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Food News: Chains Offering Vegan Fast-Food Options

by in Food News, October 1, 2011
7-11 logo
Interesting news for vegans: 7-11 is now selling vegan meals.

Is veganism on the rise? 7-Eleven sure thinks so; they’re now offering ready-to-eat vegan meals in about 100 locations in four Northeast states. The convenience chain’s stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey are selling Vegan Linguine Tikka Masala, Vegan Pad Thai Noodles, Vegan Asian Linguine, and Vegan Spinach Noodles with Vegetables.

And 7-Eleven isn’t the only chain offering vegan options these days. Johnny Rockets, best known for its milkshakes, serves a vegan Boca burger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mustard called the Streamliner.

Order a pie from Pizza Hut and ask for vegan sauce, or try Little Caesars, Papa John’s and Chuck E. Cheese for vegan sauce and dough. Heap on the vegetables and you’ve got quite the veggie-friendly meal.

For even more Italian, vegans can visit Macaroni Grill and chow down on capellini pomodoro with oil and garlic, or order Tomato Bruschetta sans cheese.

Quiznos Subs serves up a veggie sub with guacamole, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and mushrooms, just hold the cheese and ask for dairy-free vinaigrette or mustard. If lettuce wraps are more your style, stop by P.F. Chang’s for Tofu Lettuce Wraps with mushrooms, green onions and water chestnuts served over crispy rice sticks.

No need to skip dessert, just stop by Dairy Queen. The confectionery boasts Star Kiss bars or cherry, grape, blue raspberry, lemon line, watermelon and kiwi strawberry slushies—all of which are vegan, of course.

What do you think of the vegan convenience-food trend?

Advice from the US Surgeon General on Healthy Families: Have Fun

by in Food News, September 28, 2011
surgeon general dr benjamin
Dr. Regina Benjamin, US Surgeon General

The US Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin was in New York City last week for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases, and for the Food Insight Global Diet and Physical Activity Communications Summit. In layman’s terms, Dr. Benjamin was in New York to meet with some important global leaders to discuss the prevention of non-communicative diseases (also called NCD’s) : cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes. These diseases are responsible for three in five deaths worldwide, but medical research has proven that they can be prevented through proper diet and exercise.

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Food News: Darden Restaurants and Michelle Obama Team to Revamp Menus

by in Food News, September 20, 2011
michelle obama
Michelle Obama, accompanied by Darden chef Julie Elkinton, talks customers at Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Md. Photo by: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Darden Restaurants, the company that owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, recently pledged its commitment to revamp menus in an attempt to reduce calories, provide greater variety for kids and offer lower sodium options.

First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America joined the company at an Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Maryland for the announcement.

“The First Lady continues to lead the growing national efforts to make healthy food options more available and accessible, and we’re pleased to collaborate with her and the Partnership for a Healthier American on this commitment,” said Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer of Darden Restaurants.

Building upon the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, the company hopes to reduce calories in its menu items by 10 percent over five years, and 20 percent over 10 years. New calorie-conscious items will replace heavier fare, while some dishes are being resized and retested with sodium levels in mind.

The biggest change is coming to Darden’s kid’s menus. Dishes will automatically come with fruits or vegetables as a side dish, along with an 8 oz. serving of 1-percent milk .

What do you think? Will the new menu items be a hit?

What’s the Best School Lunch Program?

by in Back to School, Food News, September 16, 2011
kids at school lunch
How does your local school's lunch program rate?

With Michelle Obama’s push to promote healthy eating, some schools are taking action. We looked at public schools around the country to check out what they’re doing to make lunches healthier. We found some forward thinkers and amazing programs.

Washington State
The Bellevue School District in Washington State has implemented several healthy eating programs. The first is their Fruit, Vegetable and Grain of the Month Program. For the past 4 to 5 years, one food is featured from each category and information can be found on the district website. There are also educational signs posted in the lunch room and tasting that’s done in the elementary, middle and high schools. Some featured grains have been farro, brown rice, wheat pasta, wheat berries, couscous, and bulgur. Hot, grain-based sides will also be offered this year such as lentil-barley pilaf and wheat berry stuffing.

This year, the Bellevue School District is also implementing Meatless Mondays. Some featured items on the menu are cheese-stuffed pasta shells, cheese enchiladas and a hummus platter.

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What is Glucomannan?

by in Food News, August 19, 2011
glucomannan
Have you heard of this stuff?

Weight Loss Supplement?
Often marketed for weight loss and type 2 diabetes, glucomannan (also know as “konjac”) is a root primarily composed of an indigestible fiber – which is why it can have a major laxative effect. While scarfing down this stuff in supplement form (it’s currently available in tablet, capsule or powder forms) may help increase fullness and curb appetite, there are smarter and safer ways to do this.

Because of its inability to be absorbed, it may also reduce the absorption of much-needed fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. When taken in combination with certain herbal supplements and diabetic medications, this supplement may also cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar.

Other safety risks include throat and gastrointestinal obstructions, so people that do choose to take this supplement are cautioned to use it in powdered or capsule form, instead of tablets.

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Food News: Minibars, Vending Machines Offer Healthy Alternatives

by in Food News, August 7, 2011
vending machine
Coming to a vending machine near you: healthy snacks.

Hotel and resort minibars are getting a healthy makeover. The Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Four Seasons are just two companies in a handful of hotel chains opting for healthier minibar options, according to a recent Marketwatch report. Instead of the traditional calorie-filled junk food fare, guests can choose to snack on products like organic Clif Bars, Terra chips and gluten-free energy bars.

Why the sudden change of heart? Hotel patrons are actually clamoring for healthy options. The trail mix and cashews outsell the chocolate cookies, and Fiji Water is the minibar’s most popular item at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, Adam Martindale, the resort’s director of food and beverage, told Marketwatch.

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Food News: The Cheesecake Factory Adds Low-Cal Menu

by in Food News, August 3, 2011
cheesecake factory
Cheesecake Factory: now offering low-cal fare.

The Cheesecake Factory is well-known for its high calorie appetizers, entrees and especially decadent desserts. Starting August 9, however, the chain restaurant will debut a calorie conscience menu, called “SkinnyLicious.”

The menu contains almost 50 new and signature items all under 590 calories. Some of the dishes include Mexican Tortilla Soup and Tuscan Chicken, plus revamped versions of current menu items like Chicken Pot Stickers and Asian Chicken Salad. Five cocktails, under 150 calories each, are also featured.

“We wanted to create a menu that delivers an exceptional dining experience to our calorie-conscious guests, without compromising the delicious taste that people have come to expect from The Cheesecake Factory,” David Overton, founder of The Cheesecake Factory, said in a press release.

To learn more, read the full release.

What do you think? Will the new low-calorie menu be a hit or will people still choose the old menu options?

Food News: McDonald’s Makes Changes to the Happy Meal

by in Dining Out, Food News, July 28, 2011
mcdonalds french fries
McDonald's is giving kids apples with their fries. Think it'll make a difference?

Are McDonald’s Happy Meals getting healthier? The fast food chain is making changes to the items in its kids’ meal as part of a long-term menu evolution. The company hopes to improve nutrition choices and awareness—starting with the new Happy Meal. Read more

Hot Topic: Clean Eating

by in Food News, July 20, 2011
woman eating tomato
How clean is your diet?

Clean Eating is a term that’s been thrown around a lot lately, only it’s not necessarily understood. We’ll explain what it is and if it’s advisable to eat this way.

What Is It?
Although you’ll find Clean Eating “diets”- it’s more of a way of living than a temporary weight loss solution. The term Clean Eating is relatively new, but it dates back to the 1960s when the natural health food movement looked down on diets filled with processed foods.

Author Terry Walters helped fuel the Clean Eating movement into mainstream America. According to the author of Clean Food and Clean Start, it’s all about consuming natural, unprocessed foods. Her philosophy is:

  • Eat a varied diet
  • Eat a rainbow of colors
  • Enjoy food and mealtime
  • Eat locally grown and seasonal food
  • Eat all 5 tastes (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami)

This means eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean proteins (a.k.a. real food) instead of fast food or highly processed, packaged foods, and giving new foods a try that you may not recognize at the farmers market— a lot like Dana’s Market Watch series.

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Food News: EWG’s Release of the 2011 Meat Eater’s Guide

by in Food News, July 18, 2011
london broil
Make smarter, healthier, greener choices.

We’ve been keeping you updated on the Environmental Working Group’s how-to list for buying organic produce (a.k.a. – the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen). Today they’re unveiling the much anticipated 2011 Meat Eater’s Guide – a tool to help educate consumers about the environmental impact of their protein choices.

How It Works
EWG partnered with the environmental analysis firm CleanMetrics to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with 20 popular proteins that Americans consume. Red meat, pork, poultry and fish were obvious points of interest, but vegans and vegetarians should also pay attention – protein sources like milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, beans, tofu, nuts and some vegetables were also evaluated.

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