated the top fast food joint in a poll by Ranker. With many folks frequenting this popular restaurant, be prepared with these better-for-you choices.

Burgers

Order: Jr. Cheeseburger

This 100% beef patty is topped with cheese, pickles, onions, and mustard on a bun—just in a much smaller portion then many of Wendy’s other options. The nutrition numbers are pretty reasonable: only sodium is a touch high with 36-percent of the daily recommended amount.

Nutrition info: Calories 280; Fat 13g (Saturated  6g); Sodium  820mg; Carbohydrate 25g; Protein  16g Read more

What to Know About Functional Beverages

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, Trends, January 18, 2017

Ever since the juice bar craze, we’ve come to expect more from what we drink. Here’s a closer look at three popular functional beverage options, and the evidence behind their health claims.

 

Drinking Vinegar

While adding apple cider vinegar to your diet won’t cure cancer or the flu, it may be a secret weapon in keeping blood sugar levels under control. Unlike the more outrageous claims made by proponents of apple cider vinegar, there is enough evidence that consuming it may decrease the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance. The high acetic acid content in vinegar inhibits the enzymes that help you digest carbohydrates, thereby producing a smaller blood sugar response after eating. As an added benefit, this undigested starch becomes food for the good bacteria in your gut, acting as a prebiotic that supports overall digestion and a healthier immune system. While there seems to be a big push in using apple cider vinegar, any vinegar will get the job done. Acetic acid, the carbohydrate-inhibiting ingredient, is present in all vinegars, so feel free to use whatever one you enjoy best. Additionally, you don’t have to drink the vinegar to get the benefits — eating your favorite salad with a vinegar-based dressing will work just as well. Read more

Myth or Fact? Artificially-Colored Foods Are Bad for You

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Is It Healthy?, January 17, 2017

Ever wonder how some of your favorite foods are made? And if they’re supposed to be that color? We’re cracking the code on some infamous colored foods to find out if they naturally occur that way or if they had some help.

Color Me Unhealthy?
Many beloved foods we eat everyday are doctored with colorings to improve visual appeal. In some cases these colorful enhancements are food based and therefore safe, but others have potentially harmful chemical infusions. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, eating these synthetic dyes may pose harm and cause behavioral problems, especially in children.

Highly processed foods like soda, commercial baked goods, candy, frozen treats, salty snacks (think cheese doodles) and kids’ breakfast cereals are some of the worst and most obvious offenders. Potentially dangerous yellow 5, red 40 and red 3 dyes are found in numerous foods, and have been linked to behavioral problems and allergic reactions. Europe has imposed strict bans on the use of these coloring agents, but in the United States progress has been much slower. Some U.S. chains and manufacturers including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Panera, General Mills and Nestle don’t sell products with dyes and/or are beginning to remove them from some of their products. Here are 4 foods that might raise a colorful flag. Read more

Fitness Fundamentals: Building a Better Plank

by in Fitness, January 15, 2017

I’ve never been one to make (and then feel bad about breaking) a bunch of New Year’s resolutions. But I am determined to make 2017 The Year of the Ab. My abs, specifically. Because even though I’m fit—I run several times a week, hike, ski, rock climb and do the occasional yoga class—my middle is still kind of mushy.

If you’re in a similar situation, feel free to join me in a year long plank-a-thon. Rumor has it not only will our abs be rock hard, but our posture will improve and our backs will be stronger too. “Done correctly, a plank is an isometric contraction of all the muscles that stabilize the spine, hips and shoulder girdle,” explains Christa Bache, MA, a personal trainer in New York City. “It is truly a whole body exercise.” The key words there are “done correctly.” The plank is all about form, so here, Bache shares some tips for getting the most out of every plank: Read more

Here’s What Happened When I Took Probiotics For 30 Days

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, January 14, 2017

Probiotic supplements claim to improve digestive and immune health, but how can you know if they really do what they say? I decided to do a 30-day probiotic experiment to test out these claims.

The facts about probiotics

Your gut contains more than 100 trillion live bacteria, known as probiotics. Although bacteria are generally regarded as a bad thing, probiotics are considered “good bacteria” and are essential for a healthy digestive tract and immune system function. The body does a good job of maintaining its own probiotic levels, but certain things like an unhealthy diet, undue stress or a harsh round of antibiotics, can cause imbalances or disturbances in your natural “good bacteria”. That’s where probiotic supplements come into play. In one small capsule, you can reintroduce billions of live cultures with diverse strains to your gut.

My 30-day test

Although I eat a pretty healthy diet and exercise regularly, I decided to take a probiotic for 30 days to see what all the hype was about. Specifically, I paid very close attention to changes in my digestive tract or immune system. Although I had seen the research on the benefits of probiotics, I was pretty skeptical about taking any type of supplement (since they are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)). Yet, I did my homework and found that there was little to no downside to taking a probiotic. Before we dive in, I want to note that my experience is completely anecdotal and may not be the same for everyone.  Read more

3 Easy Ways to Organize Your Kitchen

by in Healthy Tips, January 13, 2017

Those shiny new appliances you received as holiday gifts need spots in your kitchen, so it’s time to organize. Here are three tactics to get you started, without being overwhelmed by the task.

Declutter, then donate

Decluttering can be daunting, especially if your entire household’s stuff ends up in the kitchen. So focus on tossing out extras of the following items; you’ll be energized by the fact that you will have a couple of bags to donate in no time.

  • Matching dishes – Two plates, two bowls, two glasses for each family member. Use disposable when you need extra for a party.
  • Silverware – Again, two spoons, forks, and knives for everyone. They can wash dishes, right?
  • Reusable water bottles – Each family member needs only one. Done.
  • Kitchen utensils – Toss anything cracked. Nasty bacteria builds up in tattered spatulas. If it pains you to part with that cool doohickey from your dear neighbor, think how much joy someone else will have from finding it at the resale shop.
  • Plastic food containers – They should all have lids, and all fit neatly inside each other. Toss the misfits.
  • Pots and pans – You don’t need six sauté pans. Here’s the pots you do need and how to organize them.

Read more

Why Should You Care About the Microbiome?

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, January 11, 2017

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about the term microbiome, which refers to a collection of microorganisms or “good bacteria” that live inside your gut. The microbiome is a relatively new term in the nutrition world, and it’s rapidly becoming an increasingly important field of study among scientists. Millions of dollars are being poured into research to reach a better understanding of the microbiome and its role in disease. Here’s what you should know:

 

About the microbiome

The human body contains 10-100 trillion microbial cells, which consist of about 1000 different strains of bacteria that make up the microbiome. It exists in the skin and mouth, but the largest and most diverse part of the microbiome is found in the gut. Beginning at birth, a human’s microbiome is formed with the microorganisms from the mother’s birth canal and skin. Breast milk is also rich with good bacteria that populate the baby’s gut. By two years old, the adult microbiome is almost fully established, but it can change throughout the lifetime. An individual’s microbiome is not just a random collection of bacteria; each organism works together to create a thriving healthy environment inside the body.

 

Are all microbiomes the same?

Studies suggest that an individual’s microbiome is unique to them. However, your skin microbiome will be similar to other peoples’ skin microbiomes, and your gut microbiome will be similar to others’ gut microbiomes. The Human Microbiome Project, funded by the National Institute for Health, was established in 2008 to characterize the strains in the human microbiome and understand their role in human health and disease. Read more

The Chefs’ Take: Parsnips

by in Chefs and Restaurants, January 10, 2017

A thick, taupe-hued version of the ubiquitous, snack-friendly carrot, the parsnip is an unsung root vegetable seldom eaten raw. Then winter arrives, and its nutty profile deservedly gets the spotlight in a barrage of hearty soups and braises. But, there are other clever ways to celebrate the parsnip’s complexity this season.

Five nights a week, chef/owner Nicolas Delaroque of Nico in San Francisco serves a five-course tasting menu. Inevitably, parsnips make a cameo this time of the year. “I enjoy their versatility. We can use them in so many types of cooking,” he explains. That’s why he embraces the vegetable’s floral notes and incorporates them into a dessert. One splurge-worthy scoop of brown butter ice cream is dressed with fried parsnip chips and wood sorrel. “Parsnips have a sweet disposition, and with the cozy, warm feel of maple and bourbon, it just makes sense on a cold day.” Read more

Why Exercise Doesn’t Always Lead to Weight Loss

by in Fitness, January 8, 2017

Exercise more and lose weight: So many of us resolve to do both those things in the new year. Every year. But do they actually go hand in hand? And why does it sometimes feel like we actually gain weight when we increase the amount of exercise we get, and lose weight when we moon around the house like a lump? (I know, it’s cold outside, but still…).

That question was recently put to the Well bloggers at the New York Times, who confirmed that studies show that our hunch is correct: We don’t always lose – and sometimes gain – weight when we exercise more. That’s mostly because exercise makes us hungrier and so we eat more – off-setting the calories we’ve burned.

What’s a health-minded person to do? We asked nutrition coach, consultant and yoga teacher Alexandra Caspero MA, RD, CLT, RYT of Delish Knowledge, and the author of the book Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation, for her perspective. She works to help clients find their “happy weight.” Here’s what she had to say:

Why do we sometimes gain weight when we start exercising? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? And does that mean we should not exercise if we want to lose weight?

Weight loss is just one of the many benefits to exercise, so I still encourage movement, even if weight gain is a side effect. It’s beneficial for cardiovascular, mental and skeletal health, among other things. And, this isn’t true across the board. The more important thing to focus on is that exercise alone doesn’t equal weight loss; the diet still counts. I break it down to 80/20: Exercise is 20 percent of the equation; diet is 80 percent. Spending 30 minutes on the treadmill likely burns 300-400 calories for the average person, which can easily be negated by an extra serving of pasta. Additionally, exercise may increase appetite and many of my clients think exercising gives them a reason to “eat more,” which isn’t always the case. Read more

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