Myth or Fact? Cooking with Aluminum Foil is Dangerous

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, February 26, 2017

Lining sheet pans, packets for the grill, and storage in the fridge are just a few of the uses that aluminum foil can have in your kitchen. But can cooking with foil can have dangerous consequences?

Myth or Fact?
Over the years, rumors have swirled about high levels of aluminum leading to health risks including Alzheimer’s and kidney disease. The truth is aluminum is all around us (even in the water supply), and regular contact does not appear to cause problems. Thankfully, the body has numerous mechanisms in place to help rid the body of excess amounts of this metal. That said, consumption of toxic levels over time could eventually be dangerous to bone, brain, muscle and other tissues.

In the Kitchen
Is there a concern for the home cook? It may depend on how you use foil in your kitchen. There’s not enough research to date to say use of foil will pose immediate harm. Studies that do exist reveal that wrapping cold or cooled foods in foil for storage did not lead to leeching of any aluminum. However, a study published in 2012 did find that cooking with aluminum at high temps and the use of acidic foods, salt, and spices did perpetuate a greater amount of leeching. Read more

8 Healthy Meal Hacks to Steal From Dietitians

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Tips, February 24, 2017


I love a nutritious meal, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m all about the shortcuts that make healthy cooking easy and fast! I was curious about what hacks my dietitian colleagues use in the kitchen, so I asked them for their best:

 

Heat hacks

  • Turn your rice cooker into a workhorse. “Like steel-cut oatmeal, but don’t like waiting 40 minutes?” asks Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, author of The MIND Diet. “Add oats and water according to package directions, and use the porridge setting on your rice cooker. Do it at night, and you’ll have perfect steel-cut oats in the morning. Rice cookers can also steam vegetables, cook fish in 15 minutes, or even slow-cook chicken or pork—just add broth and aromatics.”
  • Cook extra portions. “Make extra servings of food that you can repurpose,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It. 
    “Tonight’s grilled salmon for dinner can become tomorrow’s salmon over salad for lunch. Or just mash the salmon along with chopped veggies, egg, spices, and breadcrumbs. Then shape into salmon patties, and you’ll have a great dish for Sunday brunch!”

Read more

Have You Tried Pinole?

by in Have You Tried, February 23, 2017

Have you heard of pinole (pih-nole)? It may soon be giving quinoa a run for its money.  While this trendy superfood may be new to America, it has been around for centuries. Pinole is a grain mixture, made predominantly of heirloom blue and purple maize that’s roasted with raw cacao beans, then ground into a fine mixture. Served a multitude of ways, it’s most commonly combined with milk to form a thick, warm porridge. Similar in texture to oatmeal or grits, it’s a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.  Just two ounces of pinole provides 7 grams of fiber, 40 grams of complex carbohydrates, and 100 milligrams of anthocyanins; a specific antioxidant that may help reduce rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer and boost cognitive function.

In addition to being a great breakfast choice, pinole has historically been used as a source of fuel for endurance athletes. The Tarahumara Indians of northwestern Mexico, known for long-distance running, consume pinole as their daily staple. These native people, whose lives are highlighted in the book Born to Run, relied on two things to fuel their hundred mile journeys: chia seeds and pinole. Read more

5 Nordic Foods to Eat Now

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, February 21, 2017

Nordic food is hot. It’s healthy too. A recent study in The Journal of Nutrition found that a Nordic diet — rich in foods like whole grain rye, unsweetened yogurt, wild berries, root vegetables, herbs and fatty fish — can lower levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, and even lead to weight loss. While you may not make it to restauranteur Claus Meyer’s new Great Northern Food Hall in New York, the popular Minneapolis’ Fika Café or Broder Söder at the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation in Portland, OR, you can certainly discover these delicious ways to enjoy the new Nordic diet.

Canned or jarred fish

Pickled herring anyone? While not typical lunch fare, a Swedish smorgasbord would be incomplete without it. In the Nordic Diet study, people ate two to three servings weekly of fish. And eating fish more often is as easy as opening a jar of pickled herring from IKEA stores or most supermarket deli sections. Herring are mild tasting fish that are often pickled in a vinegary onion and black pepper brine, and are addictive on dark rye crackers topped with red onions, fresh dill and a bit of sour cream. And don’t forget canned sardines, which are harvested in the frigid waters of the Norwegian fjords; these trendy tins are packed with immunity boosters. Norwegian salmon is also an appealing choice; add it to potatoes and greens in our hearty-and-healthy Salmon Hash.

Pickled vegetables

The old technique of pickling vegetables is new again. This is evidenced by the whopping $14 price tag found on a jar of pickled seasonal veggies – and by their appearance on restaurant charcuterie platters. Participants in the Nordic diet study ate a lot of cukes and cabbage. Both would be perfect in this quick pickle recipe. Read more

Market Watch: Romanesco

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 19, 2017

Romanesco

With its florescent lime-green hue and funky spire-shaped florets, Romanesco looks a little like broccoli from another planet. In fact, its alien appearance earned it a cameo in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” (In one scene, Rey is shown biting into an apple studded with Romanesco florets, which drew commentary from famed astrophysicist and Star Wars fact-checker, Neil deGrasse Tyson.) In reality, this cruciferous veggie, sometimes referred to as Romanesco broccoli, is more closely related to cauliflower than broccoli. It’s also a bit crunchier with a milder, slightly nutty flavor. Though Romanesco has been on the menu in Italy since the 16th century, it didn’t make its debut in the United States until the late 90s. Until recently, it was found mostly at farmer’s markets. These days, however, you might spot it at your local supermarket during the fall and winter.

 

Romanesco Facts

Like other members of the Brassica family, including kale and cabbage, Romanesco is high in Vitamins C and K, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Romanesco is also particularly high in carotenoids and phytochemicals.

 

When buying Romanesco, choose heads that are bright in color. The stem should be firm, with no signs of wilting. Any attached leaves should be perky and crisp. Pick it up: it should feel dense and heavy for its size. Store it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a week. Read more

Fix Your Diet, Fix Your Sleep

by in Food News, February 18, 2017

You snooze, you win! Turns out eating sleep smart will deliver enough zzz’s to boost your immune system and shrink your stress. “Sleep is one of the first things I ask patients about,” explains Dr. Donielle Wilson, N.D. naturopathic doctor, certified nutrition specialist and author of the upcoming, A Natural Guide to Better Sleep, “because it tells me about their health and how well they’re holding up under stress.”

But a good night’s sleep — generally defined as 7.5 to 9 hours of uninterrupted slumber per night — can be elusive. Sure, caffeine and alcohol are known sleep disrupters, but your daily eating habits could also be sabotaging your shut-eye. Besides perfecting a bedtime routine (see below), here are Wilson’s top 5 ways to fix sleep issues by giving your diet an upgrade:

  • Balance your blood sugar level during the day, which affects your blood sugar balance while you sleep. If you eat large meals, infrequent meals and/or high sugar/carb meals (including bananas), especially near bedtime, you’re likely to wake up from blood sugar fluctuations.
  • Reduce inflammation in your body, which for many people means avoiding gluten and dairy. Inflammation can travel to the nervous system and cause symptoms from anxiety to insomnia.
  • Boost nutrient-dense foods high in sleep-friendly vitamins and minerals, including magnesium (nuts, seeds, fish, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate), B6 (salmon, beef, chicken, turkey, sweet potato, hazelnuts) and melatonin (cherries, pomegranate, cranberries, pineapple, oranges, tomatoes).
  • Ditch your sugar-filled, late-night treat for a non-dairy protein powder–fueled smoothie to break those sweet cravings.
  • Calm your nervous system with herbal teas like chamomile and lavender. Stress triggers a stress response involving stimulating cortisol and adrenaline, which leads to disrupted sleep patterns.

Read more

Make Whole-Grain Swaps to Burn Calories, Boost Metabolism

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, February 17, 2017


A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that people who replaced refined grains with 100-percent whole grains absorbed fewer calories from foods eaten with whole grains and burned more calories. These losses added up to a 100-calorie deficit per day, according to the Tufts University researchers who conducted this 8-week study.

While 100 calories might not sound like a lot, eating 100-percent whole grains consistently could add up to significant savings when spanning weeks, months and years. Losing 700 calories per week by cutting calories with a traditional weight loss plan, for example, could add up to nearly a pound of fat loss per month. A brisk 30-minute walk also burns 100 calories.

Eating intact whole grains like brown rice and steel-cut oats versus those that are ground or milled could potentially offer more calorie-saving benefits, the researchers hypothesized.

If you’re ready to up your whole-grain game, there are a few things to consider.

 

What 100% whole grain is

A whole grain has the germ and outer bran either still intact, as in the case of brown rice, or ground, like in 100-percent whole-wheat flour. The milling process of refined grains, however, removes the outer bran and germ. During this process, fiber, protein, and other important nutrients decrease. Oftentimes food manufacturers add nutrients back in another form, as is the case for white fluffy bread. Read more

Manly Burgers, Feminine Salads: Does Gender Affect Our Diets?

by in Food News, February 16, 2017

We all know the stereotypes: Men like red meat and hefty portions. Women like salads and eat modestly, picking delicately at their meals. Men like it spicy. Women like it sweet.

Fries or fruit on the side? Men, we imagine, may be more likely to choose the former, women the latter. Ditto when choosing between, say, wine or beer.

Whether or not there is intrinsic truth in these cultural preconceptions about gender and food, societal reinforcement of them may influence the decisions we make about what we eat, the Washington Post suggests. What’s more, the paper recently posited, given the body of research indicating that eating plant, rather than animal, proteins, is better for your health and longevity, that may not be great news for men.

One key issue may be the way different foods are marketed to men and women, the messages sent out via advertising and packaging, says Kerri-Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian and nutritionist who writes about food and health trends. Read more

5 Apps That Will Help You Eat Healthy

by in Food News, Healthy Tips, February 15, 2017

There are so many nutrition and fitness apps hitting the market that you just don’t know which to try. I set out to find some apps that may not be on your radar and are worthy of space on your smartphone.

 

HealthyOut

Cost: Free

There are now more options than ever for healthy eating when dining out. This app helps you find the best dishes at both chain and non-chain restaurants. Categories include heart healthy, high protein, lactose free, low calorie, low fat, vegetarian, vegan, and more. It’s a quick and easy way to sift through long menus to find choices that are better for you.

 

Food Intolerances

Cost: $5.99

If you have strict dietary intolerances or allergies, this app may be right for you. Those who have conditions like histamine intolerance, fructose malabsorption, sorbitol intolerance, gluten sensitivity or low FODMAP diet will likely find it a helpful tool. The database of hundreds of foods tells you if the food is allowable with the food sensitivity. A con of the app is that it categorizes all processed foods the same, such as a regular tomato sauce verses one that was created specifically to be low FODMAP-friendly. Read more

5 Pulses That Are Great For You

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, February 14, 2017

As a vegetarian dietitian, I eat a lot of pulses, the group of legumes that includes beans, lentils, dry peas and chickpeas. I top my salads with them, mix them into brownie batter, and bake them into casseroles. And while 2016 was the Year of Pulses, these superfoods continue to grow in popularity. Here are a few of my favorite pulses — which all happen to be great for you — plus some ideas for cooking with them.

 

Chickpeas

A half-cup serving of cooked chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) offer up about 7 grams of protein, or 15 percent of the daily value. They’re an excellent source of fiber and offer 13 percent of the daily value for iron. Use them to make a Chickpea Crust Pizza or a Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew—or bake them into a Spicy Baked Chickpeas dish. Reserve the aquafaba, or chickpea water, and use that to make a vegan meringue.

 

Black Beans

These beans are terrific in a Black Bean and Corn Salad. They’re versatile way beyond Mexican dishes—and make a great protein addition to Black Bean Brownies. A half-cup serving of the cooked beans offers close to 8 grams of fiber, providing 30 percent of the daily value. Black beans are a good source of protein and an excellent source of folate, a nutrient of particular importance during pregnancy.

 

Lentils

There are many types of lentils, including green, French green, red, and black. Lentils are one of the highest-protein beans, boasting almost 9 grams, or 18 percent of the daily value, per half-cup serving of cooked beans, as well as about 8 grams of fiber. They’re also a good source of blood-pressure-helping potassium. Have them in a Lentil Soup, as Cilantro Lentils, or in an Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes dish. Read more

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