All Posts In Food & Nutrition Experts

Ask An Expert: Is Couscous Healthy?

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, April 2, 2017

Ever wondered about couscous…what is it? How it’s prepared? And most of all, is it healthy? A registered dietitian weighs in on this commonly misunderstood food.

 

What Is Couscous?

Often mistaken for an ancient grain, couscous is actually tiny pieces of wheat pasta – basically a mixture of semolina flour and water. Popular in cuisines around the globe, couscous is quick cooking and can be used like rice to accompany a wide variety of foods.

Traditional or Moroccan couscous are very small grains that can be prepared by simply adding hot water or broth and allowing to steep for 5 minutes to allow the liquid to be absorbed. Larger round pieces of couscous known as Israeli or pearled can be cooked in boiling liquid. This version takes slightly larger to cook and has a more robust and pleasantly chewy texture. Read more

Can The Mediterranean Diet Help Treat Depression?

by in Diets, Food & Nutrition Experts, March 26, 2017

Feeling a bit down? New research suggests that a Mediterranean diet can help treat depression. Now that’s cause for celebration! The study suggests that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and lean proteins may be able to treat major depressive episodes.

 

The study

The researchers followed 67 Australian individuals with a history of depression and poor dietary habits. Study participants were randomly sorted into two groups. One group received dietary intervention, consisting of 60-minutes of Dietitian-lead nutrition one time per week. The second group received social support, otherwise known as ‘befriending’ or spending time with another individual discussing neutral topics, like sports, news or music. In addition to the interventions, both groups were being treated with a mixture of anti-depressive medication or therapy.

The dietary intervention group learned about the importance of eating a Mediterranean diet, including 5-8 servings of whole grains per day, 6 servings of vegetables per day, 3 servings of fruit per day, 3-4 servings of legumes per day, 2-3 servings of low-fat and unsweetened dairy foods per week, 1 serving of raw and unsalted nuts per day, 2 servings of fish per week, 3-4 servings of lean red meats per week, 2-3 servings of  chicken per week, 6 eggs per week and 3 tablespoons of olive oil per day. They were also encouraged to reduce their intake of sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast-food, processed meats and sugary drinks to no more than 3 per week. Read more

Healthy Cooking Mistakes You’re Likely Making

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, March 24, 2017

Cooking more healthfully doesn’t need to be a painful task, but if you’re falling into these common traps you may be fighting an uphill battle. How many of these habits do you need to break?

 

You don’t measure high calorie ingredients

There is such thing as “too much of a good thing.” While there’s no disputing that ingredients like olive oil, nuts, avocado and nut butters offer healthy fats, inflated portions can lead to inflated waistlines. When each tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat, and each cup of cooked whole grain pasta adds up to 200 calories, it’s important to measure out these ingredients to avoid a calorie overload.

 

You defrost meat on the countertop

Is it common practice for you to toss that package of frozen chicken on the countertop before you leave for work? This is a food safety nightmare waiting to happen. The drastic temperature shift from freezer to counter rolls out the red carpet for potentially harmful bacteria and foodborne illness. Instead defrost meat safely overnight in the fridge. Or if you’re in a time crunch, defrost in the microwave then cook immediately. Read more

Creative Ways To Use Dates

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, March 21, 2017

Growing up, I spent my summers in Israel, where dates were part of the daily diet. These days, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that this dried fruit has become mainstream in the States. I spoke with Colleen Sundlie, founder of the Date Lady, to ask for her tips for getting creative with this versatile, nutrient-packed fruit.

The History

This naturally dehydrated fruit goes back over 5,000 years, and is native to the Middle East. These babies require a hot, dry climate, and are grown in the Middle East, Africa, along with California and Arizona. You may be familiar with the Medjool variety, but there are numerous other varieties including Dayri, Halawy, Thoory, and Zahidi which may be found in specialty food markets.  Most varieties are about 1-2 inches long and have an oval shape with a single oblong seed inside. The skin is paper thin, while the flesh has a sweet taste.

Dates are green when unripe, and turn yellow, golden brown, black, or deep red when ripe. The sweet fruits are typically picked and ripened off the tree before drying. You can find pitted and un-pitted dates at the market. Read more

Q&A With Rebecca Scritchfield, Author of Body Kindness

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, March 7, 2017

Visit any bookstore and you will be bombarded with cookbooks and diet books that promise weight loss results in no time flat. But the author of Body Kindness, Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RDN, HFS, is trying to change all of that with one simple concept: being kind to your body. In her new book, Body Kindness, Scritchfield urges people to ditch the crazy fad diets and treat their body with the love and respect it deserves. I was lucky enough to chat with the author and dietitian, and to get the inside scoop about her new book and the message of body kindness.

 

What prompted you to write Body Kindness?

I can trace it all the way back to being a teenager and reading the glossy magazines about how to look good in a bikini. I developed a mindset that you congratulate yourself for the foods you don’t eat and the way you look. For most of my life, I believed that health was about being in the best shape of your life and keeping a low weight.

I genuinely became a dietitian because I wanted to help people get healthy. Deep down, I always thought that was about weight loss. When I had my clients on my weight loss program, it reminded me of my own experience growing up. We would congratulate when pounds were lost, but they weren’t learning how to make better choices or take care of their bodies. I got frustrated because I wasn’t really helping develop long-lasting habits. When I had the opportunity to write a book, I wanted to focus on relinquishing the idea of trying to control your body and adopting what you can control — your habits. Read more

To Boost Your Health, Spice Up Your Life

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, March 5, 2017

When we season our foods with spices, we tend to have flavor in mind. But herbs and spices have myriad health benefits. They can help us to cut down on salt and — since they are plant-based — spices may pack an impressive phytonutrient punch, with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or even anti-cancer potential.

In fact, registered dietitian nutritionist Carrie Dennett recently compared your spice cabinet to “a natural pharmacy in your kitchen.”

So are some herbs and spices more potent than others? Yes, actually.

“Generally the brighter or darker in color, the higher the antioxidant content,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Serena Ball, MS, RD, who writes about food and nutrition at Teaspoon of Spice, as well as for Healthy Eats. “Think turmeric.”  Read more

Myth or Fact? Cooking with Aluminum Foil Is Bad for Your Health

by in Food & 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 & 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

5 Nordic Foods to Add to Your Diet

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, Food News & Trends, 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

Make Whole-Grain Swaps to Burn Calories, Boost Metabolism

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, Food News & Trends, 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

123...10...