7 Summer Slaws That Put the Store-Bought Stuff to Shame

by in Healthy Recipes, June 9, 2016

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from season after season of summer grilling, it’s that you should never underestimate the power of a good slaw to transform your meal. Crisp and cool, with a subtle vinegar kick, a fresh slaw can add great texture and flavor depth to almost any summer dish — tacos, burgers, and, most of all, pulled pork. On the other hand, if your slaw isn’t up to par, it can really drag a dish down. Pre-packaged coleslaw from the deli counter at your local grocery store may be convenient, but more often than not, you’re getting some wilted green cabbage swimming in a tub of watered-down mayonnaise and sugar. Next time you’re planning a picnic or cookout, try one of these healthy homemade slaws. We guarantee you’ll never go back to store-bought.

Fennel and Cabbage Slaw
Melissa d’Arabian combines purple cabbage with sweet, aromatic fennel and chopped bacon to create a crunchy and colorful summer slaw with just 1 gram of sugar per serving.

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Why Should We Care About Added Sugar?

by in Food News, June 9, 2016

The biggest buzz surrounding the revamped Nutrition Facts label recently unveiled at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit is the news that added sugars (not just total sugars) will be required on food packaging. “‘Added sugar’ means anything that’s used to sweeten a product beyond any sugars that occur naturally in that food,” explains Libby Mills, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And once that info is on the label in black and white, you’ll no longer be able to kid yourself into thinking added sugars are found only in sweets, sodas and baked goods. “Sugar is added to a variety of ‘healthy’ foods — including salad dressing, tomato sauce, soups, breads and yogurt,” says Mills. “Places you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find it.”

The problem with added sugar is that it’s basically adding empty calories to whatever you’re eating. “You’re getting the calories without much nutrition to go with it,” says Mills. “And that can contribute to weight gain, tooth decay, diabetes and numerous other health issues. The American Heart Association guidelines call for no more than six teaspoons a day of added sugar for women and nine for men. Read more

Superfood Energy Balls

by in Healthy Recipes, Vegan, June 8, 2016

For an energy-packed treat, try these Superfood Energy Balls made with protein-rich nuts and seeds, naturally sweetened dates, and a little almond butter to bind them together. With only eight ingredients and 10 minutes of prep, you can have a portable, healthy snack option in just minutes! Ever since I realized how easy it was to DIY snacks like these, I’ve been doing so with gusto. I love knowing exactly what’s going into my snacks, and saving money in the process is a bonus.

These energy balls are a spinoff of my superfood granola bars, brought to you in bite-size form. They’re the perfect summer snack to tuck into your bag whenever you need a little fuel, whether that’s on an outdoor hike or simply lounging by the pool. The secret to these moist, hearty balls is the use of dates instead of other sweeteners. For this recipe I prefer Medjool dates, which are usually found in the fruit, dried fruit or bulk section of your grocery store. If your dates aren’t soft, soak them in warm water for 10 minutes before using. The pit should be easy to pop out; dates that are too hard can make these balls difficult to form. As a special ingredient, I’ve included a bit of maca powder, which is known to help increase stamina and energy levels, and is similar in taste to chocolate. If you can’t find maca at your grocery store, feel free to substitute unsweetened cocoa powder. Read more

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