All Posts In Food News

Trans Fats: What the News Means

by in Food News, November 8, 2013

doughnut
Everyone is talking about the FDA’s call for the complete removal of artificial trans fats from the food supply. What does this mean for the future of your diet?

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5 Chicken Kitchen Safety Tips

by in Food News, Food Safety, October 10, 2013

chicken meat
After nearly 300 people became sick from salmonella in 18 states, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert. The culprit is raw chicken produced at three Foster Farms facilities in California. Luckily, proper handling of poultry can help prevent illness. To do so, make sure to follow these five food safety rules.

#1: Defrost Properly
Those days of defrosting on your counter top overnight are long gone. One bacterium can multiply to 1 billion over 10 hours—something you don’t want to fool around with. To properly defrost chicken, place it in the refrigerator on a tray the night before. If you have smaller pieces of chicken, you can defrost in the microwave (look for the “defrost” button), as long as you cook them immediately after.

#2: Store Chicken Properly
When placing raw chicken in the refrigerator, make sure it is wrapped and stored on a lower shelf. Only proper cooking can destroy the bacteria, so foods that will not be further cooked (like cheese, veggies or fruit) should be placed above the raw chicken so the chicken juices won’t drip on them.

#3: Skip the Rinsing
Could it be that Julia Child’s habit of rinsing chicken has stuck with us after all these years? A recent study conducted at Drexel University found that 90% of folks still do it! For the first time, in 2005, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans included food safety, and they advise against rinsing chicken before cooking. The reason is that those chicken juices get all over the place—other dishes, the inside of the sink and the counter tops–creating a bacterial playground.

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Why You Should Give Pale Veggies a Chance

by in Food News, September 19, 2013

white veggies

Health experts keep telling us to eat the rainbow, but according to one recent report, we should be eating more pale produce: Mushrooms, parsnips, onions, cauliflower and potatoes are surprisingly rich in fiber, magnesium and other nutrients. “A potato actually has more potassium than a banana,” says the paper’s author, Purdue University professor Connie Weaver. Another plus: Potatoes provide one of the best nutritional values per penny in the produce aisle—assuming, of course, that you don’t undo all of the good with a deep fryer.

(Photograph by Kang Kim)

Good News on the Gluten-Free Front

by in Food News, Gluten-Free, August 6, 2013

gluten-free cookies
Last week, the FDA issued concrete rules on what foods can qualify as officially gluten-free. Learn more about what this means for folks who need to avoid gluten, plus read up on some important tips.

Defining Gluten-Free
More than 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that makes them unable to digest gluten. The only way to treat the disease is to exclude gluten from the diet or else risk damage to the digestive system as well as nutrient deficiencies and other serious medical problems.

The new FDA rule mandates that products labeled “gluten-free” must contain no more than 20 parts per million of gluten. While many companies have already set this limit for themselves, the FDA rule, which food manufacturers must comply with by this time next year, will help ensure that companies using the term are adhering to the standard.

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Aronia: The New Superfood?

by in Food News, July 16, 2013

aronia berries
A buzz is brewing over this tiny berry. Have you heard about Aronia yet?

What is Aronia?
Unlike the majority of popular super fruits (think acai and pomegranate), this berry is native to North America. States like Iowa and Ohio have been growing quite a bit of it in recent years. Aronia melanocarpa (its proper botanical name) is also grown around the globe in countries like Denmark and Russia. Sometimes referred to as “chokeberry,” these deep black-ish purple berries look similar to blueberries but have a much more sharp and sour flavor.

Aronia Products
Aronia juice seems to be the most popular form out there; it’s often blended with sweeter flavors like apple and grape juices. Juice isn’t the only way to get some of this berry. Capsules, teas, syrups and even food colorings are some of the newer products beginning to hit the market. But why the hype?

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Food News: National Parks to Offer Healthier Grub

by in Food News, June 20, 2013

park

Worried about finding healthy eats while your family visits national parks this summer? Fret not, the First Lady’s healthy diet initiative has got your back.

The National Park Service, as part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, recently announced its new nationwide “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” plan: a list of food guidelines and standards for healthy options at more than 250 locations across national parks.

“Traditional favorites such as hot dogs and ice cream will remain, but the new standards will provide additional choices, such as fish tacos and yogurt parfaits, for the 23 million people who buy meals in national parks each year,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis in a press release.

Options include items like lentil soup, bison hot dogs and fresh produce from local farms. Grand Canyon South Rim and Yellowstone National park are among a handful of sites already offering healthier fair.

To find out more, view the standards here.

Tell us: What do you think of the healthy park initiative?

Should Healthy Kids Be On Special Diets?

by in Food News, May 2, 2013

kid eating
It’s becoming more common to see parents eliminating foods or food groups from their healthy child’s diet. Even superstar mom Gwenyth Paltrow reportedly cut all gluten and carbs from her kids’ diets. Is it a good idea for parents to make drastic dietary changes without medical supervision?

Why Eliminate?
We’re not talking about a child who is allergic to a food or needs to avoid it due to a medical reason. Parents are eliminating food groups like gluten, carbs, sugar, eggs or milk because they feel they aren’t healthy. Perhaps they spoke to “specialists” who advised them to do so or they made their own decision based on views they’ve seen in the media. (Oftentimes, these recommendations are geared towards adults, not kids.) They may also decide to follow a hot trend that isn’t scientifically sound.

According to this US Weekly article, Paltrow states that all the doctors, nutritionists and health-conscious folks she’s approached agree that gluten isn’t healthy. However, most registered dietitians agree that gluten shouldn’t be avoided if not medically warranted, especially in children.

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Do Diet Cocktails Get You Drunk Faster?

by in Food News, March 21, 2013

cocktails
Are you a rum and diet Coke drinker or do you prefer a calorie-free cocktail blend made with artificial sweeteners? Whichever is your poison, recent studies have found that consuming artificial sweeteners with your booze can make you tipsy faster.

The Research
A 2006 study found that mixing vodka with a diet beverage containing artificial sweetener verses a sugar-sweetened beverage got folks drunk 15 minutes faster. Those downing the cocktail with artificial sweeteners also had a higher blood alcohol concentration by 0.02.

Although the recent study conducted by Northern Kentucky University had a pretty small sample size (about 16 subjects), the results pointed to the same conclusion. Researchers determined that sugar-sweetened alcohol is absorbed slower into the blood while the artificial stuff doesn’t hinder alcohol absorption.

While you may think that sticking to calorie free mix-ins like seltzer may be a better option, a 2007 study found that carbonated drinks cause alcohol to be absorbed quicker compared with flat mixers like orange and cranberry juice.

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Anne Burrell Joins the Great American School Lunch Challenge

by in Food News, March 8, 2013

Anne BurrellNo stranger to friendly food competition, Anne Burrell is a seasoned restaurant chef known for her no-nonsense mentorship of a team of recruits on Worst Cooks in America and eager executive-chef hopefuls on Chef Wanted. In Washington, D.C. yesterday, she donned her chef’s hat for a worthy cause, taking the stage next to Iron Chef Jose Garces for a good-natured cook-off in the Great American School Lunch Challenge. This contest, in concert with the Partnership for a Healthier America, celebrates the work of Let’s Move!, an effort headed by First Lady Michelle Obama to reduce the rates of childhood obesity in the United States through a multi-layered plan which includes access to healthy school lunches. It was up to chefs Anne and Jose to work within the confines of a limited budget and dietary restrictions to turn out deliciously wholesome dishes that were not only nutritionally sound but also appealing to kids and their perhaps picky palates.

Proud of the way the Challenge “shines a light on the school lunch program … in a fun and creative way,” Anne told us that the event “puts the task to me as a chef to say, ‘Alright, show us your creativity and what you can do with these nutritional guidelines to feed the kids in 30 minutes. Make it delicious, make it fast and make it fun.'”

Anne’s nutritious staples that won’t break the bank

Talking to Matthew Wagner: Creator of the Perfectly-Portioned Office Treat

by in Food News, March 5, 2013

candy machines
When I head to the Food Network offices for a meeting, I always pass by the cutest vending machines that dispense a handful of treats for a quarter (or two). Little did I know that the creator of these perfectly-portioned snacks, Matthew Wagner, lives down the street from me—and that I was friends with his charming wife! Over dinner one night I got the inside scoop on how Wagner Vending came to be. This inspirational story is one I had to share.

Q: The idea of Wagner Vending is to provide small portions of snack foods (like chocolate-covered almonds) without going overboard. How did you come up with the idea to create the company?

I’ve always been into fitness and staying in shape. Ever since I saw my older cousin lifting weights, I became hooked. When I was 12 years old, I decided I wanted to strive for a strong, powerful physique, but I’ve also always had a real sweet tooth. By the age of 26, I lived in New York City and was working as a broker for a large commercial real estate company. The compensation was pure commission and the job was high stress. I was full of energy and drive but I wasn’t happy with the direction of my career. My office had one of those large vending machines which I  visited daily after lunch. One day, I bought a bag of M&Ms and as I sat there enjoying my snack I began to contemplate how I could get out of this stressful job — what else I could do? Before I knew it, I devoured the bag of M&Ms and calculated an additional ½ hour of cardio to burn those extra calories. I wished I only ate half the bag or a healthier snack instead. But it’s impossible just to eat ½ the bag once you start. I needed portion control!

And that’s the moment when the idea of my business came to me.  My vision was the old-time gum ball machines that were in front of the supermarket—for a coin you’d receive a handful of candy. I wanted to purchase attractive machines and fill them with delicious gourmet and healthy upscale snacks (like dark chocolate almonds and trail mix) and place them in office pantries so people could enjoy a portioned-controlled, healthy treat. So I took a risk, scraped some money together and purchased 6 machines.

The first machines were placed in some of the offices where I’d made real estate deals. I’d swing by the offices daily hoping the machines would empty. In the meantime, I was still working at the real estate firm and would carry in a large suitcase with all of the candy to fill my new venture. I would tell co-workers who inquired that I was carrying workout clothes and my own weights. After two weeks of doing this, I returned to the machines to find them empty. Boy was I thrilled! Finally the day arrived when I said goodbye to commercial real estate and focused on my own vending company, Wagner Vending.

When the company began in 1996, I canvased the entire Empire State Building from the top floor to the bottom to secure accounts. Now in 2013, I have 1,500 machines in offices within New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

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