All Posts By Dana Angelo White

New Rules for School Lunch

by in Food News, March 1, 2012
school lunch The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is in favor of the recently-announced school lunch guidelines.

What do the lunch lady and First Lady have in common? They’re both making school lunches healthier. Find out why the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (and registered dietitians everywhere) are in favor of new changes in the school cafeteria.

What’s new?
Less than a month ago, Michelle Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced new guidelines for school lunches across the country. Changes to school lunch offerings have been a long time coming. In recent years, nutrition professionals have been making positive strides to improve lunch options, but it’s been hard to make changes stick.  These new initiatives shine a light on the importance of making healthy meals that kids actually want to eat.

Kids can now look forward to properly portioned plates featuring more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Trans fats will take a hike and the high amounts of sodium packed into meals will be reduced.

A popular debate over chocolate milk has also been settled. According to the new guidelines, cafeterias will now serve low-fat plain and nonfat chocolate milk to help balance out the extra sugary calories in the chocolate version.

Since school may be the only consistent source of food for low-income families, some institutions are moving to providing 3 meals a day to students in need. In December 2010, President Obama signed a bill to help make this possible.

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Good Calories, Bad Calories?

by in Healthy Tips, February 27, 2012
milk
Are the calories in milk the same as the calories in soda?

What’s more important, what you eat or how much you eat? Dietitians are often asked this question: Are all calories created equal?

Good?
Yes, calories are calories whether they come from carrots or cookies but that’s not the end of the story. Foods are diverse and offer more than just calories so to truly evaluate the quality of calories, consider their nutrient density.

“Good” calories are nutrient-dense, which means you get the most bang for your calorie buck. For example, compare 100 calories of soda to 100 calories of milk. Calories from soda provide sugar and that’s just about all. That same number of calories from milk provide protein, calcium and vitamins A and D – therefore, the milk is a more nutrient-dense food.

But even the most nutrient-dense foods can get us into trouble. Peanut butter, olive oil and avocados are high in heart-healthy fats but the calories can stack up quickly – here’s where portion control is key.

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What To Order: The 5 Healthiest Restaurant Pasta Dinners

by in Dining Out, February 24, 2012
restaurant menu
Need help finding a healthy pasta dish?

Pasta is a popular choice for diners, but unfortunately sensible restaurant pasta dishes are hard to come by. We scanned popular restaurant menus to find some reasonable choices.

Pasta Problem
Most restaurants offer enormous mounds of pasta weighed down with high-fat sauces. We were able to spot a couple of smarter options; a few even came with lean protein and whole grains. Sodium will always be an issue when dining out. While these dishes were in no way “low sodium,” they were among the lowest in salt.

Olive Garden’s Linguine alla Marinara
Nutrition Info: 430 calories; 6 grams fat (1 saturated); 900 milligrams sodium

Simple is best at this popular pasta joint; enjoy with a salad and you’ve got yourself a meal.

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5 Rules That Speed Weight Loss

by in Diets & Weight Loss, February 23, 2012
weight loss
Kick your weight loss efforts into high gear with these 5 easy rules.

Trying to shed a few pounds (and keep them off)? Do it the right way – these tips can help.

Rule #1: Eat!
Taking in fewer calories will promote weight loss, but cutting back too much can bring your metabolism to a screeching halt. Slow and steady is best: reduce your current intake by about 500 calories per day to lose one a pound per week.

Rule #2: Move
Regular physical activity keeps your metabolism working at a higher rate. Increasing your lean body mass also means you’ll burn calories more efficiently. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

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Market Watch: Winter Produce

by in Farmers' Market Finds, February 21, 2012
winter produce
Winter CSA shares can provide fresh, local produce, even in the dead of winter.

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on local produce. Eating locally year round is easier if you live in California or Florida but here’s how I do it in Connecticut.

Farmers Markets Finds
Farmers are extra good at holding on to their harvests. If you didn’t turn your own summer bounty into a winter-friendly form, stop by a local farm or winter market to find baked goods, pickles, honey, jams and relish.

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Have You Tried: Saffron?

by in Have You Tried, February 18, 2012
saffron
Have you tried saffron? A little pinch goes a long way.

It’s hard to believe that a tiny part of a flower can also be a highly prized spice. Have you ever tasted the most expensive spice in the world?

What Is Saffron?
The delicate threads of saffron are actually the stigma of the purple crocus. Each flower gives only three strands that must be hand-picked. An acre of crocus flowers will yield 5 to 7 pounds of saffron, which is why the price tag for one ounce (approximately 13,000 threads) can easily approach $500.00! You may be able to find ground powdered saffron for less money but it’s not nearly as flavorful and loses its “umph” quickly.

Thankfully a little goes a long way. Trying to figure on how much to buy? The spice gurus at Penzey’s give these helpful conversions: 1 gram = 2 teaspoons whole, 1 teaspoon crumbled or ½ teaspoon powdered.

Once you bring some home, store in a cool, dark place for up to six months.

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Frozen Diet Meals: Good or Bad?

by in Grocery Shopping, February 16, 2012
frozen diet meals
Are frozen diet meals as healthy as they sound?

While the allure of healthy prepared meals fresh out of a box may be tempting, are these frozen diet foods actually good for you?

Pros
Frozen diet meals like Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers and Healthy Choice offer a wide range of options – you can find everything from breakfast sandwiches to pizza to Chinese noodle dishes. Those in favor of these packaged meals are all about the ease of use.

Top 5 Pros
•    Portion controlled
•    Ready in minutes
•    A wide variety to choose from
•    Easy to transport and store at work
•    No cooking skills required

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Nuts About Pistachios

by in Healthy Recipes, February 8, 2012
pistachios
Pistachios are wonderful on their own, but they make a great appetizer when drizzled with honey and served with apples and cheese.

No other nut boasts an emerald hue like the pistachio does. Find out what you’re getting when you crack open a pistachio.

Pistachio Basics
Commonly grown in Turkey and Iran, 98 perecent of the American crop of pistachios is grown in California. You can spot these distinctive nuts by their tan outer shell and the small green nut peaking out (the shell splits open when the nuts are ripe). Pistachios are available shelled or unshelled, salted or unsalted. Some research suggests that shelled nuts are a better choice for portion control– having to pop open the shell slows you down when munching.

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Make Your Own Hostess Cupcakes

by in Cookies & Other Desserts, February 7, 2012
hostess cupcakes
Skip the packaged cupcakes in the supermarket and make your own instead.

We had so much fun making homemade Girl Scout Cookies, we just had to try and recreate another childhood classic.

Why Make your own?
Using real ingredients like butter, sugar and chocolate in this recipe means our version won’t be low in calories. BUT, what you will be getting is a super fun and delicious cupcake made without preservatives, fillers, thickeners and hydrogenated oils found in the store-bought version.

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Spice of Month: Peppercorns

by in Healthy Recipes, February 7, 2012
peppercorn
Our February spice of the month: Peppercorns.

This under-appreciated spice is anything but ordinary. Grab your pepper mills – we’re serving up fresh facts and 10 recipes that make pepper the star.

Peppercorn Basics
A prized commodity dating back to ancient Egypt, pepper is more than just a black powder to mindlessly sprinkle. Grown from the Piper nigrum (a.k.a. pepper plant), peppercorns are available in a rainbow of colors.

The most common variety, black peppercorns, are slightly immature berries that have been dried. Malabar and Indian Tellicherry are two popular varieties, bursting with aromatic warmth.

White peppercorns are fully mature berries whose skins have been removed. They have less heat than the black variety and are ground into a white powder typically used to avoid black specks in food.

Green peppercorns are unripened berries, most commonly found preserved in brine and used to liven up sauces with a punch of salty vinegar and spice.

Some peppercorn blends will also feature pink peppercorns. While these pricey berries look and taste similar, they aren’t true peppercorns. Grown from a special variety of rose plant native to Madagascar and imported from France, pink peppercorns are spicy with a hint of extra sweetness.

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