Baobab: The Superfruit with the Silly Name

by in Have You Tried, June 7, 2016

It looks and sounds like something out a Dr. Seuss book, but the baobab is as serious as it gets when it comes to health benefits and nutritional bang. Native to the African savannah, the baobab tree is often called “the tree of life” because for centuries locals utilized all of its parts to create food, beverages, medicines, and fibers to weave ropes and mats. But the baobab had become undervalued by Africans who saw it as a famine food, and the fruit was virtually unknown to the rest of the world. Read more

Spring Onion and Parmesan Whole-Wheat Scones

by in Healthy Recipes, June 6, 2016

The green onion is often sprinkled on dishes as a garnish — as an afterthought. But in these tender, buttery scones, spring onions shine. They add the freshness of herbs, but are not too delicate to stand up to hearty whole-wheat flour.

The terms “scallion,” “spring onion” and “green onion” are basically interchangeable for recipe use. However, if you find what are labeled “spring onions” at a farmers market, grab them. When locally grown and freshly harvested, spring onions have a flavor that is fresher and slightly sharper than that of those pencil-thin green onions available in produce sections year-round. Use only the fresh green leaves in these scones — and save the white parts of the spring onion for adding snappy crunch to sandwiches.

In terms of nutrition, all onions contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant. And phytochemicals in onions known as allyl sulfides may reduce the risk of some cancers and have been found to increase heart health. Read more

Is There Any Health Benefit to Enhanced Waters?

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, June 5, 2016

You know it’s important to drink plenty of water. Not only does this naturally zero-calorie beverage help hydrate the 60 percent of you that is water, but it’s vital for keeping your energy levels up and your organs in working order. But are there any added benefits to the enhanced waters on the market? Let’s take a look.

Alkaline Water/Ionized Water
Alkaline water refers to water that has a higher pH than regular or filtered tap water. It can be naturally alkaline (such as most mineral waters) or created by using an ionizer. Advocates of alkaline water say the typical Western diet makes our bodies acidic and that drinking alkaline water is one way to get your body to an optimum pH. Some studies have supported a benefit to alkaline water. A 2009 study out of Switzerland suggested drinking alkaline mineral water could help preserve bone density. These ideas are intriguing, but the body of research is pretty small at this point, so take it with a grain of salt. Read more

Vegan Food Trend: Aquafaba

by in Food News, Trends, June 4, 2016

The United Nations declared 2016 the “International Year of the Pulses.” Pulses include dry beans, peas, lentils and garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). Another trendy theme this year is reducing food waste. If you put both of those together, you get aquafaba, or the liquid used to soak beans. Instead of tossing it, try using it in some of these creative ways.

The History Behind Aquafaba
One of the main uses for aquafaba is as a replacement for eggs. Although prunes, applesauce and beans have been used to replace whole eggs, and egg substitutes like Bob’s Red Mill and Ener-G have been available for years, they don’t always do the exact job some recipes need, specifically meringues. Plus, some of the store-bought egg substitutes are costly. Read more

Nutrition News: Unhealthy Behavior, Evaporated Cane Juice and Vegan Diets

by in Food News, June 3, 2016

What’s in a name?

Sugar by any other name would still taste as sweet. “Evaporated cane juice” may sound a lot healthier than “sugar,” but the Food and Drug Administration has decided it’s really the same thing. The agency has just released guidelines advising food companies to avoid using the term “evaporated cane juice” on labels and instead use the term “sugar,” which it has concluded is more accurate. (The FDA says it’s OK to modify it — as in “organic cane sugar” — as long as the word “sugar” is somewhere in there, NPR’s The Salt reports.) Food blogger Marion Nestle hailed the decision, telling The Salt: “Sugar is sugar, no matter what it is called. Now the FDA needs to do this with all the other euphemisms.” Suh-weet! Read more

6 Ways to Never Tire of Grilled Chicken

by in Healthy Recipes, June 2, 2016

Summer’s celebratory tenor is best evinced by near-weekly cookout invitations. But as our social calendars fill out, so, too, could our hips. Nothing is more disruptive to a healthy eating regimen than encountering an ice cream sundae station or a heaping plate of barbecued spareribs weekend after weekend. Our solution? Lean, smoky, protein-packed grilled chicken. It’s easily our best bet when it comes to light summer dining. The only problem is that the humble grilled poultry tends to get, well … a little boring. In truth, it’s not the chicken’s fault. If your go-to preparation method involves throwing some chicken on the grill after a quick dunk in store-bought barbecue sauce, then it’s time to switch up your technique. All it takes is a flavorful sauce, glaze or rub to invigorate this simple dish. Here are six ideas to kick-start a season of healthy summer grilling.

Go Bold with Garnish
While traditional chicken cordon bleu is coated with eggs and breadcrumbs, and then fried, Bobby Flay grills the meat for a lighter dish that still gives you leeway to top it with salty prosciutto and melted Brie.

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Baked Chicken Fajita Naan Pizza

by in Healthy Recipes, June 1, 2016

Although I normally have a “game plan” when it comes to the specific meals I’ll be enjoying throughout the week, there are days when I come home from work and feel like going rogue. Whether or not you are a meal planner, having an arsenal of foolproof recipes you can effortlessly whip up in minutes is key to eating healthfully even on the busiest days. For me, flatbread pizza is one of them. It can be simple or elaborate, depending on what ingredients I have on hand, because running out to the grocery store is the last thing I want to do on a weeknight. Something tells me that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Starting with the crust, you can go minimal with just a drizzle of oil or some tomato sauce, pesto, BBQ sauce, hummus or whatever you’re craving at the moment. As for the toppings, the sky’s the limit. It’s a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet while cleaning out the fridge at the same time. Read more

Fattoush Salad with Grilled Chicken

by in Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipes, May 31, 2016

I’m a sucker for a pretty salad — like this Fattoush Salad with Grilled Chicken with a lemony, herb-flecked vinaigrette. Have you heard of fattoush before? If not, you’re in for a delicious treat!

The traditional fattoush salad, which originated in the Middle East, is a flavorful combination of fried or toasted pita bread mixed with fresh seasonal herbs and vegetables. Therein lies its versatility, as you can easily add your own spin of creativity with your favorite herbs, vegetables, bread and other healthy toppings.

Grilled chicken adds a boost of lean protein to my version, and for those of you like myself who can’t eat gluten, I’ve swapped the pita for gluten-free pizza crust. Mix in some crisp bell peppers and cucumbers tossed with arugula and fresh Italian parsley, and top it all off with creamy feta cheese and lemon-oregano vinaigrette for a delicious and nourishing one-bowl meal.

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Eddie Jackson’s Easy Summer Party Plan

by in Chefs and Restaurants, Grilling, May 30, 2016

Manning the grill at a summer party is a tough job: Flipping a bunch of burgers, shuffling space for veggies and (of course) running back to the kitchen because you forgot cheese can eat into your time with guests. To avoid this scenario, we suggest you take a page from Eddie Jackson’s grilling “playbook.” As a Food Network Star winner (not to mention former NFL player, food truck owner and personal trainer), Eddie aims to create recipes that are healthy and delicious — but he knows that ease is a key ingredient, too.

And Eddie’s grilling menu really is super-savvy. He chose a crowd-pleasing flank steak that can feed the whole party, roasted potatoes that don’t require much attention while they cook and a simple salad to round out the meal. Watch the entire thing come together in the video above, and you’ll instantly feel prepared to entertain friends all season long.

Of course, Eddie’s armed with “playbooks” for many other occasions, too — check out his healthy habits plan and game-day party menu for even more inspiration.

How Local Can You Get? Bread  

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, May 29, 2016

Despite their unavoidable convenience factor, commercially baked breads often fall short when it comes to flavor and nutrition. Now that I’ve been sourcing local baked goods, I’ve all but given up on the grocery store bread aisle. Here are some tips to bring more local breads into your kitchen; you’ll support local businesses and get more nutritious options at the same time.

Homemade
Making your own bread isn’t really as difficult as it is time consuming. Budgeting time for the dough to rise (and then rise a second time) does take some getting used to, but the payoff is having complete control over the ingredients. A homemade recipe gives you the ability to lower the sodium and sugar content, while increasing the whole grains. From whole wheat to rye, sourdough to gluten-free breads — bakers’ catalogs offer a wide variety of ingredients and equipment to help bring out your inner baker. Instead of relying on only traditional yeast-leavened breads, add recipes for quick breads and pizza dough to your repertoire as well. Read more