6 Healthy Breakfast Foods for Under $4

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Tips, February 7, 2017

Breakfast is the first opportunity during the day to nourish your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep you healthy. Instead of grabbing for the massive carb-filled muffin at the corner store or skimping on breakfast altogether, opt for these 6 good-for-you breakfast foods instead.

 

Oatmeal Cups

Whip up a healthy whole grain breakfast in a flash by just adding boiling water. If you’re racing to work, don’t forget to pack a spoon.

Average cost: $1.99

 

Greek Yogurt

Instead of going sans breakfast, munch on nonfat Greek yogurt which provides twice the amount of protein compared to traditional yogurt. Protein also helps keep you satisfied so you can concentrate on your morning.

Average cost: $1.50 Read more

Is Sweet Potato Toast the New Avocado Toast?

by in Food News, Have You Tried, Trends, February 5, 2017

Thanks to the social mediasphere, sweet potato toast has emerged as one of the biggest food fads of the last several months. The concept of simply toasting a sliced sweet potato intrigued me, so I had to check out what the frenzy is all about. While I wouldn’t say sweet potato toast resembles toasted bread, it is an easy and delicious way to add more vegetables to your day, especially if you love sweet potatoes like I do. Plus, that vibrant color is sure to bring joy to mealtime. Here is what you need to know about sweet potato toast.

Nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes

Beta-carotene, the nutrient that the body converts into vitamin A, reigns as the nutritional crown jewel of sweet potatoes, providing more than 230% of the daily value in just one small tater. For the sake of this post, I’m using one small, 60-gram sweet potato, which is closest to the weight of a slice of bread that weighs in at 43 grams.

What’s better for you: sweet potato toast or whole-wheat toast?

Sweet potatoes count as a vegetable, and whole-wheat toast provides you with a serving of whole grains. Therefore, we’re not comparing apples to apples. Your body benefits from both whole grains and vegetables, since they provide different ranges of nutrients. Read more

Eat These Foods to Boost Your Brain Power

by in Cookbooks, Diets & Weight Loss, Food and Nutrition Experts, February 4, 2017

We’ve all had those days when our brains feel foggy: when we can’t focus and our memory is less-than sharp. And chances are, you’ve resorted to extra caffeine and a sugary snack in an effort to jolt your brain back into full function. But what if you could consume something that’s actually healthy for your brain instead?

That’s the idea behind numerous supplements, foods and drinks that contain nootropics, substances purported to improve cognition. Nootropic cocktails may contain any number of things including B vitamins, L-theanine, niacin, as well as various herbs and amino acids. But despite the growing popularity of these brain boosters, there is little scientific evidence to back up most of their claims. “I love the idea of boosting brain power, but show me any science that a supplement is better than movement, meditation and nutrient-dense brain food when it comes to mental health,” says Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, Columbia University and author of Eat Complete (Harper Collins, 2016).

According to Ramsey, boosting brain power is actually pretty simple. He even made a little rhyme about the key brain foods to make it easy to remember: “Seafood, greens, nuts and beans.” Eating more of those core foods can go a long way toward keeping your brain healthy—and a healthy brain works better. Important nutrients for feeding your brain include omega-3 fats, monounsaturated fats, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, iron, choline, lycopene, vitamin E and carotenoids. It’s not about a specific food or magic bullet supplement, but rather categories of healthy foods that provide high levels of these proven brain-boosting nutrients. “Our brains consume 20 percent of everything we eat,” says Ramsey. “This nourishment provides energy and nutrients to create and sustain the quadrillions of connections that construct the brain, plus the electricity that courses between those connections.” In other words: if you want a better brain, feed it better food. Read more

In Season: Blood Oranges

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 3, 2017

Long popular in Italy and Spain, these ruby-hued oranges are now being cultivated in Texas and California. Available from December to April, blood oranges are often both sweeter and less tart than other types of oranges, with a pleasantly bitter edge. Some people say they can even detect a hint of raspberry flavor.

 

Blood Orange Facts:

Harvesting blood oranges in the winter, when they are at the peak of ripeness, ensures that they are highest in anthocyanins, the compound that gives them their vivid blood-red color. Anthocyanins are thought to help stave off heart disease and cancer, as well protect eye health. Blood oranges are also an excellent source of fiber and Vitamin C.

Choose firm oranges that are heavy for their size and store for a week at room temperature, or up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Read more

3 Immunity Boosters to Add to Meals

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Tips, February 2, 2017

Cold and flu season is tough, and you may need help to make it through unscathed. Whether you’re hunkered down on the couch with a case of the sniffles, or just trying to avoid any sick days, these easy ways to add immunity boosters to your meals may help keep you healthy.

Turmeric

Long part of Eastern medicine traditions, this spice contains a component called curcumin which can help decrease inflammation. This antioxidant may help soothe inflammation caused by symptoms like sore throat and stuffy nose. Spoonfuls of turmeric may also help shorten the length of a cold by bolstering the immune system.

If you can find fresh turmeric root (similar to ginger root) in a store’s produce department, snatch it up. As with most foods, the whole plant contains the most potent components, but the dry, powdered spice is a powerful alternative. Add turmeric to a wide variety of drinks and dishes: your morning mango smoothie, cinnamon oatmeal with raisins, chicken noodle soup or cooked greens will all benefit from the flavor of this vibrant orange spice. Roasted vegetables or orange vegetables pair perfectly with turmeric. It’s an ingredient in most curries and also adds warm, earthly flavors to eggs and fish.

Sardines

Yes, really. This sustainable fish packs loads of healthy omega-3 fats (1100-1600 mg per serving) into its small size. These EPA and DHA fats may help decrease inflammation during colds. Sardines also contain the nutrient selenium which is essential for immunity. And a single serving of sardines contains over 27% of the daily recommendation for vitamin D, another immunity booster. Read more

Which Airlines Have the Healthiest Food?

by in Food News, January 31, 2017

When we book airplane tickets, most of us consider things like timing, cost, and whether or not a given flight includes a layover. We probably don’t factor in the healthfulness of the airline’s food. But maybe we should.

Some airlines serve healthier meals than others, and a new study helps travelers figure out which keep calories and cost to a minimum in the meals and snacks they offer, while maximizing nutrition, taste and sustainability.

“Transparency is critical, and consumers are very interested in know about the foods they eat,” Charles Platkin, PhD, JD, MPH, the director of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College, who conducted the study and edits DietDetective.com, tells Healthy Eats. “Often, travelers don’t have the time to plan out and pack their own meals. Their only choice at 30,000 feet is the food on the plane.”

Platkin’s airline food study found that, overall, the average calories per in-flight food item has risen slowly and steadily in years past — from 360 in 2012 to 388 in 2013 to 297 in 2014 and 400 in 2015 — before decreasing 8 percent last year, to 392.  Read more

6 Tips for Integrating Exercise Into Your Workday

by in Fitness, January 29, 2017

So many of us worker bees spend our weekdays glued to our desk chairs, wondering, perhaps, if tapping at our keyboards counts as exercise. (Sadly, it doesn’t.)

But the prospect of spending a huge chunk of our day working out may seem daunting and frankly, unworkable. A new study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity indicates that, in fact, spending just five minutes getting up and engaging in moderately intense exercise (like a walk) every hour may actually be better for us, in many respects, than a solid 30-minute daily workout before we slide into our cubicles in the morning and start our long sit.

The study, conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, among others, concluded that introducing short periods of activity spread throughout the day would help not only boost workers’ energy levels, but also elevate their moods and lower their sense of fatigue and appetite, calling it “a promising approach to improve overall well-being at work.” Read more

How To Get Your Fruits and Vegetables During Winter

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, January 28, 2017

During the dead of winter, fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables become slim pickings. However, eating fewer fruits and vegetables is not an option if you’re looking to stay healthy. According to the 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans, 80-percent of us don’t eat the daily recommended amount of fruit, while 90-percent of Americans don’t take in enough vegetables. Now is the perfect time to turn to canned and frozen produce, as they absolutely count towards your servings of produce, plus they’re brimming with good-for-you nutrients.

But Isn’t Canned Bad?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that fresh is the only healthy option. Because produce is easily perishable, both freezing and canning were created in order to extend shelf lives. Further, the 2015 dietary guidelines specify that canned and frozen also count towards your daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.

Canned fruit retains much of its vitamin C, which can be diminished in its fresh counterparts if it is stored for a long period of time, or shipped long distances. Canned produce is also packed at the peak of ripeness and within hours of being picked from the fields. This summer I visited a tomato farm and cannery in Sacramento, California and I saw tomatoes picked in the fields and quickly delivered to a nearby cannery within several hours to be processed and packed. In fact, tomatoes are an example of produce that actually has higher nutritional value when cooked or processed since canned tomatoes contain 2 to 3 times more lycopene compared to fresh. (Lycopene, naturally found in tomatoes, help protect against the damaging effects of oxidative stress and inflammation.) Read more

What You Should Know About Hydroponic Vegetables

by in Food News, Trends, January 27, 2017

Soil seems so essential to our concept of vegetables that those grown hydroponically – that is, in water rather than soil – may seem confusing. Even futuristic. But hydroponic crop farming is in fact here now. In the last five years, the hydroponic crop farming industry has shown an annual growth of 4.5 percent, according to the U.S. market research firm IBISWorld, and new companies are projected to continue to expand over the next five years.

Hydroponic farms produce high yields in a small area. Often grown indoors – in warehouses or greenhouses and in artificial light instead of sunlight – they are protected from extreme weather. Hydroponically grown vegetables, which are fed by nutrient solutions in the water, may be just as nutritious as field-grown vegetables and, depending on the solutions they’re fertilized with, can help meet the rising demand for organic produce.

Curious to learn more about hydroponic vegetables, we asked Rebecca Elbaum, MPH, RD, CDN, a clinical dietician in New York City who has worked with hydroponic farms, particularly small, rooftop gardens, to fill us in on some of the basics:

 

What, exactly, are hydroponic vegetables?

Hydroponic literally means “water-grow or survive,” so basically hydroponic vegetables are those that survive, and likely thrive, in water. Hydroponic vegetables are grown in a closed system in which their roots are submerged in water. This water is fortified or “spiked” with nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. In conventional farming, natural soil contains vitamins, minerals and trace elements that water does not, so hydroponic farmers need to add those nutrients into the water. Conventional farming also uses the natural light of the sun, which helps vegetables develop their nutrients.  Hydroponic farming mimics sunlight through greenhouses.  Read more

Diet 101: Whole30

by in Diets & Weight Loss, Food and Nutrition Experts, January 26, 2017

As a registered dietitian, I’ve got a healthy skepticism towards most diets. Being in private practice for almost a decade will do that to you. I’ve seen clients come in on just about every eating pattern imaginable, from raw-food to paleo and everything in between. With the growing popularity of Whole30, I set out to examine the basics of the diet and nutritional truths behind some of the claims.

 

What is Whole30?

Whole30 is an elimination diet, with shares a similar philosophy with the Paleo trend. Both recommend eating lots of fresh, high-quality foods while ditching anything processed. Specifically, you are removing all grains, dairy, soy, legumes, sugar, certain preservatives and artificial sweeteners from your diet. According to the authors, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, these foods have been linked to hormonal imbalance, systemic inflammation, gut issues and more, though most of those claims aren’t backed by evidence-based research. Ideally, Whole30 is to be done strictly for 30 days; afterwards you can gently add back in said foods to see how your body responds.

 

Mindful eating

In addition to the diet recommendations, Whole30 encourages no calorie counting, measuring or weighing yourself for the entire 30-day process. Instead, the program focuses on non-scale victories, like improved sleep, skin, energy and overall feeling. The program isn’t promoted to be a long-term diet, but instead a reset button to focus on whole-foods that nourish your body.

As a long-time student of intuitive eating, I’m a big fan of switching the focus to non-scale victories and removing the added pressure of specific numbers and goals. For most dieters, these are big detractors and can often feel like punishment rather than an empowered choice. However, one of the tenets of intuitiveness is allowing yourself to eat whatever you want, without any parameters in place. Whole30 can fit this mindset if you are truly enjoying the foods you are eating and don’t feel deprived, but it’s not an automatic switch to mindful eating. Read more