3 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts

by in Cookies & Other Desserts, Healthy Holidays, Healthy Recipes, November 18, 2016

Truth: Thanksgiving can be stressful—if you let the multicourse holiday feast rule you. We’re convinced the day will be better if you actually have time to enjoy your guests and your showstopping meal, including dessert. This year, we’re cooking up dessert at least one day ahead of the big day. No reason to wait to make these healthy-but-no-one-will-ever-know-it, rich desserts that’ll deliver sweet success.

Pumpkin Tiramisu with Gingersnap Crunch
Serves 16

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup maple sugar
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups chilled dairy-free coconut or almond creamer
4 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature
One 7-ounce package ladyfinger cookies
1 1/2 cups freshly brewed espresso, at room temperature
Gingersnaps, coarsely crushed, for sprinkling

In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat in the pumpkin, vanilla, pumpkin spice and salt until smooth, about 2 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the creamer until it holds soft peaks; gradually beat in the mascarpone and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the whipped mascarpone cream until just combined.
Submerge each ladyfinger into the cooled espresso and line the bottom of a 9-inch square glass baking pan. Spread half of pumpkin filling on top; sprinkle with gingersnap crumbs. Repeat with the remaining ladyfingers and pumpkin filling. Chill, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Make-Ahead Tip: You can make the tiramisu up to 2 days ahead of time; store in the refrigerator. To serve, sprinkle gingersnap crumbs over it.

Per serving: Calories 120.1; Fat 6.5 g (Saturated 2.9 g); Cholesterol 99.1 mg; Sodium 74.2 mg; Carbohydrate 13.8 g; Fiber 0.4 g; Sugars 4.0 g; Protein 2.65 g Read more

7 Lighter Takes on Essential Thanksgiving Sides

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Recipes, Thanksgiving, November 17, 2016

Is there anything more necessary than a generous scoop of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving? A slice of hot buttered cornbread is nice, too. Some would even say it’s the green bean casserole that really makes the meal special. Personal preferences aside, we can all agree that the sides are the best part of Thanksgiving — next to the smorgasbord of pie, of course. And since we only get to enjoy this celebratory feast one day each year, why not dig in to the indulgent dishes that are so representative of the holiday?

Then again, if you plan on having a lot of leftovers, you could be enjoying these dishes for a few days (or an entire week) after Thanksgiving has passed. That’s incentive to throw some healthier options into the mix. Here are the classic, comforting sides we all long for, with a few alterations to make each one less of a splurge. As it turns out, your healthiest Thanksgiving could be your most-traditional yet.

Mashed Potatoes (pictured above)
Food Network Kitchen prepares these Mock Mashed Potatoes using cauliflower in place of traditional Yukon Golds, which results in a creamy mash that will have everyone at the table fooled. Garlic and thyme add flavor depth while nonfat Greek yogurt and a little Parmesan bring in some dairy richness and tang.

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Feeling Hangry? The Science Behind Gut Health and Mood

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, November 16, 2016

Gut health is a trending topic, but the ins and outs of the microbiome are still mysteries to many eaters. Research presented at the recent Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Boston helps explain how diet can affect brain function. 

Gut Health

Making smart dietary choices to promote a healthy environment in the intestines (or “gut”) involves boosting beneficial bacteria. Keeping your gut heavily populated with good bacteria allows for optimal nutrient absorption, immune function and reduced risk of disease; it may also help your mental health. Eating foods that motivate healthy bacteria to flourish (aka prebiotics) and good-for-you microorganisms (aka probiotics) will help ensure a happy and healthy microbiome.  Read more

A Nutritionist’s Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Tips, November 15, 2016

I’ve traveled a lot lately, and have even set a new personal record with over a dozen plane rides thus far this year. I’ve been in airports with lots of options, and in others with surprisingly few — and figured out what’s worth buying and what’s a must-pack snack. Plan ahead by using my tips to BYO and make smart on-the-fly buys.

Pack small liquid-y snacks. Creamy snacks like yogurt and applesauce count as liquids or gels when you’re going through security, so buy them in snack-size containers smaller than 3.4 ounces, or pack your own in leakproof containers.

Try it: GoGo Squeez Strawberry Yogurtz, Mott’s Snack & Go Natural Applesauce, 2-ounce OXO Good Grips Mini LockTop Container

Scout a healthy breakfast. Omelets and oatmeal are good go-tos. Many terminals have Starbucks, which offers an oatmeal with little added-sugar — that is, if you skip the brown sugar packet that comes with it (the dried cranberries and cherries are already sweetened with a little sugar). Mix in the packet of nuts, then add a sprinkle of cinnamon. If you prefer fresh fruit, swap the dried fruit for a side of blueberries or a banana. Read more

8 Healthy Food Trends to Look For in 2017

by in Food News, Trends, November 13, 2016

This year’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo took place in Boston, where I got a firsthand view of the latest foods that you’ll be seeing at your local market. Here’s the inside scoop on eight of these trends.

Pea Protein
The hottest trend in protein comes from pea powder. Bob’s Red Mill sells Pea Protein Powder to add to smoothies, shakes and baked goods. It contains 21 grams of protein per serving and is gluten-free. Earth Balance has also released a Protein Peanut Blend, which is a combo of peanuts and pea protein. It provides 180 calories and 9 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving.

Healthier Vending Machines
PepsiCo showcased its new innovative vending machine at the conference. Hello Goodness (pictured above) is a temperature-controlled vending machine that offers healthier on-the-go snack foods like Smartfood Delight Popcorn, Sabra Ready-to-Eat Hummus Cups and Quaker Real Medley Bars. On the machine is a touchscreen that allows customers to find product nutrition info, food and beverage pairing suggestions, and an Apple Pay option. Several thousand of these machines have been placed in select health care, recreational, transportation, governmental, workplace and educational facilities.

FODMAP Foods
The FODMAP diet trend, though created for those with irritable bowel syndrome, has grown in mainstream popularity. Fody is a company that has created FODMAP-approved products, including marinara sauce, salsa and BBQ sauce. Read more

A New Lawsuit Asks: Is Naked Juice As Healthy As It Seems?

by in Food News, November 12, 2016

It’s hard not to feel virtuous after downing a bottle of vegetable juice — like Naked Juice’s Kale Blazer. After all, it’s packed with nothing but leafy green goodness, right? Well, not exactly. In fact, the first ingredient in Kale Blazer is orange juice, and the third is apple juice. Which means that, even though neither of those fruits is pictured on the label, together, orange and apple juice make up a significant portion of the so-called green blend.

And that’s exactly why food industry watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has recently filed a class-action lawsuit against PepsiCo (which owns Naked Juice) claiming that the company is misrepresenting the products’ ingredient profiles. The lawsuit alleges that consumers are being duped into paying high prices for premium, nutrient-rich ingredients — like kale, acai berries, mango and blueberries — when they’re really getting mostly inexpensive and not-as-nutritious orange and apple juices. Read more

9 Recipes for Hot Toddy Season

by in Healthy Recipes, November 11, 2016

’Tis the season to cozy up with warm bevvies. But be careful: Many drinks are liquid calorie traps, as calories and sugar can get out of control. Enjoy these hot toddies for under 300 calories per serving.

Nonalcoholic

Mulled Cider (pictured above)
Mixing apple cider with cinnamon, allspice and cloves makes a delicious toddy that’s low in calories.

Ginger Spiced Hot Cocoa
There’s nothing better than a warming cup of hot cocoa on a cold day, especially with a touch of soothing ginger.

Orange Tea with Honey
Flavor your everyday tea with orange and lemon peels, which add a bright dose of cold-fighting vitamin C. Read more

7 Healthy Ways to Turn Carrots Into Cake

by in Healthy Recipes, November 10, 2016

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means our opportunities for sampling fresh baked goods are about to quadruple. If you’re choosing between a mammoth slice of cake festooned with buttery frosting and a modest piece of carrot cake, the carrot cake is clearly the better choice. Carrots are in peak season right now, and when used in baking, this vivid orange vegetable offers wonderful texture and natural sweetness. Still, the usual embellishments — chopped nuts, dried fruit, cream cheese frosting — all present opportunities for refined sugar and added fat to sneak in. So whether you prefer your carrots in cake, cupcake or muffin form, follow these six tips for turning your favorite carrot desserts into health-minded fall treats.

Use Whole-Wheat Flour
Whole-wheat pastry flour and pumpkin pie spice add great nutty flavor to Food Network Kitchen’s rustic Carrot Cake, while buttermilk and grated carrots keep the batter extra moist. Confectioners’ sugar and reduced-fat cream cheese yield a still-sweet, still-tangy frosting for very few extra calories.

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Sneaky Ways to Get Vitamin D

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, November 9, 2016

During this overcast time of year, the sunshine vitamin isn’t so easy to get. Adults need 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily. But many Americans (specifically, 3 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 12 percent of Mexican-Americans and 31 percent of non-Hispanic blacks) aren’t getting enough, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vitamin D is important for muscle and bone strength, immunity and more — and come July 2018, a food’s vitamin D content will be listed on its label. Until then, this handy guide to food sources will help you get your daily requirement.

1 egg (41 IU): Earlier this year, the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans gave us clearance to eat the whole egg, waving away concerns that the cholesterol in the yolk affects blood levels of cholesterol. So it’s good news that an egg’s vitamin D is in the yolk: A large egg contains about 7 percent of your daily need.

1 cup cremini mushrooms (3 IU): This amount will increase a lot, to 1,110 IU, when the mushrooms are grown while exposed to ultraviolet rays. UV-grown shrooms are usually listed as such on the label. Read more

Fitness at Every Age

by in Fitness, November 7, 2016

Many things about the body change with age, and our nutrition and exercise needs are no exception. Certain types of food and exercise can optimize health from decade to decade, so a little know-how may help you avoid illness and injury. Use these tips to help stay fit at any age.

20s
Your 20-something years are all about establishing good habits. As grown-up responsibilities begin to set in, the stress of joining the workforce, paying bills and possibly even getting married can take up a lot of time and attention. Make your health and fitness a priority by eating less takeout, getting enough fruits and veggies, and setting up a consistent exercise regimen.

30s
The sad truth is that your metabolism begins to slow down when you’re in your 30s. Eating consistent meals and choosing healthy, balanced snacks like vegetables and hummus can help keep energy levels high and prevent overeating. It’s also a great time to increase cardiovascular exercise to help promote heart health. Kara Lydon, registered dietitian, yoga teacher and author of the Nourish Your Namaste e-book recommends taking your yoga practice to the next level. She says: “People in their 30s should take advantage of their strength and stamina to learn more challenging poses like inversions, arm balances and back bends … it’s also important to adopt a restorative yoga practice during this decade. Restorative yoga (supported poses held for long periods of time) will help the practitioner to feel more grounded, calm and relaxed amidst a number of life transitions.” Read more