Tomato yogurt is a thing? You betcha. You may have noticed the yogurt aisle leaning more savory, with veggie-based yogurts, thick and tangy ethnic yogurts, and sheep’s milk yogurt taking up real estate in the dairy section. These yogurts offer essential protein and are loaded with calcium (good for those of us over 40). Another bonus: When you subtract the fruit, you’re not only looking at lower sugar content but endless ways to incorporate the creamy stuff into your dishes. From marinades to toppers, salads and spreads, savory yogurts are a great cooking shortcut, recipe substitute or snack. Here are three brands that are worth taking a closer look at.
In this week’s news: Study links living thinner with living longer; farmed salmon may be losing its Omega-3 bragging rights; and vitamin D is vital for body and mind.
Shed Pounds, Gain Years?
Put down the sugar cookie. Stop gnawing on the gingerbread house. Go easy on the holiday ham. Obesity can take as much as eight years off your life expectancy, a new study led by researchers at McGill University in Canada has found. What’s more, excess weight also increases the risk for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease at a younger age, potentially reducing healthy years of life by almost two decades. “The pattern is clear — the more an individual weighs and the younger their age, the greater the effect on their health,” lead author Dr. Steven Grover, a clinical epidemiologist and professor of medicine at McGill, concluded. “In terms of life expectancy, we feel being overweight is as bad as cigarette smoking.”
Farmed Salmon’s Omega-3 Slide
We all know salmon is a wonderful source of Omega-3 fatty acids and lower in mercury than many other fish in the sea. But while farmed salmon has been hailed for being especially high in Omega-3s, those levels are declining. Due to eco-efforts to reduce the amount of forage fish such as anchovy, sardines and menhaden (all high in Omega-3s) in salmons’ feed, Civil Eats reports, “A piece of farmed salmon today may contain as little as half the amount of Omega-3s than it did a decade ago.” However, the site notes, “Even if today’s farmed salmon carries far less Omega-3 fatty acids than it once did, it’s now on par with wild salmon, and still packs more than species like tilapia, lobster and catfish.” So, you know, there’s that.
A Very Important Vitamin
Here are two more reasons to make sure you get enough vitamin D. A British study suggests vitamin D supplements may reduce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease lung disease (e.g., bronchitis, emphysema) flare-ups by more than 40 percent in patients deficient in vitamin D. The supplement was also found to reduce the severity and duration of flare-ups in all COPD patients, even those who did not already have a vitamin D deficiency. Another study, conducted by researchers at University of Georgia, University of Pittsburgh and Queensland University of Technology in Australia, has linked vitamin D deficiency with seasonal affective disorder, perhaps due to its involvement in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. “Vitamin D could have a regulative role in the development of SAD,” co-author Alan Stewart said. Fellow author Michael Kimlin noted that “there are strong indications that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D are … important for good mental health.”
Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.
A box of chocolates is sweet, indeed, but how ’bout getting a bit more creative (and healthful) with the holiday cheer this season. Check out these delicious, good-for-you mail order gifts that will delight your family and friends.
If you’re loathe to try your hand at yet another “great” fruitcake recipe this holiday season, you’re in luck. We’ve created four festive quickbread recipes that are perfect for the holidays. Wrap them up with a ribbon for the road, or keep them out on the counter for all-day snacking. The best part? You won’t be slaving away in the kitchen all day. When it comes to prep time, these quickbread recipes stay true to their name. Just pulse the ingredients in your food processor or stir them straight up in a bowl — no creaming butter necessary. Then, just let your oven do all the heavy lifting and enjoy these gluten-free quick breads that make the most of the season’s feel-good flavors.
“Local farmers literally come to our door, and they show us what they’re growing and teach us about all these cool new things,” said Ford Fry, the James Beard Foundation Award-nominated chef and restaurateur who heads acclaimed, locally focused Atlanta destinations, including The Optimist, King + Duke , No. 246 and JCT.Kitchen & Bar. Fry is fond of frilly mustard greens and the little flowery shoots that sprout early on from collard-green plants. “We love to use those,” he said.
If you haven’t made a kale salad at home yet, here’s the perfect recipe to get you started. With roasted squash and the tahini dressing, it’s hearty enough to stand on its own as a light lunch, or a surprising addition to the dinner table. Plus, it’s super healthy, too.
Delicata squash contains the same health-promoting benefits of all winter squash varieties, and it’s high in beta carotene, antioxidants and vitamin C. Combine it with kale — another nutritional powerhouse with ample amounts of iron, calcium and chlorophyll — and you have a delicious fall salad you can feel great about eating. If you want to dress it up for a special occasion or a holiday meal, add some pomegranate seeds, a shower of shaved Parmesan, or a handful of toasted nuts.
Oh, what to do when, at 11:30 p.m., in both a famished and weary state, you return to your hotel and discover that ordering a black bean burger via room service will take 45 minutes? One glance at the won’t-save-you-either minibar reveals nothing more redeemable than a $10 container of Pringles. A vending machine, of course, would instantly sate those late-night cravings. But do you really want your impromptu dinner to be comprised of a decidedly bad-for-you bag of chocolate chip cookies?
The magician of winter produce, spaghetti squash knows a few culinary tricks. Upon first examination, the oblong shell contains only seeds and hard flesh. But put it into an oven and, ta-da, the tough interior transforms into mounds of soft, stringy ribbons, which can be used for salads, noodle stand-ins and casseroles, and as a soft resting place for fish, poultry or meat. But there is another trick in spaghetti squash’s repertoire, one that is particularly perfect for the holidays: latkes.
If I asked you to tell me the reasons why you eat what you eat, I already know some of the reasons you’d give: “tastes good,” “grew up with it,” “it’s healthy” and so on. Betcha anything that “convenience” is at the top of your justification list. I know it’s tops on mine. For example, I eat my oatmeal with a spoonful of almond butter, a handful of berries and coffee with a splash of almond milk many a morning because: it’s convenient (the water boils while I’m making Maizy’s lunch), it’s delish (I like me some whole grains in the morning), it’s familiar (have made it a million times and could do it with my eyes closed) and it doesn’t sit heavily in my stomach but gives me energy for my morning workout. Honestly, if it wasn’t super-easy and available, I wouldn’t even consider the deliciousness, familiarity or energy it provides.
Convenience trumps taste when running out the door. It overrules nutrition (yes, even for us nutrition peeps!) sometimes when faced with a cranky and starving kid. Let’s face it: Our lives — in the year 2014 — don’t revolve around solely around our health, and cramming in all the work we need to do in our busy day requires cutting some corners. Convenience is paramount in our super-demanding and crazy multitasking world. Don’t fight it (you’ll lose). Embrace it.