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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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