Food Fight: French Fries vs. Sweet Potato Fries

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, September 5, 2016

French fries aren’t generally considered health food, but there are many options to consider. Are you baking them, frying them or getting them at the drive-thru? Is it a healthier move to order the sweet spuds when they appear on the menu? Here are the real differences between traditional french fries and those made from sweet potatoes.

French Fries
Potatoes have a bad reputation, but they’re actually filled with good-for-you nutrients, including fiber and potassium. The calorie count is also relatively low, coming in at about 170 calories for a whole potato. Armed with this knowledge, you can easily see how a sliced and roasted spud with a drizzle of olive oil can be a healthy side dish.

If you hit up the freezer section for a bag of fries, every 3-ounce portion (about 12 pieces) contains 120 calories, 5 grams of fat and 300 milligrams of sodium — but who eats only 12? Fast-food fries can get you into even more trouble, with a medium-sized order averaging 400 calories and 17 grams of fat. Sodium levels can range from 300 to more than 1,200 milligrams, depending on how those fries are seasoned. Read more

Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Bread

by in Uncategorized, September 4, 2016

Many people know that a bowl of oatmeal is one healthy way to start the day. But why? There’s a lot of nutrition packed into that bowl of goodness, including whole-grain oats, spicy cinnamon and usually fruit and nuts on top. I set out to create a quick bread that had all the nourishment of a bowl of oatmeal — but that would be easy to slice and take with you. Here’s what I mixed up:

Oats — All dry oatmeal varieties, from quick oats to steel-cut oats, are whole grains. They are also full of fiber — soluble fiber, which has been shown to lower cholesterol when consumed in the amount of about two bowls of oatmeal per day.
Walnuts — These nuts have more of the essential plant-based Omega-3 fat AHA than any other nut. An ounce of walnuts also has 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.

Apples — In season now, apples are packed with the flavonol quercetin. This plant-derived antioxidant acts as an antihistamine and may protect against heart disease.

Cinnamon — This spice may help keep blood sugar levels in check in people with diabetes, although not every study has shown this.
Eggs — Yes, eggs. I always add an egg or two to a pot of oatmeal to make it extra creamy. In this bread, eggs are added to increase the protein and vitamin D content. If you’re not really a “morning person,” vitamin D may help improve your mood. One egg has nearly 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin D — and may help you put on a happy face at any time of day. Read more

Zucchini, Ricotta and Lemon Pizza

by in Healthy Recipes, September 3, 2016

My recipe for a simple summer evening: Invite friends over, uncork a bottle of rosé and make a few of these zucchini ricotta pizzas. With just a handful of ingredients, these end-of-summer pizzas are an elevated version of the typical tomato-and-cheese variety.

For ease, I opted for store-bought pizza dough, found in most deli departments. I’m thankful that I can find fresh dough at my local pizzeria down the block, but if you’re not so lucky, any prepared crust will do. Or make a batch of your own. If I know that pizza is going to be a regular on our menu, I’ll make a triple batch of dough and freeze the individual portions.

Lemon on a pizza might sound strange, but it pairs perfectly with thin strips of zucchini and creamy ricotta. The tart citrus juice cuts through the rich cheese and provides just a hint of bright flavor with every bite. I’m a sucker for chives and lemon together, so I use them both in the ricotta mixture and as a garnish. Though, this is a summer pizza, so any herb will do. If your garden is overflowing with basil or parsley, feel free to use either one instead. Read more

Nutrition News: Granola and Other “Healthy” Food Myths, Busted; Nutritionally Sound Grocery Savings

by in Food News, September 2, 2016

Granola: Snack at Your Own Risk

Americans think of granola as healthy, but the granola we buy in stores or, often, make at home is usually so loaded with sugar we may as well be eating a piece of cake, a handful of cookies or a doughnut. In some cases, that cup of granola we eat for breakfast may actually contain more sugar than some of those dessert items, The New York Times notes, which explains why the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines categorize granola as a “grain-based dessert.” Some nutritionists say you can manage a healthier workaround by buying unsweetened granola and preparing it without adding sugar, but others just advise avoiding it altogether. Read more

Have You Tried Teff?

by in Gluten-Free, Have You Tried, Uncategorized, September 1, 2016

You know you should get a variety of whole grains in your diet. But it’s easy to get stuck in a quinoa rut if you don’t make an effort to seek out new-to-you whole grains. This article tells you everything you need to know about teff, a tiny whole grain that’s popular in Ethiopian cuisine.

What Is It?

Teff is a small, gluten-free grain, about the size of a poppy seed. It comes in different colors and has a mild, nutty flavor. It’s a staple grain in Ethiopia, where it’s ground into flour to make injera, a spongy, pancake-like fermented bread.

What Are Its Nutritional Benefits?

Teff is a really nutritious whole grain. A cup of cooked teff has 7 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein and the following vitamins and minerals:

Magnesium, 32% DV
Thiamine, 31% DV
Phosphorus, 30% DV
Iron, 28% DV Read more

Chickpea Shawarma Pitas with Hummus-Dill Dressing

by in Healthy Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan, August 31, 2016

Ever since the United Nations declared 2016 the Year of the Pulse, I’ve been trying to include at least one serving a day in my diet. Pulses, otherwise known as beans, dry peas and lentils, are fiber and protein powerhouses — not to mention that, at roughly a dollar a pound, they’re dirt-cheap. Thankfully, they also taste delicious.

Since “chickpea” sounds a lot like “chicken,” I thought chickpeas would be a natural swap in these Mediterranean-inspired shawarma pitas. Covered in spices and roasted to crispy perfection, they are then tucked into warmed pita bread and covered in a creamy hummus-dill sauce. Add in a few colorful vegetables and you’re left with a flavor-packed sandwich that’s perfect for lunch or dinner.

At first glance, this recipe may seem like it takes more ingredients than it’s worth, but they’re mainly spices that can be found in well-stocked pantries. To me, my spice pantry is king, giving me the ability to add maximum flavor without added fat. In healthy cooking, seasoning is everything, and for that, spices are worth their weight in gold. If you find that you don’t need a large jar, head to the bulk-bin section of your local grocery store for just the amount you need.

For a “cook once, eat twice” approach, transform any leftovers into a chickpea shawarma salad: Layer the vegetables with roasted chickpeas and top it with dollops of hummus-dill dressing. Read more

This Week’s CSA: Tomatoes at Last!

by in In Season, August 30, 2016

Finally! Sweet summer tomatoes have arrived in this week’s CSA from Mountain View Farm. For a cook, being handed a bag full of unadulterated produce is like being a kid handed an ice cream cone; it’s a moment of pure wonder. Still, it’s easy to grow weary during a long season of squash, squash and more squash.

Don’t get me wrong — summer squash is outstanding roasted, tossed into stir-fries and grated for slaws. But sometimes you yearn for something more … something just like a sweet, juicy tomato.

Now that we’ve gotten our wish, here are a few ideas for what to do with those fresh-from-the-farm tomatoes.
Salads: What says summer more than a fresh tomato salad? Good produce means very little work is required; just a simple vinaigrette, some fresh herbs and light seasoning will make the natural sweetness in your tomatoes pop. Read more

5 Snacking Pitfalls

by in Healthy Tips, Uncategorized, August 29, 2016

We’ve become a nation of snackers. Supermarket shelves are lined with snacking options, and many focus on the health-conscious consumer, providing snacks that are gluten-free, sugar-free, organic, vegan, kosher, dairy-free and/or GMO-free. However, you can overdo it even with the healthiest intentions. Here are five snacking mistakes that many folks make and what you can do to prevent them.

#1: Over-Grazing
Many folks tend to eat small snacks throughout the day, also known as grazing. If this habit is not kept under control, the few hundred calories you’re munching at each snack time can quickly add up and lead to weight gain over time.

Instead: Even if you’re a grazer, snacks and small meals should be scheduled throughout the day. This way you know when you’re eating, so you can have more control over what and how much you eat. Read more

Back-to-School Recipe Roundup

by in Healthy Recipes, Kid-Friendly, Uncategorized, August 28, 2016

It’s that time of year again: You need breakfasts that are quick to make and eat, lunches you can pack the night before, and after-school snacks that will keep kids going strong till dinnertime. To get the school year off to a healthy start, we’ve rounded up some great ideas and easy-to-make recipes that will help get you and the kids out the door on time.


Breakfast in a Hurry

Pumped-up pancakes: Add some shredded kale and apples to your regular pancake batter for an extra dose of nutrients.

Yogurt parfait: Layering plain or vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit and granola makes this fun breakfast a complete — and filling — meal.

Overnight oats: Prep these the night before and your kids can dig in as soon as they get up.

Breakfast burritos (pictured above): These wraps are a hearty and healthy breakfast — perfect for kids who are extra-hungry in the morning. And if you’re really in a rush, simply wrap a scrambled egg in a tortilla and hand it to your kid on his way out the door.

Frittata: Make this yummy dish on Sunday and your kids can eat it for breakfast all week long. Read more

Raw Cheese: Good or Bad?

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, August 27, 2016

Buying artisanal, local foods, including unpasteurized cheeses made from raw milk, is very popular at the moment. Some advocates even claim that raw cheese is healthier, but of course there are two sides to every story. Read on for the pros, cons and the verdict on eating raw cheese.

The Good
According to Carlos Yescas, program director at Oldways Cheese Coalition, “the benefits of eating raw milk cheese are many, amongst the most important are the diversity of the microorganisms that are present in these cheeses.” Although there are many questions that still remain due to the complexity of the human microbiome, these microbes found in raw milk cheese can help fight infection and disease.

Many folks, including myself, have food safety concerns when it comes to raw milk cheese. Yescas explains that in order to keep food safety under control it is important to source good milk. The raw cheese producers must pay attention to the quality of the milk, which included the living conditions of the animals, the nutrition of the dairy cows, and animal husbandry. “Because the processing of raw milk will not go through pasteurization (heat treatment) it is even more important to ensure that the conditions around the milking parlor are clean and safe,” says Yescas. Further, producers are mandated to constantly train their employees, as well as follow food safety guidelines (known as HACCP) that ensure that the points of contamination where pathogens can be introduced are carefully supervised. Read more