Healthy Kids’ Snacks for Summer

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, June 13, 2016

If you think all kids are looking to devour only junk food, think again! A National Mango Board snacking study, conducted in September 2015, surveyed 501 U.S. parents with children between the ages of 3 and 11, using Research Now’s online consumer panel; the results showed that 41 percent of children ask for fresh fruit more frequently than other snacks. So the next time your little one requests a snack, choose one of these healthy options.

Snack Versus Treat
Snacks are mini meals that should be provided if there is a long stretch of time between meals (about five hours). Snacks are a perfect opportunity for your child to take in the nutrients they need to help them grow and develop, including iron, protein, calcium and vitamin D. Treats, on the other hand, are non-nutritious foods — such as cookies and chips — that do not provide nutrients and should be consumed only once in a while. Read more

Are Bright Restaurants Healthier?

by in Food News & Trends, June 11, 2016

You’re probably already aware that eating off extra-large plates can translate into consuming extra-large portions and that watching TV during a meal may distract you enough to make you overeat. The latest research on restaurant ambience examined how bright versus dim lighting affected diners’ food choices.

The study had several different prongs. The first involved a survey of 160 patrons at casual chain restaurants. Those sitting in brightly lit rooms were 16 to 24 percent more likely to order healthy foods (such as grilled fish or chicken and vegetables), while those in rooms where the lights were dimmer were more likely to order unhealthy items (like fried food or dessert). Plus, those eating in darker dining rooms ordered 39 percent more calories. Read more

Shortcuts to Getting More Greens

by in Healthy Tips, June 11, 2016

The latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans found that 90 percent of the U.S. population fails to get the recommended daily amount of vegetables. Based on these statistics, most of us (including me!) could use a little help taking in more — especially those nutrient-packed greens. Here are eight ways to quickly pack more greens into your day. Read more

Nutrition News: Good Fats, Sugar Addiction, Running Mistakes

by in Food News & Trends, June 10, 2016

Embrace good fats

Is it finally time to stop fearing all fats? The low-fat trend — already under fire — just took another hit from science. Researchers in Spain have concluded that all fats are not created equal – and that some will not lead to significant weight gain, regardless of calorie content. The study tracked 7,447 middle-aged men and women over five years and found that those who were put on a Mediterranean diet — with lots of fresh fruits, veggies and lean proteins, as well as olive oil and nuts — without calorie restrictions lost a bit more weight than those who were assigned a low-fat diet with no restrictions in their caloric intake. Read more

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 & Trends, 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 & 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