All Posts In Healthy Tips

Food Fight!: Soy Nut Butter vs. Sunflower Seed Butter

by in Food Fight, September 15, 2014

soy butter and sunflower seed butter
Which of these alterna-nut butters is the superior pick? Just in time for the back-to-school season, two sandwich spreads battle it out.  Read more

5 Easy Meals To Fuel After-School Activities

by in Healthy Tips, Kid-Friendly, September 11, 2014

asian chicken quinoa salad

As every parent knows, the season of running from school to countless extracurricular activities is upon us. How best to get everyone fed along the way? Avoid the temptations of the drive-through by having one of these nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals instead.

Asian Chicken Quinoa Salad (above)
Shredded rotisserie chicken paired with protein-rich quinoa will help soothe tired muscles after a long day. Kid-friendly vegetables, including carrots and sugar snap peas, are also in the mix, which gets a delectable sesame-soy dressing. Read more

10 Health Foods We’re All Saying the Wrong Way (Kefir, Anyone?)

by in Healthy Tips, August 18, 2014

kefir

It’s a cruel fact: Many of the foods that are potentially good for us also have names seemingly designed to trip us up. Who among us did not have the red-in-the-face moment of learning that quinoa wasn’t pronounced “kee-noah”? To spare us all future embarrassment in the aisles of the Health Food Hut, here’s a guide to several food words known to cause verbal stumbles.

Acai
What it is: This dark purple berry is now ubiquitous in health-food store products everywhere, thanks to its reputed superfood powers. It’s a storehouse of antioxidants and may help support the immune system.
How to say it: You’ll sound like a pro at the smoothie shack when you ask to have “ah-sah-EE” added to the mix.

Agar (also, Agar-Agar)
What it is: This gelatinous substance is derived from red algae and used as a thickener and gelling agent in foods like puddings, jelly candies, soups and sauces. Because it comes from a plant (unlike gelatin, which is derived from animals), it’s popular with vegetarians and vegans who can’t resist a good pudding.
How to say it: It’s pronounced “AH-ger,” which, beer lovers will note, rhymes with lager.

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When It Comes to Healthier Grilling, How to Tame the Flames and More

by in Healthy Tips, August 16, 2014

grilled chicken
With the middle of August somehow already here, fans of open-flame cooking are right to embrace the last stretch of grilling season with as much fervor as possible. But is it possible to fire up the grill without flaring up the health risks?

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Food Fight!: Caffeinated Drinks

by in Food Fight, July 16, 2014

caffeinated drinks
Looking for that morning or afternoon buzz? Caffeinated creations — including coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks — vary not only in their pick-me-up powers but also in their nutritional benefits. Find out which ones offer the most (and least) perks.

Coffee
Caffeine content: A typical cup of coffee (8 fluid ounces) contains 80 to 100 milligrams.
Perks and minuses: While black coffee contains an almost nonexistent amount of calories (about 5 per cup), too much cream and sugar will quickly change that. On the plus side, coffee is rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants that may benefit brain and heart health.

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Can Butter Be Part of a Healthy Diet? (Seriously, Now.)

by in Healthy Tips, July 12, 2014

butter curls
The old butter-versus-margarine controversy has been thrust back in the spotlight. With more consumers favoring wholesome, natural foods, margarine has taken a backseat to butter. But can the full-fat delight actually be part of a healthy diet?

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5 Ways to Prevent Summer Weight Gain in Children

by in Healthy Tips, July 6, 2014

ice pops
A Harvard University study released last month found that kids gain weight more quickly over the summer than during the school year. With the warm weather and more opportunities to play outdoors, one might think the opposite is true. But it turns out there are several factors at play.

The study, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Preventing Chronic Disease, compiled and analyzed the results of seven studies published since 1990. The studies were conducted among children ages 5 to 17. The researchers found that black, Hispanic and overweight children and adolescents were at highest risk of gaining weight quickly over the summer. The study determined that these adolescents gained weight because they spent more time in front of TV and computer screens and were more likely to eat unhealthy snacks. These children also may have slept less, as their summer days were less structured compared with those during the school year.

What Parents Can Do
There are several basic strategies that can help keep kids from gaining weight during summer vacation. Here are five.

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Should You Skip Breakfast? (Sorry, the Answer Is Still No.)

by in Healthy Tips, June 19, 2014

egg in a hole
A study published earlier this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that skipping breakfast doesn’t affect weight loss in dieters. But if you think the findings offer permission to skip breakfast, think again.

The Study
Researchers examined the effect of skipping or eating breakfast on weight loss in 309 healthy overweight and obese people who ranged in age from 20 to 65. One group ate breakfast before 10 a.m., while the second group didn’t eat anything before 11 a.m. A third group consisting of 44 people who normally skipped breakfast and 52 people who normally ate breakfast were not given any instruction.

The study found that eating or skipping breakfast did not affect weight loss one way or the other. But does it truly not matter if you bypass breakfast?

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Orange Is the New Orange. Nutritionally, That Is.

by in Healthy Tips, June 5, 2014

carrots
With the new season of the prison drama Orange Is the New Black set to debut this week, it seems like a good time to celebrate all things orange. But that’s not necessarily a nod to neon-orange processed food — like crunchy cheese curls — or even prison garb, for that matter. This is about the tasty orange stuff that grows on trees and plants, all of which is uniquely good for us.

“The reality is various types of orange produce are all very similar nutritionally,” says Mary Howley Ryan, MS, RDN, owner of Beyond Broccoli Nutritional Counseling, in Jackson, Wyo. “The carotenoids — especially beta-carotene that turns into vitamin A — not only give them their beautiful color but also provide big health benefits.” That said, there are literally hundreds of different carotenoid compounds to be found in orange fruits and vegetables, so it pays to try them all.

Carrot
The antioxidant beta-carotene is found in such plentiful quantities in carrots that it was actually named after the vegetable. This nutrient is also widely studied — research in the Netherlands found that those who had higher levels of carrot intake had significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease. And other compounds called polyacetylenes found in carrots have more recently been shown to inhibit growth of colon cancer cells in mice.

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5 Must-Haves for a Healthy Summer Fridge

by in Healthy Tips, May 15, 2014

5 Must-Haves for a Healthy Summer FridgeI know the 4th of July will be here in what feels like minutes. What better time, then, to “summer-ize” my fridge? I want to keep things lean, light and healthier in the summer, and by stocking my fridge (and freezer!) now, I’ll be ready for the season well before Memorial Day.

You probably do your own version of spring-cleaning in your fridge, making it healthy and appealing: chopping veggies to store in chilled water, peeling and slicing fruit into bowls for a fresh healthy dessert, or making a few batches of refreshing spa water to keep you hydrated now that the weather is warmer (see my post on that topic).

Here are my top five food items to add to your healthy and lean fridge this summer:

1. Low-Cal Condiments: I keep my fridge stocked with low-calorie condiments. I reach for these as dips or to add flavor to foods. My favorites are: Dijon mustard, hot sauce (such as Frank’s) and the less-known Slawsa. Here are some ideas for using them:

  • Dijon Mustard: Use it as a base for salad dressing. It will help emulsify a water-heavy vinaigrette, so you can make a dressing out of 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water and 1 part olive oil if you start with a hefty spoonful of mustard. Or mix Dijon mustard with some chopped herbs and use it to coat chicken or pork before cooking for added moisture and flavor. Finally, try whisking it into sauces at the end of cooking for a creamy texture for almost no fat or calories.
  • Hot Sauce: Mix a few tablespoons of hot sauce with a spoonful of water and a tiny knob of melted butter, then toss with grilled chicken or fish for a healthy Buffalo-style appetizer. Or pour it over an egg white omelet tucked into a corn tortilla for a perfect breakfast or lunch soft taco.
  • Slawsa: This is a low-cal condiment of cabbage and a tangy sweet mustard. It has 15 calories per serving, and it can go on anything from sandwiches to roasted or grilled fish or chicken. It’s also great for topping a plate of eggs or loading up some baked whole-wheat pita chips. My grandmother always said her health secret was to eat cabbage every time she had a chance, so I love honoring her with my favorite condiment. Note that there is some sugar in Slawsa, which is only significant if you start eating it out of the jar by the spoonful. (I say that completely hypothetically, of course.)

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