Nutrition News: Foods We Crave, GMO Labeling, Light and Obesity

by in Food News, August 5, 2016

Can’t eat just one …
We eat in hopes of satisfying our hunger, but some foods actually do the opposite, activating areas in our brain and gut that stir our desire for more. “The sight, smell, or taste of some food will trigger the cephalic food response,” Dr. Belinda Lennerz, an endocrinologist affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told Time. The news magazine’s website fingers nine foods that create, rather than curb, cravings. They are … processed carbs like 1) potato chips, 2) crackers and 3) bread; sugary foods like 4) cookies, 5) cake and 6) sweets; easy-to-swallow foods like 7) low-fat, single-serve yogurt; and 8) diet drinks and 9) artificially sweetened snack foods. Read more

7 Summer Dishes That Aren’t Complete Without Basil

by in Healthy Recipes, August 4, 2016

It’s that time of year when basil is abundant everywhere we turn, from our own herb gardens to top restaurants’ menus. We’re finding the fragrant green leaves torn and mixed with salad greens, muddled at the bottom of highball glasses, blended into ice cream and pulsed with garlic, Parmesan and pine nuts until a fragrant pesto sauce comes into being. Part of the beauty of this leafy summer herb is its approachability; in other words, you don’t need to be a trained chef in order to dream up some creative takes on it. If you’re like us and keep a fresh bundle in a vase on your countertop all season long, waiting for the perfect excuse to snip off a few leaves, then you just found a reason to celebrate. Here are seven in-season (and healthy!) dishes that just won’t suffice without basil.

Bruschetta
In its purest form, this rustic summer appetizer consists of toasted baguette slices topped with an ample scoop of chopped tomatoes, garlic, onions and basil. A snack this simple is only as good as its ingredients, so splurge on the freshest produce you can find — especially the basil, which makes a gorgeous leafy topper for each neatly portioned bite in Giada De Laurentiis’ Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Bruschetta recipe.

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Cajun Rice Salad with Shrimp and Okra

by in Healthy Recipes, August 3, 2016

Okra is a staple in what has become “trendy” — good ol’ Southern cooking. But let’s be blunt: Can you get past the slimy texture?

If the answer is yes, then you will have one of the very best vegan thickeners around. The thick, viscous liquid (slime!) that’s produced when the carbohydrates and proteins in okra pods are cooked is known as mucilage. It thickens Creole stews and gumbos, as well as Indian curries. When classically stewed with tomatoes, all the textures melt together into a pot of Southern “love.”

Or, to preserve its snappy texture, okra is often pickled. It’s also virtually slime-free when grilled, which also adds smoky flavors that pair well with peppers and spicy chiles.

Okra isn’t hard to cook, but there are a few tricks. In this salad, okra is cooked quickly to keep it from becoming mushy, yet long enough to release the natural thickeners that help form a salad dressing and keep the rice moist. In terms of nutrition, okra is high in fiber, with 2 grams per half-cup serving; it is also rich in potassium, folate, magnesium, and vitamins C and K.

If you can find fresh okra — which is season right now at farmers markets — buy a batch. Look for small okra, no longer than about 4 inches. Snack on them raw, and use them as a surprising addition to a crudite platter.Frozen okra is also perfect in this salad. The frozen version makes this salad an easy side come autumn and tailgating parties; it’s also a quick, convenient dinner salad for any time of year. Read more

Why You Need Iron

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, August 2, 2016

Iron is a mineral that’s a building block of proteins and enzymes. It’s essential for many functions, including moving oxygen around the body. Yet many people have iron deficiency. Find out what iron is, how much you need and why the right amount is important.

What Is Iron?
Iron is the most-abundant mineral on earth. In humans, 70 percent of iron is found in red blood cells as part of hemoglobin and in muscle cells as myoglobin. Hemoglobin shuttles oxygen around the body, whereas myoglobin receives the oxygen and brings it to energy-producing mitochondria.

The Two Kinds of Iron
There are two kinds of iron: heme and nonheme. Heme is more easily absorbed by the body, but it’s found only in animal foods, including meat, poultry and fish — it makes up about half of the iron in those foods; the other half is nonheme. Nonheme iron is also found in eggs and plant-based foods, including beans, dried fruits, some vegetables and fortified foods.

How Much Iron Do You Need?
The recommended daily allowance is 8 milligrams per day for men and postmenopausal women, 18 milligrams per day for premenopausal women and 27 milligrams per day for pregnant women. Read more

5-Ingredient Grilled Halibut Pouches with Corn and Tomatoes

by in 5-Ingredient Recipes, Healthy Recipes, Uncategorized, August 1, 2016

There’s something particularly appealing about tossing aluminum-foil pouches on the grill: The simplicity. Memories from camping. No messy pan or counter cleanup! Possibilities exist beyond chicken and potatoes, like halibut. Fresh Alaskan halibut is in peak season late spring through early fall. When cooked properly, halibut is moist and “creamy,” yet light. Halibut is a good source of potassium and contributes roughly an entire day’s requirement (300 to 500 milligrams) of the Omega-3s EPA and DHA, which are recommended by the World Health Organization due to their protective benefits against coronary heart disease and stroke.

Corn adds more staying power to this dish with a light balance of complex carbs to round it out. And let’s not forget that corn counts as a vegetable, too. The juices from the corn, halibut and tomatoes simmer into a flavorful broth that you’ll find yourself sipping with a spoon. Next time you’re thinking about cooking fish for dinner, elevate your senses with these juicy halibut pouches. Read more

Summer Squash and More in this Week’s CSA Box

by in In Season, July 31, 2016

This week’s CSA (community-supported agriculture) box arrived at Food Network Kitchen stuffed with fresh summer produce, and we couldn’t be more excited to start cooking! Fresh summer squash was the real star of our box, with multiple varieties making an appearance. The seasonal offering has been popping up on restaurant menus everywhere, and now, with plenty in our kitchen thanks to Mountain View Farms, we can enjoy the tender vegetable in crisp salads, cold soups and more.

While unpacking our box, like many of you at home, we started to wonder what separates the pattypans from the zucchini of the world. Do they all deserve the same culinary treatment? After doing some quick research, we identified the two varietals of squash in our box as zucchini and zephyr (the two-toned one) squash.

Zucchini has a habit of growing … and growing … and growing, but don’t be tempted to set any world records with your squash. The best zucchini are small, firm and have a mild taste and moderately tender flesh — just like the one in our box. To use your squash, pull out your spiralizer to make a noodle substitute, or toss it in a pan with olive for a quick saute at dinner. Read more

Tips for Exercising in the Heat

by in Fitness, July 30, 2016

Don’t let the summertime heat and humidity ruin your exercise enthusiasm. Following these simple rules to help make outdoor workouts a success.

The Risks

Feeling the burn in hot conditions can increase your risk for injury, dehydration and heat illness. Issues can range from minor fatigue and muscle cramping to a more serious case of heat exhaustion. The worst-case scenario is a condition referred to as heat stroke, where the body loses the ability to cool itself. (This is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.) The good news is you can protect yourself by following these five rules.

Rule #1: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Around-the-clock hydration is imperative for folks who exercise multiple days a week. Water is ideal for moderate activity, but consider choosing a sports drink with calories and electrolytes for more vigorous activities lasting longer than 60 minutes. The American Academy of Sports Medicine recommends 8 to 12 fluid ounces of water 10 to 15 minutes before exercise and 3 to 8 fluid ounces every 15 to 20 minutes for workouts less than 60 minutes. For guidelines on longer-duration workouts, visit the American College of Sports Medicine website or download the Selecting and Effectively Using Hydration for Fitness brochure. Read more

Nutrition News: Healthy Food Pairings, Subsidized Obesity, Small Meals Overrated

by in Food News, July 29, 2016

Underwriting obesity
Is the American government underwriting your weakness for junk food? A new study appears to confirm what health advocates have been saying for a while: that federally subsidized crops — corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, milk and meat — are key ingredients in the foods that account for the most calories in the American diet, fueling the U.S. obesity crisis. At the very top of that list, The New York Times reports, are “grain-based desserts like cookies, doughnuts and granola bars.” Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that people who consumed the most federally subsidized foods were 37 percent more likely to be obese, the Times notes, and were “significantly more likely to have belly fat, abnormal cholesterol, and high levels of blood sugar and CRP, a marker of inflammation.” The study’s authors say they hope their findings help policy makers re-examine how they allocate subsidies. Read more

How Do We Love Watermelon? Let Us Count the Ways

by in Healthy Recipes, July 28, 2016

There are few summer pastimes more satisfying than nibbling a cool slice of watermelon right down to the rind. And while we completely support enjoying the juicy, low-calorie pink fruit in its raw, unadulterated form, we can also get behind soups, salads and desserts that highlight its incredible range and versatility. From sweet shaved ice to spicy watermelon gazpacho, here are seven fresh uses for that ripe watermelon chilling in your fridge.

Gingery Watermelon Petit Fours
Looking for a lighter alternative to quench your after-dinner sweet tooth? Try dousing juicy watermelon squares in a ginger syrup, then letting the watermelon soak for a few hours before topping each square with a dollop of honey-laced cream cheese.

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Market Watch: Basil

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, July 27, 2016

Fresh herbs are flourishing at the local markets. Head out and grab some basil to make these exciting and unexpected recipes.

Basil Facts
Basil is rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C, plus it contains phytochemicals — good-for-you plant-based compounds. Since you probably don’t eat cups of herbs at a time, using small amounts daily in a wide range of recipes allows for the nutrients to stack up.

Basil options are more diverse than you might think. Look for beautiful bouquets of common varieties like “sweet” or “Christmas” for tomato sauce and salads. Try cinnamon basil on fruit salad or spicy Thai basil with noodle and rice dishes. The deep-purple leaves of opal basil make a showstopping pesto or pizza topper.

What to Do with Basil
Basil can be stored like flowers in a small glass of water on the counter for a couple of days. You can also store leaves loosely wrapped in a plastic bag with some paper towels in the veggie drawer of the fridge.

Stack those aromatic leaves on sandwiches, toss them into salad greens, or mash them into hummus, pesto and guacamole. Basil can also be used for dessert, incorporated into frozen treats like sorbet and ice pops. Read more