Beyond Chicken Nuggets: When Kids Eat Out, Can They Eat Well?

by in Dining Out, June 11, 2014

kids' plate

With their steady rotation of grilled cheese and butter-topped noodles, the “kid-friendly” section of restaurant menus has always been unimaginative. But these days it’s hard not to notice that the offerings are also fairly unhealthy. The palette of food geared toward children is primarily white, brown and orange — the colors of french fries, fried nuggets (of one sort or another) and mac and cheese. Not only is such fare typically lacking in creativity, it’s also lacking in nutrition, although there’s generally no lack of calories or sodium. It’s not uncommon for a kid’s meal to exceed 1,000 calories, more than any adult needs in one sitting.

The good news is that many restaurants are making strides in revamping the menu options for pint-sized patrons. The National Restaurant Association just hosted the second annual Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge — a competition that encourages chefs to come up with enticing but healthy alternatives for kids. Winners included an organic sunflower butter and jam sandwich on multi-grain oat bread and a whole-wheat quesadilla filled with broccoli, chicken, peppers and corn. Read more

Salad of the Month: Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan

by in Amy's Whole Food Cooking, June 10, 2014

asparagus salad
In this salad, raw asparagus spears are shaved into long ribbons and then tossed in a rich, flavorful dressing made from pine nuts, lemon, olive oil and Parmesan. It’s the kind of dressing that could double as a simple pasta sauce — and in fact, when it’s tossed with the long, wide asparagus ribbons, the dish is reminiscent of fettuccine.

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The Antioxidant Avenger Smoothie from “Blender Girl” Tess Masters

by in Cookbooks, June 9, 2014

antioxidant avenger

Tess Masters is the first to admit she’s not a trained chef, but she has been experimenting with food for as long as she can remember. As a smoothie-obsessed teen, she started exploring the various virtues of the blender as a food prep tool, and she has never looked back. It was also starting in her teen years — after a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr virus — that Masters began searching for the perfect diet to help her feel healthier. Macrobiotic, vegan, raw food — you name it, she tried it. Ultimately, what she discovered is that her perfect diet (like everyone’s) was a blend. And so, The Blender Girl was born, and this spring, The Blender Girl Cookbook. Read more

12 Ways to Make Water the Most Delicious Thing Ever

by in Healthy Recipes, June 8, 2014

infused water
These flavored waters are healthier than sugared-up sodas, iced teas and lemonades — but a whole lot more exciting than plain old H2O. Infused with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, they’re everything you never knew you a wanted in a glass of water. Thirsty yet?

Strawberry-Cucumber Water
It sounds like the start to a fruity summer cocktail, but stop while you’re ahead: This refreshing infusion doesn’t need a splash of booze to satisfy. (Seriously!)
strawberry-cucumber water

Tomato-Basil Water
Why should Caprese salad have all the fun? This infused water captures the ultimate summer combination of tomato and basil right in your glass. Bonus points for beauty.
tomato water

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Caprese Skewers: A Grill Season Great with a Low-Sodium Twist

by in Scaling Back on Sodium, Seasoning with the Seasons, June 7, 2014

caprese skewers
Summer is a perfect time to experiment with one of the best flavor boosters beyond the spice rack: fire.

Grills, of course, are great for burgers, chicken and hot dogs. But hot grates also bring out something special in fruits and vegetables, lending a smoky essence (and some sexy grill marks!) to everything they touch. And much like salt, a little heat releases the mouth-watering scent of ingredients, enhancing the flavor of a dish without the extra sodium.

So while you have the kebab skewers out, have some fun. Here, a Caprese salad gets a low-sodium twist with grill-friendly paneer in place of the usual, saltier mozzarella. Just thread everything on a stick, and then head to the barbie.

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This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

by in Food News, June 6, 2014

peach
In this week’s news: Taking the long view of the diets du jour; growing up on raw foods; and having a complicated relationship with diet soda.

Will Gluten-Free Go the Way of Fat-Free?
Gluten-free. Paleo. Vegan. According to an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times this week, someday we’ll likely look back on the current crop of diet trends with the same regret-slash-sheepishness we now view our fat-free binge of the 1980s and ’90s. (“Think of all the money and meals you wasted on fat-free ice cream and bone-dry chicken breasts that didn’t do you a lick of good,” writer David Sax admonishes us.) As the story points out, Jimmy Kimmel’s hit skit on gluten last month – featuring hilariously cringe-worthy responses from dieters who seem to shun gluten strictly for the cool quotient — perfectly capture our collective dietary cluelessness. But there are some winners out there: Fad diets appear to be big cash cows for food manufacturers, especially when they market products capitalizing on the nutrition words of the moment.

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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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The Chef’s Take: Corn, Summer Squash and Avocado Salad from Suzanne Goin

by in Chefs and Restaurants, June 4, 2014

corn salad

“Being a chef is strange,” says Suzanne Goin. “Throughout service, I taste a lot of food to make sure it tastes and looks right. So, I’m not really eating for pleasure most of the time. I’m eating what I need to for my job.”

Though Goin, who co-owns six Los Angeles eateries (Lucques and A.O.C. among them) and a wholesale bakery, rarely gets to eat strictly as her heart desires, sampling this sweet corn, summer squash, sliced avocado and watercress salad never feels like an occupational hazard. “I create salads that I want to eat all the time,” Goin says.

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Smoothie of the Month: Chocolate with Coconut and Mint

by in Amy's Whole Food Cooking, June 3, 2014

chocolate smoothie

Refreshing, ice-cold and perfectly sweet, this drink is actually more like a shake than a smoothie. Made with nut milk and coconut ice cream, it has all of the components of a classic shake but without the dairy — although the coconut ice cream is so rich and creamy, you would never know.

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What To Do When Food Gets Recalled?

by in Food News, Food Safety, June 2, 2014

paper plate and plastic utensils
With a number of sizable food recalls in recent news, it’s important to be aware of products that have been identified as posing a food safety risk and to know what to do when they are.

Recent Recalls
Walnuts and hummus dips were on the recent food recall hit list. Last month, Sherman Produce Company, based in St. Louis, voluntarily began recalling 241 cases of walnuts, after routine sampling of the product purchased by stores in Illinois and Missouri found traces of listeria. Also in May, Massachusetts food manufacturer Lansal Inc. (aka Hot Mama’s Foods) voluntarily pulled 14,860 pounds of their hummus in various retailers, including Target and Trader Joe’s. This was done after a single 10-ounce container tested positive for listeria.

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