Market Watch: Romanesco

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 19, 2017

Romanesco

With its florescent lime-green hue and funky spire-shaped florets, Romanesco looks a little like broccoli from another planet. In fact, its alien appearance earned it a cameo in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” (In one scene, Rey is shown biting into an apple studded with Romanesco florets, which drew commentary from famed astrophysicist and Star Wars fact-checker, Neil deGrasse Tyson.) In reality, this cruciferous veggie, sometimes referred to as Romanesco broccoli, is more closely related to cauliflower than broccoli. It’s also a bit crunchier with a milder, slightly nutty flavor. Though Romanesco has been on the menu in Italy since the 16th century, it didn’t make its debut in the United States until the late 90s. Until recently, it was found mostly at farmer’s markets. These days, however, you might spot it at your local supermarket during the fall and winter.

 

Romanesco Facts

Like other members of the Brassica family, including kale and cabbage, Romanesco is high in Vitamins C and K, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Romanesco is also particularly high in carotenoids and phytochemicals.

 

When buying Romanesco, choose heads that are bright in color. The stem should be firm, with no signs of wilting. Any attached leaves should be perky and crisp. Pick it up: it should feel dense and heavy for its size. Store it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a week. Read more

Fix Your Diet, Fix Your Sleep

by in Food News, February 18, 2017

You snooze, you win! Turns out eating sleep smart will deliver enough zzz’s to boost your immune system and shrink your stress. “Sleep is one of the first things I ask patients about,” explains Dr. Donielle Wilson, N.D. naturopathic doctor, certified nutrition specialist and author of the upcoming, A Natural Guide to Better Sleep, “because it tells me about their health and how well they’re holding up under stress.”

But a good night’s sleep — generally defined as 7.5 to 9 hours of uninterrupted slumber per night — can be elusive. Sure, caffeine and alcohol are known sleep disrupters, but your daily eating habits could also be sabotaging your shut-eye. Besides perfecting a bedtime routine (see below), here are Wilson’s top 5 ways to fix sleep issues by giving your diet an upgrade:

  • Balance your blood sugar level during the day, which affects your blood sugar balance while you sleep. If you eat large meals, infrequent meals and/or high sugar/carb meals (including bananas), especially near bedtime, you’re likely to wake up from blood sugar fluctuations.
  • Reduce inflammation in your body, which for many people means avoiding gluten and dairy. Inflammation can travel to the nervous system and cause symptoms from anxiety to insomnia.
  • Boost nutrient-dense foods high in sleep-friendly vitamins and minerals, including magnesium (nuts, seeds, fish, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate), B6 (salmon, beef, chicken, turkey, sweet potato, hazelnuts) and melatonin (cherries, pomegranate, cranberries, pineapple, oranges, tomatoes).
  • Ditch your sugar-filled, late-night treat for a non-dairy protein powder–fueled smoothie to break those sweet cravings.
  • Calm your nervous system with herbal teas like chamomile and lavender. Stress triggers a stress response involving stimulating cortisol and adrenaline, which leads to disrupted sleep patterns.

Read more

Make Whole-Grain Swaps to Burn Calories, Boost Metabolism

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, February 17, 2017


A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that people who replaced refined grains with 100-percent whole grains absorbed fewer calories from foods eaten with whole grains and burned more calories. These losses added up to a 100-calorie deficit per day, according to the Tufts University researchers who conducted this 8-week study.

While 100 calories might not sound like a lot, eating 100-percent whole grains consistently could add up to significant savings when spanning weeks, months and years. Losing 700 calories per week by cutting calories with a traditional weight loss plan, for example, could add up to nearly a pound of fat loss per month. A brisk 30-minute walk also burns 100 calories.

Eating intact whole grains like brown rice and steel-cut oats versus those that are ground or milled could potentially offer more calorie-saving benefits, the researchers hypothesized.

If you’re ready to up your whole-grain game, there are a few things to consider.

 

What 100% whole grain is

A whole grain has the germ and outer bran either still intact, as in the case of brown rice, or ground, like in 100-percent whole-wheat flour. The milling process of refined grains, however, removes the outer bran and germ. During this process, fiber, protein, and other important nutrients decrease. Oftentimes food manufacturers add nutrients back in another form, as is the case for white fluffy bread. Read more

Manly Burgers, Feminine Salads: Does Gender Affect Our Diets?

by in Food News, February 16, 2017

We all know the stereotypes: Men like red meat and hefty portions. Women like salads and eat modestly, picking delicately at their meals. Men like it spicy. Women like it sweet.

Fries or fruit on the side? Men, we imagine, may be more likely to choose the former, women the latter. Ditto when choosing between, say, wine or beer.

Whether or not there is intrinsic truth in these cultural preconceptions about gender and food, societal reinforcement of them may influence the decisions we make about what we eat, the Washington Post suggests. What’s more, the paper recently posited, given the body of research indicating that eating plant, rather than animal, proteins, is better for your health and longevity, that may not be great news for men.

One key issue may be the way different foods are marketed to men and women, the messages sent out via advertising and packaging, says Kerri-Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian and nutritionist who writes about food and health trends. Read more

5 Apps That Will Help You Eat Healthy

by in Food News, Healthy Tips, February 15, 2017

There are so many nutrition and fitness apps hitting the market that you just don’t know which to try. I set out to find some apps that may not be on your radar and are worthy of space on your smartphone.

 

HealthyOut

Cost: Free

There are now more options than ever for healthy eating when dining out. This app helps you find the best dishes at both chain and non-chain restaurants. Categories include heart healthy, high protein, lactose free, low calorie, low fat, vegetarian, vegan, and more. It’s a quick and easy way to sift through long menus to find choices that are better for you.

 

Food Intolerances

Cost: $5.99

If you have strict dietary intolerances or allergies, this app may be right for you. Those who have conditions like histamine intolerance, fructose malabsorption, sorbitol intolerance, gluten sensitivity or low FODMAP diet will likely find it a helpful tool. The database of hundreds of foods tells you if the food is allowable with the food sensitivity. A con of the app is that it categorizes all processed foods the same, such as a regular tomato sauce verses one that was created specifically to be low FODMAP-friendly. Read more

5 Pulses That Are Great For You

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, February 14, 2017

As a vegetarian dietitian, I eat a lot of pulses, the group of legumes that includes beans, lentils, dry peas and chickpeas. I top my salads with them, mix them into brownie batter, and bake them into casseroles. And while 2016 was the Year of Pulses, these superfoods continue to grow in popularity. Here are a few of my favorite pulses — which all happen to be great for you — plus some ideas for cooking with them.

 

Chickpeas

A half-cup serving of cooked chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) offer up about 7 grams of protein, or 15 percent of the daily value. They’re an excellent source of fiber and offer 13 percent of the daily value for iron. Use them to make a Chickpea Crust Pizza or a Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew—or bake them into a Spicy Baked Chickpeas dish. Reserve the aquafaba, or chickpea water, and use that to make a vegan meringue.

 

Black Beans

These beans are terrific in a Black Bean and Corn Salad. They’re versatile way beyond Mexican dishes—and make a great protein addition to Black Bean Brownies. A half-cup serving of the cooked beans offers close to 8 grams of fiber, providing 30 percent of the daily value. Black beans are a good source of protein and an excellent source of folate, a nutrient of particular importance during pregnancy.

 

Lentils

There are many types of lentils, including green, French green, red, and black. Lentils are one of the highest-protein beans, boasting almost 9 grams, or 18 percent of the daily value, per half-cup serving of cooked beans, as well as about 8 grams of fiber. They’re also a good source of blood-pressure-helping potassium. Have them in a Lentil Soup, as Cilantro Lentils, or in an Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes dish. Read more

The Only Ways Nutritionists Will Eat a Bagel

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, February 12, 2017

Think nutritionists don’t eat carb-filled bagels? Think again! As all foods fit into a healthy eating plan — in moderation, of course — I got the inside scoop (pun intended!) on how 9 nutritionists from around the country love make eating bagels part of their well-balanced diet.

The Scoopers

“When I eat bagels (which are not often) I definitely scoop them! By getting rid of the dough, I am saving some extra calories. I always order whole wheat for added fiber and put some almond butter and a little all-natural jelly on it. It’s a yummy, satisfying and filling!”

Ilyse Schapiro MS, RDN, co-author of “Should I Scoop Out My Bagel”

 

“My usual bagel choice is a whole wheat everything bagel. Once sliced, I pull out the inside doughy part, which eliminates some of the bread but gives room to add a lot of good vegetables and protein. First I put on some cream cheese, followed by capers and crumbled hard-boiled egg – the “moat” keeps all these goodies in and the cream cheese sort of locks them in place. Then on top I put lox, sliced tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers. Voila! A bagel full of great protein and vegetables. Other good additions or swaps include grated carrots, vegetable cream cheese, and peppers.” 

–Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN, is a New York City-based registered dietitian and chef and owner of Culinary Nutrition Cuisine.

 

“I’m a bagel scooper. I’d much rather have room for extra filling and balance my meal to feature fewer carbs. I start with a whole wheat or oat bran bagel, truly because I prefer the taste as well as the nutritional boost. My fave is a bit of veggie cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomato, onion and a small amount of whitefish salad if it’s available.”

–Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, owner of Nutrition Starring YOU. Read more

What Nutritionists Feed Their Pets

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, February 11, 2017

Since nutritionists are very particular which foods they put into their bodies, I was curious to find out what these healthy food aficionados feed their beloved pets. So I talked to 11 nutrition experts from around the country, and was quite surprised what they feed their four-legged friends.

 

 “I cook for everyone else in the house, and our beloved pooch is no exception. I mix foods like roasted chicken, scrambled eggs, and canned tuna along with her food. I’ve created a bit of a monster, but she’s the best dog in the world.”

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, FoodNetwork.com Healthy Eats contributor and owner of Dana White Nutrition.

Four-legged family member: dog Violet Pickles

 

 “Bulldogs are GASSY, which means paying a ton of money for food is worth it because it helps suppress the gas. We always know when he’s been eating table scraps fed to him by my 3 year old. He doesn’t have to say a word but we know…”

Holley Grainger, MS, RD 

Four-legged family member: Winston the bulldog Read more

5 Reasons Why Beer (Yes, Beer!) is Good For You

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, February 10, 2017

1. Beer is portioned controlled

Unlike mixed drinks and heavy-handed pours of wine, beer comes in a ready to drink container. Knowing that each can or bottle has an average minimum calorie count of 100 per serving can help keep you honest about how much you’re sipping. Savvy beer drinks drinkers also know to keep an eye on the percent alcohol by volume (% APV) the higher it is, the more calories in your brew.

 

2. Beer is filled with antioxidants.

Thanks to staple ingredients like barley and hops, beer boasts a plethora of cell-protecting antioxidants. Since each beer recipe is different, your brew of choice may also be made with various fruits, herbs and spices, all of which can bring more antioxidants to the party.

 

3. Beer can be heart healthy

There’s ample research to support that moderate alcohol consumption (that’s one 12-fluid ounce drink per day for women and two for men) can have a positive impact on heart health. This certainly doesn’t warrant an initiative to drink EVERY day of the week, but it can make you feel a little better about hitting up happy hour or kicking back after a long day with a cold one. Read more

Exercise May Not Only Make You Fitter, But Happier Too

by in Fitness, February 9, 2017

Those of us who (try to) exercise regularly often do so with our weight or overall health in mind. Both great reasons, obviously. But there’s another benefit to staying active: It could make you a happier person.

“Exercise on a regular basis can keep your mood elevated,” says Ramona Braganza, a fitness expert and celebrity trainer whose clients have included, among others, Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson, Zac Efron and Ryan Reynolds. “Mood swings don’t occur as much, and overall wellness is achieved when balance takes place in the body.”

Exercise’s mood-boosting benefits were recently underscored by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England, who asked more than 10,000 study participants to track their happiness and physical activity using a specially developed smartphone app. The participants’ self-reported activity data (the researchers asked them what activities they were engaged in the last 15 minutes) was then tracked against information collected directly from built-in activity monitors (accelerometers) on their phones.

At the end of the 17-month-long study, published in the journal PLoS One, the researchers concluded that people who are more physically active are happier than those who are less active. “We found that, regardless of whether we looked at self-reported physical activity or physical activity sensed via the accelerometer on their phones, people who were on average more active were also on average happier,” says study co-author Gillian M. Sandstrom, Ph.D., who contributed to the work as a postdoctoral research assistant at Cambridge and is now a lecturer at the University of Essex. Read more