All Posts In Healthy Tips

How to Pick a Healthy Frozen Treat

by in Grocery Shopping, Healthy Tips, July 8, 2013

frozen treat
Nobody loves a good frozen treat more than I do, which is why it bugs me when I see store shelves overflowing with “diet” offerings that fool folks into thinking they’re better than good old ice cream. The next time you’ve got a hankering for a frozen treat, here are some useful tips.

Low-Fat Ice Cream
Light and low-fat ice creams make up for the removal of fat by adding thickeners like guar gum, locust bean gum and carrageenan (just to name a few). Since fat also provides flavor, some lightened varieties include more sugar to make up for it, which means the calories can wind up being similar to regular ice cream. More sugar, less fat, same calories – not exactly healthier. And don’t be fooled by the term slow churned; some brands may be using new technology to alter the consistency, while others may simply have more thickeners added in.

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Ask the Experts: Favorite Cooking Tools

by in Ask the Experts, July 7, 2013

lemon zester
We all have our favorite kitchen gadgets and tools. I was interested to see what tools nutrition experts favor so I polled some of the top experts from around the country; it was interesting to hear what they considered to be their most prized kitchen possession.

Plane Grater
This popular kitchen tool got two votes from the experts I asked. Lisa Eaton Wright, MS, RDN, LDN President and Media Spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association said “A Microplane grater is one of the most time-saving, efficient kitchen tools out there! There are many uses for this tool, but I use mine to grate fresh garlic for sauces and vinaigrettes, for grating fresh ginger, for grating Parmesan cheese over soups and salads, for adding a chocolate garnish to my chocolate-drizzled angel food cake, for finely mincing hot peppers — like jalapenos that I add to guacamole — and of course my favorite use is grating lemons for all kinds of dishes to add flavor and zest, particularly to my homemade pesto sauce.”

Nutrition consultant and healthy food blogger Christy Wilson, RD also favors the Microplane grater. “I use it to zest limes, oranges, lemons and to finely grate fresh ginger or garlic. This infuses so much flavor into sauces, dressings and salads and the tool itself is small, easy to handle and affordable. I love it!”

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Cheese Basics

by in Healthy Tips, July 6, 2013

cheese
Cheese is one of my favorite foods, but when it comes to getting all the cheesy facts (and there’s a ton!), I turn to the professionals. I had the opportunity to chat with the owners of Sartori Cheese who gave me pretty interesting tips for buying, storing and even pairing cheese.

Q. What are 3 basic facts folks don’t usually know about cheese?

  1. Cheese is a great snack (in moderation)! One ounce of Parmesan has more protein than red meat, 33% of the recommended daily amount for calcium, and vitamins such as B12 and riboflavin, with 11% and 8%, respectively.
  2. With some cheeses, you may experience a slight crunchy feel.  That crunch is actually crystals called calcium lactate that forms as part of the aging process.   They can also appear as white spots on the cheese and are a sign of a well-aged cheese.
  3. Wisconsin is the only state in the United States that has a Master Cheese Maker Program. This is an advanced education program for experienced cheese makers. The three year program requires a minimum of 10 years as a licensed cheese maker prior to applying to the program.

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7 Breakfast Foods That Sound Healthier Than They Are

by in Healthy Tips, July 1, 2013

granola
The most important meal of the day can often be the most hurried, which is why so many of us look to reach for something healthy and fast. But breakfast foods can be deceiving — when choosing a quick grad-and-go breakfast, watch out for these 7 foods.

Bran Muffins
Some folks assume that you can’t go wrong with anything “bran” but many packaged and fast-food bran muffins tip the scales at over 440 calories and 15 grams of fat each! A down-sized homemade version is the way to go.

Flavored Oatmeal
There’s no disputing that oats are good for digestion, curbing appetite, and heart health but that can be over-shadowed by the sugar and preservatives found in most packets of flavored instant oatmeal. Get plain (even instant is fine) and flavor it up yourself.

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5 Overly-Processed Foods

by in Healthy Tips, June 27, 2013

doughnuts in box
Did you clean your kitchen out after reading our list of the scariest processed foods a few months ago? Here are 5 more overly-processed foods that you might want to toss if you’re looking to clean up your diet.

Flavored Rice & Pastas
Check out the sodium on those seasoning packets — you could be downing 35 to 45 percent of your daily recommended dose in 1 cup. Plus you’ll get an laundry list of additives and preservatives (and they’re not even made with real cheese!)—it’s just so easy to make your own.

Healthier Alternative: 5-Ingredient Spicy Cheesy Rice

Processed Pastries
Boxed cakes, cookies and doughnuts might bring up those feel-good childhood memories, but they’re just a high-fat, nutrient-empty junk food. Some boxed doughnut varieties can have as much as 65% of your daily recommended dose of artery-clogging fat for just one! You’ll also find trans fats in some varieties, such as cakes made with shortening-based frosting and cream-filled cookies.

Healthier Alternative: Marbled Banana Bread

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Apple Cider Vinegar: Worth The Hype?

by in Healthy Tips, June 27, 2013

apple cider vinegar
There’s nothing better than apple cider vinegar for coleslaw, salad dressing and BBQ sauce, but in recent years this staple ingredient has gained popularity as a cure-all tonic.

The Hype
Nutrition-related tales claim that if you consume a daily dose of apple cider vinegar it can help with various medical conditions including heart disease and diabetes as well as aid with weight loss, digestive issues and bacterial infections. Many alternative-medicine practitioners recommend downing a few tablespoons a day straight-up or mixed with water.

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Three Tips for Summer Salads to Keep You Slim and Satisfied

by in Healthy Tips, June 25, 2013

salad
As the temperature heats up, salads become a quick and easy way to keep you cool and hydrated – most fruits and veggies are more than 90% water by weight. Many different fruits and vegetables are in season during the summer, so flavor is at its peak as well (find what’s best in your region here). Unfortunately, three of the most popular summer picnic salads are calorie-bomb side dishes: macaroni salad, potato salad and coleslaw. Here are a few tips (and recipes) to ensure your seasonal salads leave you feeling light, yet satisfied for hours:

1. Make it a Meal

When some people hear the word salad, they think “I’ll be starving in an hour.” But there are many ways to beef up a salad to make it filling for the heartiest of appetites. Add a source of protein like meat, eggs or beans. Use some heartier vegetables like corn, beets and carrots. Add a healthy fat like avocado or a handful of nuts. Then just add in a ton of your favorite veggies – different colors represent different nutrients, so go for a rainbow.

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7 Secret-Weapon Foods for Weight Loss

by in Diets & Weight Loss, Healthy Tips, June 24, 2013

shrimp
Don’t waste your money on secret potions and potentially dangerous supplements to lose weight. Instead, include these real foods in your diet to help trim your waistline.

#1: Popcorn
Did you know popcorn is a whole grain? One cup of air-popped popcorn has between 30 to 55 calories and 5% of your recommended daily dose of hunger shielding fiber. Snack on 2 cups with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese or 1 tablespoon of whipped butter with ¼ teaspoon sea salt. You can also make your own in the microwave in a flash.

Recipe: Chocolate-Orange Brown Butter Flavored Popcorn

#2: Greek Yogurt
With more protein than traditional yogurt per ounce, nonfat plain Greek yogurt can fill you up so you’ll be less likely to mindlessly snack. Not sure which brand to choose? Check how popular brands fared in Dana’s taste test.

Recipe: Fruit Salad with Limoncello and Greek Yogurt

#3: Shrimp
These crustaceans pack a protein punch for very few calories. One ounce (4 large shrimp) has 30 calories, 6 grams of protein and has minimal fat.  Shrimp is also a good source of vitamin D and selenium and even contains several energy-boosting B-vitamins. If you’re allergic to shellfish or just don’t care for shrimp, choose skinless, boneless chicken breast which has 46 calories, 9 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat per ounce.

Recipe: Robin’s Coconut Shrimp

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Is Your Job Killing You?

by in Healthy Tips, June 24, 2013

sitting at work
Hours of sitting at your desk, trips to the vending machine, stress, lack of sleep . . . is your job bad for your health? Get out of these 5 terrible work habits and create lifelong healthier ones.

1. Too Much Tushie Time
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that sitting for a prolonged period of time increases your risk of death—even if you DO engage in regular physical activity. Folks who sat for more than 11 hours a day had a 40 percent higher chance of dying within the next 3 years over those who only sat for 4 hours a day. Furthermore, those who sat between 8 to 11 hours a day had a 15 percent higher chance of dying compared with those who sat fewer than 4 hours a day.

In addition to working, we spend a lot of time lounging out in front of the TV, driving, and eating which all count as sitting-down time.

Solve it: Use small windows of opportunity to get up and walking. Use your lunch break to take a walk around the block, stand up during long calls or use wireless headsets that allow you to easily pace around, or get off a stop earlier on the bus or subway.

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Plant-Based Sources of Iron

by in Healthy Tips, June 22, 2013

handful of nuts
Iron is an essential nutrient in our diets; it’s necessary to transport oxygen and nutrients to our cells. Deficiencies are quite common, especially for vegetarians. Sure, we tend to think of animal products like beef, chicken and eggs as good sources of iron (which they are) but there are several vegetable sources of iron as well.

Heme iron (the type found in animal products) is more easily absorbed by our bodies, but that doesn’t meal non-heme (vegetarian) sources are not. Here are some plant based sources of iron and tips for preparing and eating them to maximize absorption.

Vegetarian Sources of Iron

  • Legumes: lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans, black beans, chickpeas
  • Grains: quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal
  • Nuts and seeds: pumpkin, squash, pine, pistachio, sunflower, cashews, unhulled sesame
  • Vegetables: tomato sauce, Swiss chard, collard greens
  • Other: blackstrap molasses, prune juice

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