All Posts By Sally Wadyka

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

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

Are You Vegan Curious?

by in Cookbooks, September 13, 2016

In her new book, The Book of Veganish (Pam Krauss Books/Avery, 2016), Kathy Freston shares her own journey from omnivore to vegan — including many stops along the way. “I’d always been an animal lover, and one day after seeing a pamphlet depicting animals being led to slaughter, I realized that I wanted to be someone who loved animals, not ate them,” she recalls. That was 12 years ago, but she didn’t go cold turkey on burgers, ice cream, cheese and eggs. Instead, she gradually started leaning toward a more plant-based diet. “I didn’t give up anything until I’d found an alternative I liked as much or more, so it never felt like I was depriving myself,” she says.

So what exactly does it mean to be “veganish?”
Kathy Freston: I’m all about the -ish. I get upset with the ‘vegan police’ who insist on purity and a strict regime. Too many people will reject that message because it’s just too hard. It’s OK to give yourself a little wiggle room as you investigate plant-based eating and move away from eating animals. But it should be a joyful process done in your own way at your own pace. ‘Veganish’ is about individual choice and not putting too much pressure on yourself to do it perfectly.

What do you suggest as a starting point for someone who wants to be veganish but doesn’t really know where to begin?
KF: When I started eating this way, I didn’t have the benefit of social media to help me out. Now, the best thing you can do is check out Instagram, type in #VeganFood or #VeganRecipes and you’ll get tons of amazing ideas. It’s really inspiring. And once you see all of the options, it doesn’t feel so daunting to eat this way. Read more

Back-to-School Recipe Roundup

by in Healthy Recipes, Kid-Friendly, Uncategorized, August 28, 2016

It’s that time of year again: You need breakfasts that are quick to make and eat, lunches you can pack the night before, and after-school snacks that will keep kids going strong till dinnertime. To get the school year off to a healthy start, we’ve rounded up some great ideas and easy-to-make recipes that will help get you and the kids out the door on time.

 

Breakfast in a Hurry

Pumped-up pancakes: Add some shredded kale and apples to your regular pancake batter for an extra dose of nutrients.

Yogurt parfait: Layering plain or vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit and granola makes this fun breakfast a complete — and filling — meal.

Overnight oats: Prep these the night before and your kids can dig in as soon as they get up.

Breakfast burritos (pictured above): These wraps are a hearty and healthy breakfast — perfect for kids who are extra-hungry in the morning. And if you’re really in a rush, simply wrap a scrambled egg in a tortilla and hand it to your kid on his way out the door.

Frittata: Make this yummy dish on Sunday and your kids can eat it for breakfast all week long. Read more

Want to Be Happier? Eat More Fruits and Veggies

by in Food News, July 23, 2016

You already know they’re good for you in all kinds of ways, but the latest research on fruits and vegetables has revealed some very surprising results. Apparently, eating more produce can actually increase your level of happiness over time. The newly released study, conducted at the University of Warwick, followed 12,000 people who kept food diaries and had their psychological well-being measured. What it found is that people got incrementally happier with every daily serving of fruit and vegetables they ate (up to eight portions a day). Why the connection between increased produce consumption and increased happiness? Researchers don’t know for sure, but one possible theory is that the abundance of antioxidants the fruits and vegetables provides leads to higher levels of carotenoids in the blood — and having higher levels of carotenoids has been linked to optimism. Read more

Get to Know Potassium

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, June 18, 2016

Sure, you’ve heard of potassium, but how well do you really know this mineral? Potassium plays a very important role in maintaining good health, but it turns out that it’s a nutrient that many Americans regularly fall short on. In fact, according to a study published in 2012, less than 2 percent of adults get the amount of potassium recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board. Those recommendations call for adults to consume 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily.

“The best food sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables, and most Americans simply do not eat enough of them to get the potassium they need,” says Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Potassium is an important electrolyte, and it works in partnership with sodium (also an electrolyte) to help regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals. “Most people get too much sodium and not enough potassium, which can throw off this balance,” says Rumsey. Read more

Are Bright Restaurants Healthier?

by in Food News, June 11, 2016

You’re probably already aware that eating off extra-large plates can translate into consuming extra-large portions and that watching TV during a meal may distract you enough to make you overeat. The latest research on restaurant ambience examined how bright versus dim lighting affected diners’ food choices.

The study had several different prongs. The first involved a survey of 160 patrons at casual chain restaurants. Those sitting in brightly lit rooms were 16 to 24 percent more likely to order healthy foods (such as grilled fish or chicken and vegetables), while those in rooms where the lights were dimmer were more likely to order unhealthy items (like fried food or dessert). Plus, those eating in darker dining rooms ordered 39 percent more calories. Read more

Why Should We Care About Added Sugar?

by in Food News, June 9, 2016

The biggest buzz surrounding the revamped Nutrition Facts label recently unveiled at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit is the news that added sugars (not just total sugars) will be required on food packaging. “‘Added sugar’ means anything that’s used to sweeten a product beyond any sugars that occur naturally in that food,” explains Libby Mills, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And once that info is on the label in black and white, you’ll no longer be able to kid yourself into thinking added sugars are found only in sweets, sodas and baked goods. “Sugar is added to a variety of ‘healthy’ foods — including salad dressing, tomato sauce, soups, breads and yogurt,” says Mills. “Places you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find it.”

The problem with added sugar is that it’s basically adding empty calories to whatever you’re eating. “You’re getting the calories without much nutrition to go with it,” says Mills. “And that can contribute to weight gain, tooth decay, diabetes and numerous other health issues. The American Heart Association guidelines call for no more than six teaspoons a day of added sugar for women and nine for men. Read more

Baobab: The Superfruit with the Silly Name

by in Have You Tried, June 7, 2016

It looks and sounds like something out a Dr. Seuss book, but the baobab is as serious as it gets when it comes to health benefits and nutritional bang. Native to the African savannah, the baobab tree is often called “the tree of life” because for centuries locals utilized all of its parts to create food, beverages, medicines, and fibers to weave ropes and mats. But the baobab had become undervalued by Africans who saw it as a famine food, and the fruit was virtually unknown to the rest of the world. Read more

How Accurate Is Your Fitness Tracker?

by in Fitness, May 17, 2016

Wearable fitness trackers — including Fitbit and Jawbone devices — are wildly popular ways to keep a tally of all the daily activities you do. They count steps and calories, measure heart rate and, in some cases, monitor things like how much and how well you sleep. But before you live and die by those numbers on your device, you might want to consider something: How accurate is all that information anyway? Read more

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