All Posts In Healthy Tips

Natural Sweeteners: Information and Uses

by in Healthy Tips, November 17, 2012

maple syrup
Added sugars in out diet have been shown to increase the risk of obesity and disease. Does this mean you can never have sweets again? The answer is no, but it is important to understand the facts. With constant media hype surrounding buzz words like high-fructose corn syrup and refined sugar, how do you know what to choose and how much is too much? And are natural sweeteners really better for you?

The truth is, all sweeteners (both refined and natural) are considered to be discretionary calories. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women, or about 100 calories worth. Men should aim for about 9 teaspoons a day, or 150 calories. The problem is, with so many added sugars in our diet (surveys have shown that the average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day) we can achieve this quite quickly. A 12-oz soda contains 8 tsp of sugar. Many cereals, even the “healthy stuff” have 3-4 tsp of sugar per serving and the same goes for flavored oatmeal, some tomato sauces, condiments like BBQ sauce and even that granola bar you are eating. Needless to say, the teaspoon of honey you put in your tea is rarely the culprit.

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Building Strong Bones

by in Healthy Tips, November 11, 2012

kale
About 10 million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis and an additional 34 million are estimated to have low bone-density which places them at risk for developing osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Although you hit your peak bone-mass early in life, usually around 20 years of age, there are simple changes you can make in your diet in order to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Here are some nutrients to know when it comes to planning a healthy diet to prevent osteoporosis.

It is no surprise that calcium is at the top of the list for foods that prevent osteoporosis but you may be surprised to know many Americans don’t consume enough of this important nutrient.  Though diary is an excellent source of calcium it’s not the only one.  Tofu, dark leafy greens, sardines, canned salmon and calcium fortified foods like orange juice are other options.

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One Small Change: Avoid the Health Halo

by in Healthy Tips, November 6, 2012

food labels
Just as the first impressions of a person can influence our perception of them far into the future, research shows the same can be said for the foods we eat. Once a food or restaurant is deemed “healthy”, we tend to let our guard down and forget about the facts of what we are truly eating – a proverbial junk-food wolf in a nutritious sheep’s clothing. This phenomenon for food has been dubbed the “health halo” effect.

You may have experienced a similar situation in another aspect of life: relationships. One of your friends may have become so smitten with one feature of a potential suitor (they’re attractive or fun to be around) that they completely disregarded the ten other red flags about them (i.e. they’re chronically late, don’t have a job, quick to yell at others) even though everyone else, including you, clearly saw the inconsistencies. Don’t let the same thing happen to you with the foods that you eat!

Here are a couple “seductive” labeling tactics that could lure you into eating foods that may just end up becoming a bad date for you and your waistline:

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Food for Sight

by in Healthy Tips, November 5, 2012

carrots
It’s a well-known fact that carrots are good for your eyesight, but did you know there are several nutrients that can keep your eyes healthy throughout your life? A healthy diet may help reduce the risk of vision issues like cataracts, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinaopathy and help promote good eye health from as early as infancy. Why is this important? Over 21 million Americans suffer from vision trouble and the number of Americans with eye health problems is expected to double in the next 30 year. So what foods should you include in your diet to protect your vision?  Here’s the low-down:

Keep eating carrots: the beta-carotene found in carrots turns into vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A helps you focus better in low light. In addition to carrots, good sources of beta-carotene and vitamin A include fortified milk, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and spinach.

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Food Fight: Agave vs. Honey

by in Healthy Tips, November 1, 2012

honey
This is going to be our toughest food fight yet! Two natural sweeteners pitted against each other – it’s a very difficult decision.

Agave
Most agave nectar is produced from the blue agave plant grown in desert regions like the hilly areas in Mexico. The syrup is extracted from the “honey water” found at core of the plant, filtered, heated and then processed to make it into thicker nectar you see at the store. This makes agave a good sweetener for vegans (who don’t eat honey).

Agave nectar has a dark amber color, but has a more neutral flavor than honey. One tablespoon of the sweetener has about 60 calories compared to about 45 and 60 in the same amount of granulated sugar and honey, respectively. It’s 1 ½ times sweeter than sugar and so you can use less of it. Agave easily dissolves in cold liquids like smoothies and iced tea and can be used to replace granulated sugar in baked products (see instructions below). Many food manufacturers also use agave nectar in products like energy drinks and bars because of its light flavor and over-hyped nutritional benefits.

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Ask the Experts: Favorite Halloween Treats

by in Ask the Experts, Halloween, October 25, 2012

candy bar
As a registered dietitian, my philosophy is to embrace holidays like Halloween without going overboard. This means allowing my children to go trick-or-treating and indulge in SOME treats. I’m not the only nutrition expert with this philosophy—I spoke to top experts around the country who weighed in on their favorite Halloween treats.

Ding Dong at the Dietitian’s House
Nutrition consultant Alexandra Oppenheimer, MS, RD claims “It’s not all apples and raisins at my house; I do give out candy but purchase ones that have some redeeming qualities. When picking out my Halloween offerings, I choose chocolates with nuts like peanuts or almonds and skip the sugary caramel. I choose chocolates (and lean towards the darker varieties) because of the potential heart-health benefits and antioxidants. In addition, they also provide fiber, protein and calcium. For these reasons, I prefer passing out chocolates versus candies made completely out of sugar with little to no other nutrients. Although plain chocolates and those with nuts do contribute nutrients, it’s important to remember they are still a treat and should be eaten in moderation.”

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Food Network Kitchens’ Top 15 Ingredients for a Healthy Kitchen

by in Healthy Tips, October 17, 2012

parmesan cheese
Planning ahead is key for healthy cooking. Keep your kitchen stocked with simple, inexpensive ingredients and weeknight cooking will be much easier (and more fun!). Here’s what the experts in Food Network Kitchens have in their kitchens:

1. Eggs: Whip up a quick omelet, poach eggs in tomato sauce or hard-boil a few for quick snacks throughout the week.

2. Parmesan cheese: Invest in a microplane zester and grate Parmesan into salads and soups just to name a couple. Remember a little goes a long way. We also love to throw pieces of the cheese rind into simmering soups for a flavor boost.

3. Low-fat plain Greek yogurt: Perfect on its own as a snack with fresh berries or the base for a healthy creamy dressing.

4. Real maple syrup: Keep stored in the fridge, add a quick drizzle when you’re craving a little sweetness in things like your oatmeal or coffee.

5. Pickles: Think beyond just dill cucumber pickles. We love pickled green beans, beets, cauliflower and okra. These are great to have on hand for a quick, low-calorie snack or on the side for dinner.

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Ask the Experts: Myth Busters!

by in Ask the Experts, October 2, 2012

nutrition label
Dietitians are always trying to dispel the obscene amount of nutrition myths floating out in the world. We asked nutrition experts around the country about their favorite (or rather, least favorite!) nutrition myths and how they set the record straight.

MYTH #1: Organic foods are more nutritious
BUSTEDBonnie Tandy Leblang, MS, RD clears this issue up by saying:

“In terms of vitamins and minerals, organic foods are generally no more nutritious than conventionally grown foods.  Organic refers to the way the food is grown, handled and processed — that is without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones or, in the case of milk and meat, steroids.”

Shopping for Organic Produce? Use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

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Talking to the Experts: Food Network Kitchens’ Leah Brickley

by in Ask the Experts, September 25, 2012

leah brickleyLeah Brickley is a recipe developer in the Food Network Kitchens and is also a dietetic technician (DTR), working toward her master’s degree in nutrition. Leah works on developing recipes for Food Network Magazine, Food Network Magazine Cookbooks, Food Network Apps and foodnetwork.com. We caught up to find out about her schooling, her secrets for healthy home cooking and how she maintains a healthy diet while working in one of the busiest test kitchens in the world.

Can you tell us more about what you do as a recipe developer-nutritionist at Food Network?

Sure! I have a combined degree in culinary arts and nutrition and I’m a DTR (dietetic technician registered). I’m also getting my master’s degree in nutrition. So, I get to develop a broad range of recipes from barbecued brisket to apple pie but with a special interest in healthy recipes. I’m here as an internal resource for my coworkers who have nutrition-related questions and I keep up on current health news and trends.

Do you sample every recipe made in the Food Network Kitchens? Is it difficult to eat healthy when you’re around food all day long?

I eat almost everything! We have two set times for tastings and everyone who participates has to taste and give feedback. Eating healthy isn’t as difficult as it sounds, even with that volume of food. We develop recipes using real and fresh ingredients. When I first started I did need to learn moderation because I often overate. Now it’s a few bites of everything and lots of water (and a jog or kickboxing after work)!

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Iron Chef Jose Garces’ Healthy Tips for Kids

by in Healthy Tips, September 18, 2012

jose garces

As a dad to two young children, Jose Garces is no stranger to the challenges that come with cooking for little eaters, but that doesn’t stop him from serving healthful fruits and veggies at home. This Iron Chef knows how to transform everyday ingredients into flavor-packed meals that are not only kid-approved but packed with nutrition, too. We checked in with Jose to find out his simple strategies for kid-friendly cooking and asked him to share a few simple suggestions to start the school year on a healthy note. Check out his best lunchbox picks, after-school snack solutions and more below, then get his top five healthy-eating tips for kids.

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